Politics Analysis

Voters everywhere made the world a safer place in 2022

By | | comments |
2022 saw many victories for progressive governments around the world (Screenshots via YouTube)

Election results over the year now ending offer grounds for hope for democracy, as Alan Austin reports.

AUSTRALIA, Brazil, Malaysia and Colombia all voted in reformist governments this year, after years of corrupt conservative Right-wing rule. Progressive governments were returned with strong mandates in Portugal, Malta and Denmark. Women were elected national leaders for the first time in Italy, Slovenia and Peru.

Important national elections were held this year in 16 countries, including five G20 nations. Of these, ten saw a change of administration while six endorsed the incumbent.

Several elections resulted in minority governments. Most of these appear more representative of citizens’ aspirations than may have been the case with a sweeping one-party majority.

Although there was a shift to the right in South Korea, Sweden and Israel, none represents a victory for hard-line, authoritarian ideology.

Elections of particular significance

In a historic first for Colombia, Gustavo Petro of the reformist Humane Colombia party won the June Presidential Election. The tropical South American nation is now emerging as a stable democracy after generations of internal armed conflict.

In Brazil, prominent trade unionist and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the October Presidential Election against Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, if narrowly.

Fevered predictions in the malicious Murdoch press and elsewhere of a Trump-style denial of Brazil’s election result and widespread protests were fortunately false.

A coalition of Right-wing parties won the majority of seats in Italy’s national elections in September. As discussed here, Giorgia Meloni became Italy’s first female Prime Minister. It is still early, but indications from her socioeconomic actions and diplomatic appointments so far are that she will continue the collaborative neoliberal approach of her predecessor, Mario Draghi.

Malaysians elected Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister in November, after his predecessor, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, called a snap general election following years of instability.

Ibrahim’s extraordinary political career began in the mid-1960s and has included many years in prison on what many believe to be trumped-up charges. As leader of the centre-Left Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition he has vowed to unify the fractured country and end corruption.

Slovenians voted for a new centre-Left government in April. They followed that in November by electing independent human rights lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar as President — Slovenia’s first woman in that role.

Democracy preserved in Peru

Embattled Peruvian President, Pedro Castillo, responded to moves in congress to impeach him on 7 December by declaring a state of emergency and trying to dissolve the congress. In a stunning sequence of events, congress members stayed put, several of Castillo’s ministers repudiated his actions and the military announced its loyalty to the Constitution rather than the President.

Congress immediately impeached Castillo by 101 votes to six and swore in his deputy, Dina Boluarte, as Peru’s first female President. Castillo was arrested before reaching safety in a foreign embassy.

The speed with which this happened – a matter of hours – contrasts with America’s experience where sanctioning Donald Trump for multiple concerted attempts to overthrow the Constitution and re-install himself as president is taking years.

America’s November elections

Although not presidential elections, the recent mid-term contests are important because of America’s global power and the extraordinary state of violent dystopia it is experiencing.

The Democratic Party stunned observers – and themselves – by losing no Senate seats and gaining one, thus securing a majority. This is the first time since 1934 that the president’s party has held all its Senate seats in a mid-term election.

Another positive was that former President Trump’s preferred candidates performed particularly badly, confirming his diminishing power.

Australia sacks the Coalition — at last!

After almost nine years of manifest incompetence and corruption, the Coalition of the National and Liberal parties were resoundingly defeated in May.

Australians voted decisively for Anthony Albanese’s reformist Labor Government, simultaneously endorsing the Greens and progressive Independents.

This federal outcome followed a similar shift to Labor in March in South Australia. Victorians confirmed this trend in November by returning Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ Labor Government, already eight years old, with an increased majority.

In the seven months since the May Election, Australia has made a substantial contribution to international affairs, particularly on climate, nuclear proliferation, trade, international tax evasion and responding to the ambitions of Russia and China.

The rising tide of the Teals

Australia’s May Election saw a surge in support for Independents, including the so-called Teals, who boosted their lower house representation from three to ten. Greens in the lower house increased from one to four. Greens senators increased from nine to 12, while Independent and minor party senators remained at six.

Whether this tide recedes at the next election remains to be seen. This will probably depend on success in delivering outcomes on climate and government integrity.

Curiously, Independents failed in Victoria’s November Election with representation falling from three to none. The difference between the May Federal Election and Victoria’s poll in November may simply be that voters were tossing out a failed administration federally but endorsing a successful one in Victoria.

Rupert Murdoch’s demise as kingmaker

This year saw humiliating defeats for News Corp’s once-influential media outlets. Several of them campaigned viciously against Albanese’s Labor Opposition in Australia, Dan Andrews’ Labor Government in Victoria, and the Democrats in the American mid-terms. Their preferred parties all performed poorly. 

Will this trend towards progressive governments continue? Will more women emerge as national leaders? Will more coalitions eventuate?

Elections next year in India, Argentina, Spain, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey may answer these questions. Meanwhile, we can draw more hope than despair from ballots in 2022.

Alan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

Related Articles

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by Alan Austin
Labor’s Budget brings fairness and return to economic competence

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ headline budget outcomes are impressive, but the hidden ...  
Australia rewards its workers and rejoins the growth economies

The latest official data confirms the Albanese Government is achieving sound ...  
Facing life in prison, Donald Trump fuels racial violence in the USA

Hatred and violence are surging across the United States as the former President ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate