With three elections and three local by-elections this weekend, it’s time for a psephologist to stick his neck out.

First up is New Zealand, tomorrow; the polls have continued their confusing pattern, with the final Herald-DigiPoll and Colmar Brunton polls showing clear leads for Labour and Nationals, respectively. The Nationals are now slightly favoured at Centrebet,
for the first time. Despite that, my feeling is that the late swing in
such a close election should favour the government, so I expect Labour
will be narrowly returned. For live results tomorrow night, check the
official site here, which provided a very good service last time.

Also on tomorrow are the three by-elections in NSW.
Labour’s vote will be down in Macquarie Fields and Maroubra, but not
enough to put it at any risk of defeat. The only doubtful one is
Marrickville, and I share the general view that the Greens will fall
short again. Official results will be available here, and the Poll Bludger also promises live updates during the evening.

On Sunday Afghanistan
holds its first legislative elections for decades. It’s not promising
territory for psephologists, since there are no real parties and the
main issues concern turnout and credibility – see recent reports here and here.
But, like Morris Iemma in NSW, president Hamid Karzai only has to be
better than the Taliban in order to look good, so my guess is that his
supporters will be the strongest group in the new parliament.

Later on Sunday is the most interesting of the elections, in Germany. The latest reports
show left and right heading towards a dead heat. If the polls are
right, the winner could be determined by bargaining after the event; it
might even depend on a Dresden seat where polling has been postponed
for two weeks due to the death of a candidate – shades of Victoria in
1999.

I’m leaning to the view that the Christian Democrats and
Liberals will just scrape over the line. Although Schroeder has the
advantage of incumbency, there are two things that might swing it for
the opposition: they are the only ones who can provide stable
government, since the alternative is a more or less ramshackle
coalition, and they will benefit from racist (specifically
anti-Turkish) sentiment that might not be showing up in the polls. But
don’t be surprised if it goes the other way.

Peter Fray

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