Monday, November 26, 2007

And it's goodnight from him

As you would have read elsewhere, we have had an election in Australia.

After more than 11 years in power and despite a strong economy, continuing growth and record low unemployment, the centre-right coalition led by prime minister John Howard was comprehensively defeated on Saturday night.

Mr Howard, who has been in politics for more than 30 years, was going for a fifth consecutive election victory - a big ask, to be sure, but not inconceivable given his past electoral successes.

It wasn't to be.
Instead, the voters have opted for Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat and public servant who leads the centre-left Labor Party.

In the 150-seat House of Representatives, the Labor Party will hold at least 83 seats, a very healthy majority.

It’s not the result I wanted and voted for but heck, that’s what democracy is all about.

The new Rudd government, which will not be sworn in until later this week, will make some changes to Australia’s foreign policy, as you can see in this piece published today in The International Herald Tribune. But not by much.

On the question of relations with the Castro regime, well, it’s fair to say that it’s never been what you’d regard as a pressing issue in Australian politics. Far from it.

Both sides have had a fairly bi-partisan approach to Cuba, calling for democratic change and respect for human rights while invariably opposing the US commercial and trade embargo on the regime.

Still, the demise of Mr Howard will be seen as good news in Havana, given the outgoing prime minister’s close links to US president George W Bush.

We’ll keep you posted.


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