It came as no surprise that Victoria’s aging Labor government suffered a significant swing against it at the state poll over the weekend, but few pundits predicted anything near the scale of the voter backlash that will almost certainly claim the scalp of Premier John Brumby.
Earlier in the month Crikey’s Richard Farmer wrote that Brumby “is a proven loser” and, last week, a Morgan Poll conducted exclusively for Crikey predicted the Coalition would form government. But a swing of around 7 percent to the Coalition in two-party terms has shocked political wonks. And in an unusual twist, Crikey founder Stephen Mayne emerged as the front runner to control the balance of power in the Upper House.
Behind closed doors, frazzled Labor strategists are no doubt asking themselves what went wrong as their hopes of forming a minority government slowly evaporate.
The media have been more than happy to throw their two bob in, of course, and responses are varied. Some interpreted the election results as further evidence of the “ten year cycle” theory – that any government that reaches double digits will struggle to get re-elected. Others discussed the personalities of the two candidates and Labor’s ineffective strategic focus.
Here’s a snapshot of what they had to say:
William Bowe: After the blast
I am particularly keen on the idea that the late swing to the Coalition was not so much a reaction to campaign events as something that was always going to happen when minds became focused.
Andrew Crook: Mayne could hold balance of power in Victoria
Crikey founder Stephen Mayne could hold the balance of power in the Victorian Upper House, with an unexpected Steve Fielding-style preference run close to delivering him the fifth and final seat in Northern Metropolitan.
The Labor rout in Victoria is an undoubted victory for the Liberals, even though there was a possibility they would yet again come in second. It was at very least a huge morale boost.
Time Colebatch: The landslide that no one saw coming
…while Labor was defending on one wall, the Liberals were climbing over the other. Of Labor’s 18 seats south of the Yarra, no fewer than 10 were taken by Ted Baillieu’s men.
It was a mirror image of the 1999 poll that brought Labor to power. That day, Jeff Kennett was focussed on retaining his marginal seats south of the Yarra, and did so – but was felled by Labor and the independents storming regional and rural ramparts.
Michael Gordon: Ted’s just miming the words for now
To those who said he lacked the hunger, or the killer instinct, or the leadership qualities to lead the Liberals back to power – and, especially, to those Liberals who asserted things without attribution – Baillieu is measured.
The last time a new Liberal premier took office, in 1992, he claimed power via a landslide majority. His policies and political style were so unique and far-reaching that his time in government was given a name: the Kennett Revolution.
The most likely outcome of the 2010 Victorian election would usher in something less ambitious. Call it the Velvet Handover.
Tony Wright: Caretaker grasps at political straws in the wind
John Brumby clearly had weightier matters on his mind than the time of day as he faced the media yesterday.
He shot his cuff, looked meaningfully at his watch and declared to the gathered media: ”Morning all”. It was 1.25 in the afternoon.
The Herald Sun
Stephen McMahon: Premier John Brumby clings to faintest of election chances
Despite the huge anti-government vote and the seat of Bentleigh going to the Coalition late last night, Mr Brumby maintains Labor has a mandate to remain in power.
Ted Baillieu has a vision for the state, voters have been told repeatedly for the past four weeks.
But despite storming Labor’s 11-year-old barricades, those same Victorian voters can be forgiven for wondering what exactly that vision is and indeed, who is Ted Baillieu.
Ewin Hannan: Brumby blames voter rage
John Brumby has blamed voter anger over cost-of-living increases for the backlash that has decimated Victorian Labor’s majority.
Before counting late yesterday saw the Liberals on the cusp of securing government, Mr Brumby said the most likely election result was a hung parliament, followed by a Coalition victory.
Peter van Onselen: A blow to Labor’s heartland
If there is a hung parliament, that will mean voters will probably go to the polls again early in the new year. The conventional wisdom is that a damaged government forced back to the polls is likely to be put out of its misery rather than win a reprieve.
As Hillary Clinton refused to admit defeat in the 2008 Democratic Party primary battle against now-president Barack Obama, US talkshow host Conan O’Brien summarised the situation with devastating humour.
“Obama is favoured in the states of Oregon, Montana and South Dakota,” he said. “And Hilary is favoured in the state of denial.”