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Predictions - Election 2019

As always our team here at Gravis Insights Australia releases the election predictions list. Some say its mad, some say its courageous and others just think we must be off our heads. However, after months of work through multiple states and multiple clients – here is our predictions.

Firstly, we believe that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister. But let’s be really clear – Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) has only ever had one real opponent from day one and that has been time. We note the failure of the Labor Party to largely cut through NSW and North Queensland and the ability of the Coalition to win back seats from rural Independents. Due to ScoMo’s now widely acknowledged campaigning ability, the Coalition began the long climb back to Basecamp to at least start to win back the outer suburban ‘battler’ vote which Turnbull destroyed for the LNP in 2016. ScoMo has out-campaigned Shorten and whilst he had enough time to win the battle he simply ran out of time to win the war.

In our view one of the gaffes of the campaign and a well executed piece from the Liberals.

Firstly, we believe that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister. However, we note the failure of the Labor Party to largely cut through NSW and North Queensland and the ability of the Coalition to win back seats from rural Independents and thanks to ScoMo, the ability of the Coalition to atleast start to win back the outer suburban ‘battler’ vote which Turnbull destroyed for the LNP in 2016.

However, we just see Victoria as being too bigger obstacle to overcome and as well as individual gains in NSW and suburban Queensland and WA, Labor will get home with a maximum of 80 seats.

The LNP pathway would involve holding everything in Queensland and adding Herbert and Longman, holding the line in WA and adding in Cowan. Hoping not to drop too many in Victoria, win Indi, split even in NSW (via Wentworth and not losing Warringah), not lose Sturt or Boothby in SA and win one back in Tasmania.

The ALP pathway is wider to victory. They can do this through a Victoria combined with Liberal seats that have been redistributed to nominally Labor status going Labor, winning seats like Gilmore in NSW and winning Hasluck in WA, winning seats in suburban Brisbane and cheering on Zali Steggal in Warringah, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth and Rob Oakeshott in Cowper while hoping that the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers pull off an unlikely win in Calare.

The results as we see it are a mix of the two.

We see the Libs losing 3 in Victoria (Chisolm, Dunkley, Corangamite), Gilmore, Farrer and Robertson in NSW. Petrie and Forde in Queensland with a possibility of Brisbane in Queensland and Hasluck in WA all to Labor. We also see Cowper going to Rob Oakeshott.

However, we see the Libs picking up Indi in Victoria from the retiring Independent. Then we see the Liberals winning atleast one in Tasmania (maybe 2), Herbert in North Queensland with a shot at Longman on Brisbane’s northside and Lindsay in NSW.

This would see Labor gain net 6 before we head into the too close to call seats in suburban NSW, suburban QLD and the preference-based lotteries in Central, Northern and Far North Queensland. Our team just can’t see a situation where Labor can’t win one of those that fall in those categories despite the UAP preference deal and the copious amounts of advertising he has taken out with random candidates spouting cliches.

We also don’t see the Greens adding to Melbourne in the House of Representatives.

We will take you through our thinking as we go state by state as to how we get to where we are.

Firstly though, it should be noted that if Shorten doesn’t become PM and we are wrong about the end result (which some of our team obviously hopes we are); this will be a bigger boilover than 1993 when Paul Keating defeated John Hewson. For an Opposition Leader to be in the lead in the polls for so long and lose the election would in effect, end Bill Shorten as a political force in the same way 1993 ended John Hewson as a force in the Liberal Party.


Easily our funniest moment from Queensland in this election campaign.

Easily our funniest moment from Queensland in this election campaign.

The two big things we would start with in Queensland is this. The Labor Primary vote in our view is very two-tired between regional Queensland and South East Queensland and is centred from inner-city Brisbane and radiating outwards from there. The work of the PM to bring back the ‘battler’ vote is holding the line in many places in Queensland where Labor looked certain to win 3 months ago (polling had them winning Petrie, Dickson, Bonner, Forde and Brisbane at that stage).

This trend spells the reverse of the danger for Brisbane that occurred in 2016. While Malcolm Turnbull was a net negative to the LNP vote everywhere else in Queensland where LNP members were recontesting, he was a net positive to the Brisbane vote (and also Griffith/Ryan). However, the removal of Turnbull could see some ‘reverse swing’ come into play in Brisbane. Whether or not there is 6% is quite another thing.

This has been a ‘sleeper’ seat for Labor for quite some time (in much the same way Longman was in 2007 for Labor) and they have done everything they can to not draw attention to it.

Labor has also been betting on an element of ‘leakage’ of preference from the United Australia Party UAP), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) and Fraser Annings Conservative National Party (FACNP) as there is a fracturing of the right wing vote here which hasn’t happened for some time.

Trevor Evans is quite a popular local member who has championed many ‘younger’ causes. However, Labor are confident that a reverse swing effect of removing Turnbull plus record youth enrolment will catapult them to victory here.

Prediction: LNP retain

Griffith, Moreton, Rankin (for future Labor leader - Jim Chalmers), Oxley and Blair will all remain in Labor hands.

Ryan stays LNP (just) but suffers the same trend as Brisbane.

Lilley will get a new Labor MP in Anika Wells, replacing Wayne Swan. However, the ad below goes down as one of the best of the campaign for a single candidate.

Then we go to the four marginals Labor is trying to win in South East Queensland and realistically, needs to win atleast 2 of in order to win government.

The first pack we look at is the Moreton Bay marginal pack on the northside of Brisbane: Dickson, Petrie and Longman. With the putting together of the battler vote, all three of these seats will be close results (despite no one wanting to admit Longman was close in the Labor camp but shown by the ScoMo visit on the final day).

Some of the predictions here have been wild. We don’t see a situation where these three seats go in different directions fundamentally. While we think Labor could go net zero from this section - it is going to be close in all three.

Petrie is the seat based in the outer metropolitan northside of Brisbane in the Moreton Bay catchment area. Traditionally, this seat along with Dickson and Longman have gone together before the 2010-2013 chaotic era and this cycle there is a strong chance that this could be bought back together to historic trends.

This is a clash of the titans as it were between the LNP’s best grassroots campaigner in South East Queensland, Luke Howarth and Labor’s star performer in Queensland, Corinne Mulholland. Mulholland is a former staffer for long term Mayor of Moreton Bay Allan Sutherland, who from all of us agree, is probably the best political brawler in that part of the world. This follows to the observation our team has made for many months that she is not the “standard Labor candidate” in this field.

PHON and the UAP are playing here but are minor actors.

Labor need to run up the score in the centre and southern end of Redcliffe this time though if they have any chance of winning. They cant afford the battler vote in the centre of Redcliffe to be bleeding away from Labor or they will be in trouble. Labor also cant afford to get whacked at the Scarborough/Southern Cross booths at the northern end of the Peninsula or lose places like North Lakes which swing with the seat.

This is the centre of the universe for South East Queensland for Labor. While everyone is focused on Dickson and the tussle there, this is the seat that really shows whether it is on for Labor in SEQ and it will need to be because the other three seats in contention are all harder to win than Petrie.

Prediction: Too close to call

Longman has been a sleeper seat for the LNP for quite some time that no one has drawn any attention to by the fact no one has gone there, spent any cash there or done anything to make anyone else think its in play. This seat has come down from its byelection high and is suffering from a fall in the PHON vote in the seat as well as this time there is not as many candidates on the ballot paper.

With the ScoMo rebuilding of the ‘battler’ Liberal vote, this is what has driven the LNP back into contention in this seat. Our team here isn’t prepared to call it for the LNP yet but we are prepared to mark it as too close to call and one to watch on the night for a shock.

Prediction: Too close to call

Dickson is the big money tussle in Queensland between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and United Voice backed Labor Candidate Ali France. This is a seat that has had millions of dollars in advertising spent on it and has had every third-party campaign group possible in the group, from the Unions to GetUp on the left and Advance Australia and RiteON on the right.

However, we feel that the Labor campaign in Dickson has been way too focussed in on the inner-city green type issues and has forgetting that Dickson has been an LNP seat since 2004 and the claims of Keating of Duttons “dark heart” wont be enough to wash the seat over. This is a seat where Labor needed to campaign more industrially in order to win over the blue-collar, working class belt of the seat that vote Labor overwhelmingly at state and have voted Dutton federally.

If Labor lose this, they will have lost it at the alter of a poorly targeted campaign and for preselecting the wrong candidate. Our team all agree, Linda Lavarch would have won this seat comfortably.

Prediction: Wont have a result on the night. Too close to call  

In Bonner we see Ross Vasta come up against Jo Briskey, daughter of former Labor State MP Darryl Briskey and the second of the darlings from the left faction of the Labor Party in this cycle (the other being Ali France in Dickson).

This is a seat that three months ago Labor were ‘measuring the drapes’ in with reports of Vasta being behind on the ground and in terms of cash and bodies with Labor’s generation of the 90s/2000s trying to install another child of the generation into Parliament.

In Forde, we see the rematch of the 2016 election between Bert van Manen and Des Hardman which was supposed to be the match-up in 2013 before Labor punted Hardman for Beattie in a spectacular failure which boosted van Manen’s margin and has delayed this marginal election bout one election cycle.

Labor must win both of these seats and Petrie to win government in any meaningful way and we don’t see it happening.

Prediction: Labor gain Forde, LNP retain Bonner

Everything else in South East and South West Queensland stays the same.

Once we get north of the LNP retains in Hinkler and Wide Bay we start to head into the preference lotteries. Now, despite the Galaxy seat polls which have been dropped, we warn people to be careful of 2PP polls which will need to come from long preference distributions.

Flynn is a seat that is based majorly on the Gladstone Regional Council area and has been held by Ken O’Dowd since 2010. Labor are standing Zac Beers (again) for the seat after he contested the seat last time, declared victory on the night then a few days later had to concede defeat after postal vote counting gave the seat back to the LNP.

Zac Beers is seen as the future of the regional AWU in regional Queensland and has been visited by Shorten in the middle of the election campaign. His campaign has been all about trying to reverse the last result but instead has been dogged by questions about the Adani mine and the CFMMEU pledge on coal mining.

The moment of this seats campaign will be the image of Beers and Shorten at the Gladstone Port with journalists asking Shorten whether or not he would sign the pledge and whether or not Beers had signed the pledge and trying to explain that there wasn’t a difference between the two.

This is a seat though that Labor has to get to in order to win anything in regional Queensland. If they aren’t winning Flynn, they certainly aren’t winning Capricornia or Dawson from the National party room or Leichhardt from the Liberals.

Prediction: LNP retain

Capricornia sees the perennially predicted to lose Michelle Landry up against Russell Robertson for this seat which stretches from Rockhampton to the Capricorn Coast, through the Bowen Basin coalfields and into the southern suburbs of Mackay.

Landry is the first non ALP member in 100 years to win the seat twice consecutively so the concept of writing her off is something that the Labor Party has done very well with poor outcomes.

For all the pronouncements of her death by the likes of Robert Schwarten and company she has survived and is one of the best regional grassroots MPs going around.

The complicators for the ALP campaign this time around have been immense. From the preferred Brisbane candidate not winning endorsement, local splits in the party, the Schwarten factor and the failure to deal with the coal mining issue and Adani early in the campaign has allowed the LNP to run the campaign on the issues they want to run the campaign on at a local level.

The macro complicator is the combined 20%+ minor party vote will mean a long preference count.

On the night, watch the booths from the outer suburbs of Rockhampton through to the Capricorn Coast and southern Mackay to see if the swing is on here.

Going into this, I would rather be the LNP than Labor.

Prediction: Too close to call

Dawson is the seat where the Labor Party is desperately trying to win it back from the controversial LNP MP George Christensen. Labor are standing cleanskin candidate Belinda Hassan who is being backed up by the Gilbert faction of the Labor Party in Mackay.

This is a place where the vote split to the minor parties is even higher than in Capricornia or Flynn.

We have the localised issue of the ‘Member for Manila’ tag being bandied about on Christensen but also the failure of the Labor campaign to hit the LNP with the tag on a local level.

Then there is now-Independent MP Jason Costigan endorsing the Katters Australian Party (KAP) Candidate for Dawson, Brendan Bunyan but then that candidate campaigning heavily in the Burdekin end of the seat but failing miserably to campaign in the canefields in the southern end of the Whitsundays and the northern end of Mackay. Also his campaign has been allergic to the City of Mackay all the way through. For us, this has all looked like a test run for his KAP candidacy for the State seat of Burdekin in 2020 (and a bad one at that, despite the scandal about his social media feed).

We also note though that it isn’t the canefields of Burdekin or the southern canefields north of Mackay that will decide it. It is urban voters in Mackay’s northern beaches who hold the key. This gives Labor a stronger chance than in other regional seats.

This campaign though has been dogged by Adani and coal mining just like in Capricornia and Flynn and the Hassan campaign hasn’t handled the issue as well as the ALP in Capricornia and Flynn (which isn’t a low standard) and hasn’t even signed the CFMMEU pledge as cover. Also, the lack of ability of her campaign to take George on directly hasn’t done her campaign justice on a strategic level.

Prediction: LNP retain from a long preference count

Herbert is a seat where the minor party vote has been consistently between 29%-31% as a combination of the UAP + PHON and KAP. The leading party has been changing between UAP and KAP in this seat with PHON a clear third. While we are not as confident about KAP winning as Bob is in the clip below, KAP has done well.

Cathy O’Toole at the last election only won the seat by 37 votes to start with and the preferences of the minor party combination will decide the winner here. However, with the primary votes in the low 30s for the majors it will be a very long preference count.

For everyone watching, one of the minors won’t win the seat here as the leakage from outside these parties will ensure that the votes don’t congeal behind one of the candidates in the pack, despite the hopes and dream of KAP and the UAP. We see a flow from the UAP straight to the Liberals which will stop this.

However, with some polls having Radeck as high as 14% she is getting dangerously close the ‘Dametto zone’ of being able to use preferences from below her to leapfrog the people above her in the count (PHON and FACNP will flow to KAP before UAP).

Prediction: Possible LNP gain

In Leichhardt, long term sitting MP Warren Entsch is against Elida Faith (Labor) and Dan McCarthy (KAP) as the smokey from the minor party pack. The odd thing of this being that Dan McCarthy was driven from the LNP and now presents a real threat to the LNP in this seat with the backing of KAP who now has been getting more and more media coverage in the Cairns media market as Kennedy has moved further into the southern and western suburbs of Cairns.

The Labor campaign has been poor and has missed a beat by not preselecting Cr. Richie Bates to be the Candidate. In our view this piece would be a completely different if he were the candidate. For Labor to win here, they need a convincing macro-result to flip the seat and we just don’t see that coming.

This is another seat where we expect a nice long preference count with minor parties accounting in some polls for up to 28% of the vote. This means that predicting a winner is a very difficult thing. However, considering this and the campaign Labor have run – we just cant see a Labor win here.

Prediction: LNP retain

Kennedy: KAP retain

Definition of a text newspaper ad with way too much in it that would have been way better off cut down or done in a video of some kind.

Definition of a text newspaper ad with way too much in it that would have been way better off cut down or done in a video of some kind.

New South Wales

In NSW, we head to a state where the predictions and the polls have been all over the place. At the start of this campaign, this was looking like a bad state for ScoMo. However, aside from Gilmore and Robertson going one way and Wentworth and Lindsay going the other. We can see a net zero performance in NSW as a possible best case scenario.

We don’t believe that the Greens will win any of their target seats in NSW despite valiant efforts.

We believe that Calare will go close for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers but wont get the seat from the Nationals.

We believe that Farrer will go from Sussan Ley to the Independent.

This is a state where UAP preferences will decide many of these seats in their bid to get Brian Burston re-elected to the Senate.

This makes the ‘battleground’ of urban NSW: Robertson, Banks, Gilmore, Reid and Lindsay.

Firstly, our team sees the seat being vacated by Emma Husar after her disendorsement over bullying claims. The seat is a contest between Melissa McIntosh for the Liberals and Diane Beamer for Labor.

The claims of the ‘Western Sydney’ vote are always diverse depending largely on the people proffering the concept. However, the reality is in our view that Western Sydney is so rapidly changing in its demographic composition that both major parties are struggling to keep up.

Lindsay is a more traditional marginal seat in its demographic makeup and thus why its on the table here this time.

It is because of these reasons and the vacancy that we agree with the polling out in the public space that this is a seat there for the taking for the Liberals.

Prediction: Liberal gain

As we turn to the south coast for Gilmore, we see a seat where the seat is likely to go to Gilmore on the alter of split votes, leakage and a clash of conservative egos.

The fact is, every time the parties of the right run against each other, there is always leakage which prevents the result from falling to a candidate from the right.

We are concerned that this will happen here for the Liberals in their bid to get Warren Mundine into the Parliament as a Liberal as they are relying on preference flows from Katrina Hodgkinson from the Nationals, the United Australia Party and Grant Schulz running as an Independent.

From all of the polls viewed, Labor to win the seat will need something around the 8-9% mark of preference leakage from those candidates after Green preferences are distributed. This puts it on the edge of the capacity of the vote.

There is also an equation here where the National could skip ahead of the Liberal (all be it unlikely) on Independent and UAP preferences. However, the flow would have to be a lot tighter than our team believe is likely.

Prediction: Too close to call.

Banks in our view is the marginal seat that wont go to Labor. Our research and the publicly available research shows that there is very little by way of a swing on the ground.

David Coleman is one of several Coalition ministers in serious danger of losing their seats, making Banks a key election battleground.

The Immigration Minister is on the unenviable list of ministers in jeopardy.

This was a Labor stronghold before 2013 when he won the seat for the Liberals in the Abbott swing.

Labor will run Chris Gambian, a former CFMEU official, against Coleman in a rematch of 2016.

This is the sole seat in NSW the CFMEU are devoting resources to. However, we see a situation where the seat is reacting badly to some of Labor’s policies on franking credits and the tough on borders rhetoric works here better than in other places in NSW.

Prediction: LNP retain (just)

In Robertson, we see Lucy Wicks with her 1.1% margin being in the firing line and we believe that when this seat goes to Labor, this seat will feature in stories about the number of Liberal women in the Parliament which, if things go badly tomorrow for the Liberals, could be at their lowest levels since the 1990s.

Wicks won Robertson by just 2179 votes against Labor’s Anne Charlton in 2016. This election will be a rematch between the two.

Charlton got a 1.95% swing to Labor last time and is coming back for the other 1.1% and we believe this time she will get there.

Prediction: Labor gain

While we have seen the Fairfax press, ABC and Labor sources all claim that they have Reid in the bag, we just don’t see it panning out that way for Labor so easily.

It should also be noted that Reid has the lowest prepoll numbers of any seat in NSW according to the SMH yesterday (16th).

This is a seat that has been vacated by Craig Laundy and it is our view that the handpicked Liberal candidate to replace Laundy, Dr Fiona Martin will fall short here.

Reid was won by Mr Laundy by 4.7 per cent at the 2016 election, though it had been held by Labor almost continuously prior to 2013.

An early voting report compiled by the AEC shows 9.8 per cent of the Reid electorate had voted. Another marginal Sydney seat, Banks, also had a relatively low turn-out, with 12.3 per cent of electors having voted.

Prediction: Too close to call

At this point, we should also mention we see everything in SA and the NT staying as is, despite Labor hopes of winning back Boothby (on the umpteenth try) and CLP hopes of rolling Warren Snowden in Lingiari.


As we move to Victoria we see a repeat of the Queensland swing pattern. A swing that is based in the centre of Melbourne and emanating out from there. This is why there are polls out there showing big swings against the Liberals in places like Kooyong and Higgins (where coincidentally Climate Change ranks as a much higher order issue) and falls away to the places where its needed.

However, before we get into the grim news for the Liberals, we believe that Indi will come back to the Coalition this time. Independents almost never get to pass their seats from Independent to Independent at the same level and the chances of this working here in Indi just is too remote.

Firstly, we can see the notionally Labor seats of Corangamite and Dunkley electing Labor members on very small margins.

If Labor can’t do this - Bill Shorten should write out his resignation speech as the Leader of Opposition tomorrow night.

The only other seat in Victoria we can see going to Labor is the seat of Chisholm. After the Julia Banks saga, Gladys Liu will contest the seat for the Liberals against Jennifer Yang who will contest it for Labor after her failed run for Mayor of Melbourne.

Critics believe Banks’ decision to switch seats was partly because both major party candidates are Chinese-Australian in a seat where almost 20 per cent of voters have Chinese heritage.

Liu, a maverick campaigner and prominent member of the Chinese community, will benefit from a recent electorate redistribution which boosted the party’s margin from 1.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent.

But the controversy over Banks’ exit, Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting and the perception of ongoing division will hurt her chances.

Prediction: Labor gain

The seat, which Liberal MP Jason Wood holds on a 3.2 per cent margin, has been heavily targeted by Labor during the this campaign. Polling has showed the Liberal primary going statistically no where but a rising Labor primary.

The strong primary vote here plus the fact that YouGov polling released today has the primary at 43% means you cant rule the Libs out of this seat.

Labor has to win here to win government as it needs minimum 4 seats in Victoria.

Prediction: Liberal retain

With recent reports that Michael Sukkar is in trouble, it means that the Speaker Tony Smith would be in trouble as well. While we don’t see Casey going red this time around, Deakin is more likely.

Sukkar is part of the Coalition’s far-right faction and was one of the key forces behind last year’s chaotic attempt to install Peter Dutton as prime minister.

Labor has seized on anger in the electorate, distributing materials reminding voters there of Mr Sukkar’s alliances with former PM and fellow hard-right figure Tony Abbott.

Climate change has emerged as the key issue in Deakin too, with Mr Sukkar a prominent climate sceptic.

For these reasons we see Deakin as in trouble for the Liberals.

Predictions: Casey Liberal retain, Deakin Liberal retain

Everything else in Victoria stays the same.

Western Australia

Going to Western Australia, which like Queensland, is often seen as the ‘weird’ states in the country and has been a state of reliably conservative seats which the Coalition cant afford to have eaten away at.

Firstly here we believe that Ken Wyatt will lose in Hasluck. Its always been a tight seat and last time it nearly fell to Labor and this time we just don’t see Wyatt being so lucky to dodge the bullet.

His personal popularity saved him last time but the Liberals are coming off the high water marks of 2013 and 2016 and this is the first in the firing line.

Prediction: Labor gain

The other seat we as in contention here is Hannah Beasley (daughter of Kim) trying to win the seat of Swan from Steve Irons on a margin of 3.6%. This is the best case scenario for Labor and we just don’t see it coming off for Labor here.

Despite her fathers popularity in the state, the Libs falling popularity and the multitude of visits from luminaries on both sides – just see this as too far, especially without a big statewide swing to back it up.

Prediction: Liberal retain


When we head to the final state in the equation. This is where the final piece of the puzzle comes together. ScoMo is trying to repair the damage that Turnbull caused in this state when he lost everything in 2016. At this election, Braddon and Bass is play for the Liberals in a state where the State Government is doing well and the space between the popularity of the state government and the federal government is being filled up.

Bass has changed hands four times in the last six elections. Labor won in 2016 with a 10 per cent swing in their favour. Two of the parties which contested the 2016 federal election are not fielding candidates this time around: the Renewable Energy Party and the Christian Democratic Party. They took around 5 per cent between them. The Nationals are newcomers, as are the United Australia and Animal Justice parties. The Palmer United Party scored 5.3 per cent of the vote at its sole outing in 2013.

At the last federal election, Justine Keay defeated Liberal Brett Whitely, with a swing of 4.8 per cent on a two-party preferred basis and was re-elected in a byelection.

Prediction: Bass and Braddon too close to call

The virtues of innoculation

The old adage starts out “an ounce of prevention…”  The wisdom is thainoculation theory t a pound of cure, after exposure to a harmful element, is far more expensive and painful than the cost of dealing with the issue before it becomes harmful.

When Ben Franklin first imparted his advice, he did not limit it to medicine.  Far from it.  His statement is an analogy that is relevant in nearly every facet of life – including politics.

When deciding to run for office, candidates must be honest with themselves.  They must take stock of their shortcomings and their “youthful indiscretions.”  Candidates must take full account of their controversial decisions and votes.  They must inventory their own “derogatories” because any opponent with a scintilla of common sense will have their own catalog of your shortcomings with which they might attack.

Once a candidate knows his own points of weakness, he can evaluate which ones might be the most damaging in a campaign.  Of those damaging issues, a candidate can narrow down the ones that the opponent most likely knows.  Of those, which ones are best documented?  Of the issues left, which ones does the opponent have the moral high ground, meaning she does not have the same shortcomings?  Finally, a candidate must evaluate how much money the opponent likely has and how much of that budget they might be willing to spend on an attack.

A campaign should be able to identify the one or two issues most likely to be used in an attack.  Once this is known, creating a plan to mitigate or even prevent an attack is imperative.

In politics, this process is referred to as “inoculation”.  Inoculation can come in many forms, but the idea is that a campaign take control of an issue, and tell its own story, before the opponent decides to go on the attack.

Direct mail is an excellent venue to deliver an inoculation.  A campaign should be able to target the audience deemed most important in order to win a campaign.  A campaign can pinpoint, with amazing accuracy, the precise households that will be most receptive and impacted by an inoculation message.

As with television and the Internet, direct mail is a visual medium.  A campaign must be able to tell a story with powerful images, while using as few words as possible, to achieve its goals in direct mail.  If a candidate wishes to inoculate against a youthful indiscretion, for instance, using a photo of a youthful candidate while describing the “offense” is an effective way to contrast with a more mature candidate now.  Another critical element in an inoculation effort is to explain how the recovery from the youthful indiscretion makes the candidate a stronger, better choice than if the incident never occurred.

Another reason direct mail is an excellent medium to use is the fact that it is more difficult for an opponent to track.  When a campaign purchases television or radio, a public record exists that is available to the opposition.  The opponent will know the exact audience that the campaign is trying to reach, and that allows the opposition to mount a counterstrike.  With direct mail, the mailing list that a campaign uses is proprietary.  Unless the opponent is engaging in some level of unlawful espionage, the mail list is known only to the campaign manager and the mail house – both of whom have professional obligations of confidentiality and nondisclosure.

In some cases a campaign may want to increase the effectiveness of its inoculation message.  A corresponding digital campaign can be targeted to IP addresses associated with the mail list used for the inoculation direct mail piece.  This tactic ensures that the same households targeted for direct mail will also be targeted for the digital ad.  The digital ad can link to the candidate’s web site, social media, or another location that is designed to tell the same story in the direct mail.

The nature of inoculation means that a campaign is choosing to be proactive before the opposition wages an attack.  There is never a guarantee that an opponent will go on the attack.  However, a compelling case can be made to create an inoculation when the issue in question is one that will move voters.  The motivation towards inoculation becomes stronger if the issue is one that is available in public records.  Another factor to assist in the decision to create an inoculation message is the resources of the opposition.  By studying publicly available finance reports, a campaign can evaluate if the opponent has enough resources to issue a negative message.

Whether or not to issue an inoculation is a decision that a candidate should not make on his or her own.  Objective, experienced, and skilled consultants can help guide a campaign in tough situations such as these.  The professionals at Gravis Insights Australia are experienced and trained to handle the most difficult campaigns.  No matter what situation you are facing, Gravis has been there.  Gravis can help you tell your story, and Gravis can help you identify the exact audience for each story.

GIA rules for robocalls (updated)

As tech advances in politics come into the mainstream, there are more and more debates about what works and what doesn't. At GIA, we believe that despite what some campaigns see as 'push back' on robocalls, robocalls are a part of the campaign repertoire when used properly and in the context of a good overall campaign plan. 

We have seen this work to devastating effects in terms of positive campaigning to boost a candidates name ID and/or promotion of an issue. We have also seen these used to devastating effect in a negative context going back to elections as early as 2009. 

In 2017 in Queensland, we saw robocalls from movements such as Cherish Life, people get their first ever robocall from Pauline Hanson and their first ever robocall from Bob Katter. After this, we have gone through our original 'robocall' rules concept and updated them with what we have learned. 

Therefore, here are our GIA top 10 tips for robocalls:

1. Verify legality. Check to make sure the area(s) you will be targeting allow automated calls. Find out about any rules and regulations you’ll need to follow. This means making sure that the calls are authorised. 

2. Inspire and inform. Be inspiring and fact-based in your message.

3. Be concise. Keep messages relatively brief — between 30 and 45 seconds is ideal.

4. Thank your constituents. Be upbeat, positive and express gratitude for voter support in your message.

5. Call early in the cycle. Dont wait until the final run in to start robocalling. Call through out the cycle in order to maximise impact.  (The exception to this would be if you need to respond to recent direct attacks or must address an issue immediately.

6. Call selectively. Use focused, deliberate and selective calling — do not bombard constituents with multiple similar messages in a short period of time. For parties planning the seats to robocall into, be judicious as to which seats get which format of robocall (leader, candidate, outside notable or combination).

7. Call during weekdays. Send robocall messages during the day. Strive to leave the messages on voicemail; about 70% residents are not home during the day, and you’ll be able to deliver your complete message. You’ll avoid interrupting the voter and they can listen to your message at their convenience. Furthermore, we need to remember that ACMA and the Do Not Call Register has specific times that calls are allowed in.

8. Real phone numbers. Use a real phone number associated with your campaign for your calls; caller ID numbers that look false will likely not be taken seriously. Remember that if the candidates phone number is going to be used, don't answer the phone back during the calls being run - those calls will be the 'kick back' mentioned above. Use virtual numbers to house robocalls where possible. It also means that the 'kick back' can be more easily screened and any supportive responses can be more easily followed up by the candidate.

9. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute; plan and strategize your call scripts carefully. The ideal planning cycle for a robo call is about a week to 10 days, so set aside at least that amount of time for each message. Planning also means that you can decide whether or not to use the voice of the candidate, the voice of the leader of the party or the voice of an 'outside notable'

10. Pace yourself. When you start your calls, use a pace that is steady and also compliant with the local capacity for the area.

Liberian Election (and what comes next)

The Liberian elections have been one of the hotly contested elections this year ending in a runoff between  Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party, (UP).  Winning an election is not always a rosy affair as seen by the recent happenings in Liberia. In the previous poll, George Weah led by a small margin but unfortunately failed to hit the 50% of votes cast mark. This scenario automatically triggered off a runoff. The runoff was almost a foregone certainty as it is difficult to win 50% of the first ballots cast when there are over twenty candidates in the first round of elections. 

There has been no peaceful transfer of power from a sign president to the next in Liberian since 1944. However, 2017 will most likely see this happen as the outgoing president, Sirleaf will peacefully hand over power to either Boakai or Weah.  

We contest that this will be Weah. 

Weah enjoys broad support among people from divergent social, political and ethnic groups in Liberia. Winning an election requires a contestant to consolidate his or her support from all sections of the society. In Liberia, the support of the youth is most important. George Weah attributes a large number of his supporters from youth to the endorsement and support he received from Doe at the star of his football career. Weah is no doubt considered a football legend and god in Liberia. This fact and the huge number of youths in the country will most likely propel him towards the election win. He will, however, need a cross-party support and validation in order to fulfil the coveted 50% plus one vote requirement. 

This is shown not only by the massive number of new votes the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has won in the first round of the election but the number of new counties that the CDC was unable to penetrate in 2011 or 2014 which it has won (and in some cases convincingly) but also since the runoff, the number of losing parties that have endorsed the CDC for the December 26 runoff election.

A review of the current happenings in Liberian indicates that CDC has all of these winning qualities. For instance, CDC enjoys support from the largest county, Montserrado. George Weah himself is a senior Senator from the largest county.  Secondly, CDC has a large youth support and is very active in youth mobilization. Between the ballot rounds, Weah has secured the endorsements of many youth wings of different political parties that did not make it to the second round. This kind of political mobilization if intensified will most likely see George Weah win the election.

A review of the Liberian election landscape reveals that a total of 15 counties are present.  The largest of these counties in terms of population is Montserrado. A party with the largest number of voters from the largest county as well as support from a significant number of the smaller ones is most likely to win the elections. Additionally, the country has 60% of its registered voters as youths.  This shows that the party that is more oriented and that will manage to mobilize the youth vote will most likely carry the day. Cross-party support will also be important since a runoff is a unique voting experience requiring vote consolidation from across the board. 

The fact that Liberians are yearning for change from the status quo implies that a majority will not vote in the current Vice President who is viewed by many as a poster child of Liberian’s arrogant elitism. Instead, they would vote in George Weah, an anti-elitist campaigner hoping to devolve power back to the people.  Perhaps one of the recent legal boost to Weah’s camp was the dismissal of Charles Brumskine’s appeal against Weah’s first-round win. The political implication of the dismissal is great since it confirms to the entire world that the appeal, which was supported by the ruling party, was defective and hence politically vindicated Weah and CDC from any wrongdoing,  

One of the most important implications of George Weah’s win is that incumbency can indeed be lodged in present-day Africa. It’s quite surprising that a candidate who lacks proper formal education like Weah enjoys a huge national following and thwarts the popularity of highly educated contenders.  This would mean that the level of democratization in Liberia has grown and liberalism is highly practiced in the nation. Perhaps the negative political implications of George Weah’s win would be the return to the national politics of Charles Taylor’s family through his wife, Jewel Taylor.  Jewel Taylor’s party National Patriotic Party (NPP) formed a coalition agreement with the George Weah’s CDC to the dismay of the international community.

George Weah will no doubt win the upcoming runoff elections due to his political machinations and posturing.  The ability of his CDC party to lure in likeminded parties to face the incumbency will no doubt play a significant role in creating a huge voting bloc that is capable of dislodging the incumbent authority. 

However, the biggest challenge for the CDC in our view is not just winning, but governing. We have seen recent examples in Europe where new parties (eg. En Marche) where they have won elections on massive margins then seen popular swings against them as they prove that they are unable to make the lofty promises and imagery of campaigning turn into the content of actual governing. 

This has seen in those countries massive falls in popularity of the new government, in a quick period of time (in France its been a record). The CDC needs to learn from this and get control of the apparatus of government quickly in order to survive. 

The governing element of a country like Liberia is something that the Sirleaf/Boakai administration has failed to accomplish. The country will need to build a budget, with new revenue sources going into a Treasury that allows the Weah agenda of economic development to come to fruition. The revenue will also need a new economic compliance and regulatory system and the development of a whole new set of public service agencies in order to implement it all. 

Our targets for them would be a multinational diverted profits tax or a ‘google tax’ in the same way that the UK and Australia have cracked down on multinational profit shifting. There have been many reports from entities such as the Tax Justice Network about Liberia “ a little-known offshore business registry that has created tens of thousands of anonymous companies and registered them to a non-existent address in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Although these companies are technically a creation of Liberian law, management of the registry is based in the United States and appears to have the support of the US government.
The companies, which can be purchased online, offer near-total anonymity to their clients, allowing them to hide assets without fear of being caught by law enforcement or revenue authorities.”

Furthermore, the use of non-resident corporations in Liberia allows billions of dollars be hid in Liberia by foreign corporations, without the Liberian Treasury seeing a cent of it in taxation. 
Finally, there is the revenue from shipping flags. During the Ebola crisis, the US$20 Million in revenue was all the Treasury was getting from these registrations which made up 6% of the total revenue intake for the government. This is despite that these companies only take the Liberian flag (and Panama flag) in order to dodge international regulations in relation to a host of things, such as the environment, labour law and the state of the ships themselves. 
In a new administration, there is no reason why the government can see this as a potential new stable revenue source for the budget.

Overseeing this, the government will also need to deliver a new, tough corruption enforcement agency. This needs to not just be for multinational companies dealing in the country but for public officials as well. New people dealing in the country need to be reassured of their legal standing in dealings and the public needs to learn as economic evolution comes to the country; that this is not being done with public officials being enriched along the way. 

Liberia will also need personal income tax reform along the way as incomes rise. For the economy to grow in the short to medium term, the emphasis should be on corporate tax revenue and allow personal and consumption taxes to be as low as possible. This can then change as economic growth comes in and incomes start to rise.

The development of the middle class should be priority one economic policy.

The country needs new foreign direct investment badly. Whether it be in the commercial space, major infrastructure or in new residential sector investment. Currently, many investors are put off by the concept as many have faced legal uncertainty, the need for ‘commissions’ or ‘bribes’ to make business happen or other unscrupulous business practices by either private sector entities or public-sector figures. 

This needs to change for Liberia to change. The challenge for the new CDC government won’t be winning this Boxing Day, it will be understanding the size of what comes next.

Queensland Election 2017: The Recap

This is the wrap up where we analyse what went right, what went wrong, what’s still in doubt and where to from here. We are open and honest about in our methodologies and assessments.

Of the predictions we have missed, they all come back to where our teams have allocated Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to either win the seat in their own right or to push a party over on preferences. 

Our team identified the final week drop in the PHON vote as we revealed in the initial election report. However, this fall in their vote was not proportional, such as the similar drop they suffered in the middle of the year amongst the saga of donations, disclosures and who owned the plane.

The drop from 20% statewide to 12% statewide can all be linked to collapses in their primary votes in safe Labor seats. The soft Labor vote got spooked and “came home”. 

In these seats they have collapsed between 15%-23% and this has not only prevented them from winning, but prevented them from pushing over the second candidate in the count to win the seat.

Example: In Capalaba PHON between February and November had never polled below 29% and in all bar one of those samples, the LNP came third. However, in the final week, Labor defecting PHON voters went back to the party after they were scared by the ALP Campaign (very well) that voting for PHON would deliver a Nicholls Government with PHON.

The big lessons for the LNP out of this has to be that PHON voters don’t follow HTVs and the pain will be felt in the South East if PHON is going to continue to be seen as a genuine alternative rather than a minor party.

For us, the big winners out of this campaign are Katter’s Australia Party (KAP). Despite being completely ignored during the campaign they potentially can increase their seat count from two to three (Hinchinbrook) and give themselves a 33% win rate of seats contested.

The KAP has shown that they are a party that can gain voters from PHON that are uneasy about the ramifications of voting for PHON (see every seat KAP stood in that they didn’t hold). The only seat KAP did poorly in, was the seat of Whitsunday where in our view, KAP should stop trying to run in (in the region, they should be in Mirani and Burdekin). This is the only seat they have not polled in the double digits in.

If KAP expanded and ran proper campaigns in Central Queensland and Western Queensland, we would not rule them out for being competitive at the next Queensland election in two years, ten months from now. We would also not rule them out of contention federally for a Senate seat either.

In the view of our team, this incessant ‘calling’ of seats from media outlets and bookmakers is futile, particularly in close election contests. This week will start to see some real preference distributions which will determine where seats fall, not just where media commentators want to call seats as won or lost and premature payouts from bookmakers.

Queensland Election Analysis and Predictions

Our GravisPolitics and GravisResearch teams have again plugged the numbers, analysing the aggregates of all polling to date combined with our own quantitative, qualitative and touch-point research to shine a light on one of the most unpredictable elections in Queensland’s history.

Overall, we believe that Labor started the campaign terribly and the LNP started OK. However, as the election has come together, the Labor campaign in the final week has found some rigour. The campaign has stopped wandering off into places such as Condamine and Nanango and has come home the better of the two parties.

Either major party faces a long wait to 47 seats; if they make 47 at all.

These are our key landmarks over-riding guidelines we see for this election:

  • All of the parties involved have the biggest 'battlefield' of seats ever as PHON force the major parties to defend seats they would not normally need to defend from each other. 
  • As PHON are taking votes from both Labor and the LNP; the net effect of this means that this election is practically more like 93 byelections.
  • Labor nominally start on 48 seats, the LNP on 42, with Traeger, Hill and Nicklin with Independents.
  • From this; Labor needs to win back Cook and Cairns from Labor MPs that now sit as Independents, LNP need to win back Buderim from Steve Dickson and Nicklin has a retiring Independent MP.
  • The lack of candidates from KAP is a strategic blunder on their part.
  • PHON not standing in McAllister and Springwood are strategic blunders on their part (understandable considering they are essentially a new party, but still a blunder)
  • The length of time it has taken the LNP to find a candidate for the new seat of Jordan has cost them a real shot at that seat.
  • The LNP decision to preference Trad in South Brisbane over the Greens will be one of the most hotly debated points in this election.
  • The seats where there are 4 or more parties in the double digits on the primary vote won't have a result on the night.

Note: PHON has put at risk some of their socially conservative, religious voters with controversies about masturbation, sex toys and sex shops in relation to Safe Schools and their Candidate for Thuringowa. Qualitative case study: There’s ‘a 35-55 year old, female voter in regional Queensland’ that has dropped support for PHON in the last week. They needed to solidify these voters back in the final week to poll well in the places they can win. Final week research has shown PHON have lost support in this regard.

Preference Equation

Predicting seat-to-seat results has been a nightmare for researchers. In this analysis, we include qualitative assessments rather than only adopting the concept of 'preference flow modelling' as many pollsters will do. We have real-time touchpoint panels of voters whereby we track qualitative sentiment in addition to our quantitative track polling.

During this final week we have increasingly seen a dynamically changing system of preferencing outcomes. This makes the concept of modelling PHON preferences in any given seat absolute folly in our opinion. Our research has reflected that this election is somewhat akin to treating this election like 93 byelections.

From our research summaries we can provide insight on preferencing from all aggregate polling assessments, our own quantitative polling and our touch research panels as follows:

  • Maximum 10% region-to-region difference in flows between PHON voters following a HTV versus not following a HTV in any given seat in any given region. However, the biggest dissent is in the regions (Toowoomba North, Glass House and Whitsunday top the list) where upwards of 25% of voters for PHON have said in research they will consider rebelling against PHON over the card; whether that be by not voting PHON or by not following the HTV and preferencing the LNP over Labor.
  • The ‘RiteON’ concept of handing out Independent branded cards encouraging voters to preference the LNP if they are voting Pauline Hansons One Nation (PHON) will be largely effective. However, it was organised far too late to achieve the maximum effect it possibly could have.
    • The LNP flows will distribute at approximately 65-70% to PHON. We don’t see a lot of difference as to whether the LNP card says to preference PHON or not. The argument about LNP preferences is essentially a red herring.
    • Where PHON preferences flow will vary wildly. This will largely depend on who suffers in the primary swing (from the major parties) to construct that PHON primary vote. Look for an element of proportionality in the preference distribution back where PHON votes exhaust.
  • Labor will wind up saving LNP MPs with their strategy of making PHON last on every HTV. The proportion of flows will be very interesting and shock many in Labor, in our GravisPolitics team’s view. In some seats, the flow to PHON has been tested as high as 62%. Though that has reduced to a high of 52% in the final week.

The road home to victory

The above research into preference flow modelling and the rapidly changing dynamics of this election present several pathways for possible victory for both major parties.

The LNP are preferencing the Greens last and allocating 2nd preferences to PHON in 50 seats. Labor are putting PHON last in every seat. These play key roles in determining the pathways to voctory as summarised below.

In order for the LNP to win they need to:

  • Win back the nominally Labor seats of Mansfield, Mount Ommaney and Burdekin.
  • Win the new seats of Ninderry and Bonney.
  • Win back Nicklin after the retirement of Peter Wellington and win back Buderim from the new leader of PHON, Steve Dickson. 
  • Hold the nominally LNP seat of Pumicestone and defend the nominally LNP seat of Lockyer v PHON.
  • Defend Redlands, Everton, Glass House, Whitsunday, Bonney, Maiwar, Aspley and Gaven from the obvious attacks from Labor.
  • Defend Scenic Rim, Hinchinbrook, Nanango, Condamine and Callide from PHON.

If all of these happened perfectly, the LNP would find itself with 48 seats and government in its own right. However, the LNP still has a battleground of seats it needs to win from Labor to comfortably form a margin. This includes winning from Labor a combination of Bundaberg, Springwood, Barron River, Mundingburra, Mirani and Keppel. We would also throw into the mix that the LNP stands a chance of winning Cairns, Pine Rivers, Pumicestone and Miller.

In order for Labor win they need to:

  • Hold the nominally Labor, non-ALP MP seats of Burdekin, Mansfield and Mount Ommaney. 
  • Win back the seats of Cook, Cairns and win the new seats of Jordan and Bancroft. 
  • Successfully win the new Murrumba with the current MP for Mt Coot-tha, Steven Miles.
  • Prevent the seats of Logan, Ipswich, Ipswich West, Capalaba, Kurwongbah, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Mackay, Burdekin, Mirani, Keppel, Thuringowa and Mulgrave go to PHON. 
  • Win a combination of Redlands, Everton, Glass House, Whitsunday, Toowoomba North and Gaven from the LNP. 

Make no mistake, if Labor is to form a comfortable majority they will have the Gold Coast to thank with seats like Bonney and Gaven combined with a regional seat such as Toowoomba North. Such seats have flown under many analysts’ radar and even largely overlooked by both parties.

This will also mean that Labor opened up a new front on the LNP in Maiwar, Aspley and Everton and took the seats out.

In assessing the following “target seats” we first break the races down into three categories:

  • Competitive: LNP v ALP
  • Competitive: ALP v PHON
  • Competitive: LNP v PHON

LNP v ALP Competitive Races


This seat will go down to the wire. We have seen polling at the 29% primary vote for both the LNP and ALP, with PHON and KAP combined scoring between 27-30% of the vote between them. This makes the seat a real three-way contest.

Our GravisPolitics team concludes this to be one of the most odd looking seats in Queensland and one of the most complex to assess on the entire map.

This was a nail-biter in 2015 and Labor’s Bronwyn Taha is lining up for a rematch against LNP incumbent Jason Costigan.

The extra screwball in this equation (aside from the fact this is a former PHON seat) is that former Mayor of Whitsunday, Jenny Whitney, is the KAP Candidate for Whitsunday in addition to a former One Nation MP endorsing current LNP MP, Jason Costigan.

Prediction: Too close to call but we will - LNP win in one of the tightest counts in the election



If Whitsunday is the strangest seat in Queensland to try and work out, McAllister is the second most weird seat to work out.

This is because PHON is not running here however BraveHearts CEO Hetty Johnston is running as an Independent.

This is a new seat. The Labor Candidate here is Melissa McMahon who ran for Albert in 2015 against the LNP MP Mark Boothman, who is now contesting the seat of Theodore.

The LNP Candidate for this seat is Beenleigh local and wife of LNP MP for Forde, Bert van Manen.

This one will come down to Hetty Johnston preferences.

The decision of PHON not to stand here is sheer insanity from the position of our team.

Prediction: Labor Gain


This has been a target seat for the LNP ever since they lost it in a close race in 2015. This is a seat based ostensibly on the Livingstone Shire Council boundaries. The LNP Candidate for the seat is Peter Blundell who is the brother of famous musician, James Blundell. Blundell has been attacked locally for being a 'blow in' from Stanthorpe and for starting his campaign by attacking the popular Mayor of Livingstone, Bill Ludwig. 

The incumbent here is Brittany Lauga who won the seat in 2015. Lauga is considered one of the better campaigners that Labor has in the regions and has had to step in to fix the campaign of Labor's in Rocky. 

However, this seat is a genuine three-way. PHON has put up Matthew Loth for the seat who has run a good grassroots campaign with lots of support from Pauline Hanson herself with her frequent visits. This is a seat that PHON hopes to upset the apple cart in.

This will be difficult though as PHON will find it hard to get space in seats like this where both the major parties are making a serious play for the seat. Our teams believe that Rockhampton is a better chance then Keppel for PHON.

Prediction: LNP gain


This outer Brisbane based seat was won by Tim Mander in 2012 and 2015. Since then Mander has run in (and lost) two leadership elections for the LNP leadership. Mander is against David Greene from the MUA. The MUA is loading up the seat from activists from all over the place to get one of their own into Parliament. 

This will be a tight seat under CPV. 

Prediction: Too Close to Call


This seat on the south side of Brisbane is one of the key seats to watch in the spectrum of the entire election. This seat was a marginal seat after the 2015 election when now Shadow Attorney General, Ian Walker held on to the seat for the LNP.  This is shown by the number of funding commitments both sides of politics have made in the seat (and surrounding seats to benefit the seat).

However, with the redistribution sending the seat into parts of Mt Gravatt from Greenslopes the seat has been turned into a nominally Labor seat.

Labor has run a solid on the ground campaign with their local candidate, Corinne McMillan who is a local High School Principal.

The wildcard here, is former deli-boy and one time LNP MP Neil Symes who is running for the seat for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON). The LNP defector left the LNP after realising he would not win a preselection in a safer LNP seat. Instead he is running in Mansfield (where he has not much of a chance of winning) and is preferencing against the LNP as a part of the ‘sitting members last’ policy announced by PHON.

This will be the major test for the LNP to see whether they can court the 60%+ of PHON preferences that some in the LNP circles think that they can get from PHON voters. They will need this sort of preference flow to have a hope of holding on here.

Prediction: Probable Labor Gain (watch the PHON preferences) - almost too close to call

Mt Ommaney

This is traditionally a bellwether seat which was won by Bob Harper for the Liberal Party (RIP Bob) in 1995, lost in 1998 and then regained for the LNP in 2012 by Tarnya Smith. For many it was a surprise that Tarnya Smith held on after the routing in 2015.

However, with the redistribution sending the seat into Darra from Inala, this has also made the seat a nominally Labor seat.

In this seat though, the LNP ground game is far superior to Labor’s and the Labor candidate is far weaker here then in a seat like Mansfield (Jessica Pugh is running again).

The other thing to note in this seat is that the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Candidate (PHON) is Ian Eugarde. His on the ground campaign is non-existent. Therefore, he will get what the proverbial ‘drovers dog’ would get on a PHON corflute.

In our view on about 55% of PHON preferences, Tarnya is re-elected. On anything less, it is nerve wracking.

This is a seat where Labor’s CPV voting changes could cut both ways for Labor.

Prediction: Too Close to Call


Many people would ask why on earth has the GravisPolitics team got Maiwar in the list of competitive seats? Well the answer is simple. Under Optional Preferential Voting (OPV), this seat would never be a part of the equation.

However, under CPV the Labor + Greens equation puts this seat clearly in the picture as a possible gain for Labor.

This seat is a combination of suburbs from the former electorate of Mt Coot-tha (currently held by the fleeing Steve Miles) and current Shadow Treasurer, Scott Emerson (currently in Indooroopilly). This has cut the LNPs nominal margin to 3%. 

The new LNP margin of 3.0% compares to 6.7% for Indooroopilly and a Labor margin of 2.6% for Mount Coot-tha. The first preference results based on the 2015 election are LNP 47.7%, Labor 29.1% and Greens 20.4%.

We can’t see a situation where Emerson holds this seat unless he pulls his primary up to atleast 46%. Otherwise the Labor + Green vote would defeat him with an 85% preference flow rate.

Prediction: Possible Labor Gain


We have this in the LNP v ALP section but it is really a three-way race between the LNP, ALP and PHON in the seat.

The seat is currently held by LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister, Dale Last who won the seat in 2015 after Rosemary Menekens retired and he survived the 2015 routing.

Labor is fielding former Mayor of the Bowen Shire and current Whitsunday Councillor Mike ‘Moscow’ Brunker and PHON is standing in this seat, their Deputy Queensland Leader and former LNP MP for Thuringowa, Sam Cox.

This seat is on paper, nominally a Labor seat with a margin of around 1.5% (without PHON in it).

Wulguru and the outer suburbs of Townsville have been transferred to Mundingburra. The seat then gains Moranbah from the abolished seat of Dalrymple, Clermont from Gregory and areas around Dysart from Mirani. These changes increase the mining vote in the district and overturn the LNP's majority.

This therefore makes Burdekin the ‘mining and sugar’ seat and takes all the mining voters out of the seat of Mirani which is also a marginal seat in this section (which we will deal with later).

In the polling we have seen and completed in the seat, it has been a statistical three way dead heat. However, in every sample, the PHON Candidate is third in the samples (by less then any margin of error). In that equation, with a 50% preference flow, Dale Last would survive. In three way splits though, predicting things is sheer madness.

We note that this seat will come down to a handful of votes to determine who’s preferences distribute. If the LNP distribute, PHON win. If ALP distribute, LNP win, If PHON distribute, its anyones to win.

In relation to PHON preferences in the seat, we note two things. One, there is a large percentage of the PHON vote coming from disaffected blue-collar unionised voters in places such as Bowen, Collinsville, Dysart and Moranbah. In all of the GravisPolitics touch preference models, Labor voters defecting the PHON are 85% likely to give Labor their second preference to the LNP. The other factor which flows into that is that PHON are preferencing Labor ahead of the LNP (which is weird on policy grounds but tactically a part of the PHON plan).

Prediction: Too Close to Call


If the LNP don’t win this, the LNP campaign team deserve a bullet. After three years of scandal against the now former ALP sitting member (Rick Williams), a massive ‘flick rick’ campaign and on the eve of the election having Labor disendorse the sitting member which triggered the election, this is the LNP’s to lose.

Rick Williams only got elected on 41% of the primary vote in 2015, making him one of the worst performing MPs to enter the Parliament in 2015.

However, to the shock of many, popular former LNP MP Lisa France did not recontest the seat. Instead the LNP is standing newbie, Simone Wilson.

Historical fact, this seat forms a part of the former seat of Caboolture which was a PHON seat in 1998 and the home of former leader of One Nation, Bill Feldman. We therefore see a situation where the PHON preference flows from the booths on Bribie Island too the LNP should see Simone Wilson elected.

Prediction: LNP gain

Glass House

This is a seat that after the 2015 election, the margin was as such that Labor was always going to have a go to win this seat in 2017. The Labor Party are running Brent Hampstead again for the seat who contested the seat in 2015. However, being a candidate not funded by a major union, his campaign is not as well put together and funded as other Labor campaigns in target marginal seats.

The seat has been held by Shadow Transport and Main Roads Minister Andrew Powell who won the seat in 2009 (after former Labor Member Carolyn Male fled after a bad redistribution).

Our GravisPolitics team believes that this seat is probably a step too far for Labor to pick up in this electoral cycle. Published polling has the LNP leading in Glass House with a decent margin. 

However, the margins on the primary vote in this mean that the PHON decision to preference Labor ahead of the LNP in the seat means that there has been some retaliatory action in the seat to try and protect it for Andrew Powell.

The PHON Candidate here is Tracey Bell-Henselin. Her campaign got off to a bad start after her social media was revealed to be heavily homophobic.

On the day, expect to see people from the group RiteOn handing out how to vote cards urging PHON voters to ignore the PHON How to Vote (HTV) and to preference the LNP over Labor. This is largely as a result of conservative voters backlash against the PHON decision to preference their local sitting MP (who is a conservative) behind a Labor candidate.

In combination with this, the seat has been hit with robocalls from Cherish Life and Sunshine Coast Safe Communities urging voters to put Labor last on the back of issues such as power prices, unemployment and abortion. 

Fundamentally, we see a situation where the 25%+ that PHON is polling coming largely from the LNP. This will mean that if PHON preferences flow at anything around 50% or more would see the LNP retain the seat.

Prediction: LNP retain

Source: Sharable from  Brent Hampstead  Facebook page

Source: Sharable from Brent Hampstead Facebook page

Pine Rivers

This is a seat that the LNP needs to be winning in order to get to 47 seats in their own right, The sitting MP here is Nikki Boyd who won the seat in 2015 from Seath Holswich (contesting this as an Independent).

The whole of the Moreton Bay region seats have seen a major redistribution as a ripple from the introduction of the new seat of Bancroft. This has seen Pine Rivers go regional and take in Dayboro and the broader Samford Valley into the seat which has cut the nominal Labor margin (and making Ferny Grove safer).

The LNP Candidate here is Chris Thompson who is a newbie to the political game.

Despite the troubles Nikki Boyd has had internally in her branches and some of her relationships with the left, her polling is still around the 35% mark.

With CPV, she should be able to narrowly get home in this equation.

Prediction: Labor retain


This is a must watch seat in this election. This seat was won by Mick de Brenni (Housing Minister) on a slender margin in 2015 from former Logan City Councillor John Grant. However, with the redistribution sending the seat into Mount Cotton and Sheldon in Redland City, the Labor margin has been slashed. De Brenni is lucky Cornubia has gone into McAllister or he would be in even more trouble.

The LNP are standing Cr. Julie Talty who is the Division 6 Councillor on Redland City Council. Our GravisPolitics team predicted she would be looking for higher honours in this term of Council and we were right. On Council, Talty represents on Redland City Council all of the Redland voters that are now in the seat of Springwood and has done since her first win to Council in 2012.

Talty’s father John Burns was a long-term Councillor in Redland City.

With no PHON Candidate standing in the seat, Talty realistically needs greater than 45% primary to have a chance of winning. Our GravisPolitics team has conducted polling and has seen other samples taken in the seat to suggest that this is possible. However, it will be very close with Green + Labor preference flows possibly cruelling her chances to win.

This has been a dirty seat with a Labor volunteer being charged with threatening Talty's husband and massive sign losses becoming an issue.

Prediction: LNP gain on the back of a strong local campaign



This is another one of the new seats that have been created by the ECQ in order to expand the Parliament to 93 seats. This seat has been formed at the northern end of the Gold Coast formed from parts of Broadwater and Southport. This is a nominally safe LNP seat with the LNP running Sam O'Connor for the seat. He stands strong favourites to win the seat. 

However, our GravisPolitics team knows that Labor are going to target Bonney and Gaven as they know that they need to pierce the 'blue walls' on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast to produce stable Labor Governments. 

Labor are running Rowan Holzberger for the seat this time. Rowan stood for Labor in the neighbouring seat of Southport in 2015. 

This is another seat where the CPV change could prove to come up trumps for Labor by gaining a seat they would not otherwise be able to get.

Prediction: Tight LNP pick-up


This is the second Gold Coast seat Labor are after in this election campaign. This seat has seen Sid Cramp (incumbent – LNP) since 2015 after he beat Labor for the LNP after Alex Douglas defected from the LNP to Palmer United Party (PUP).

PHON is not running in this seat.

In this three way on the Gold Coast we just don’t see the Labor Party getting what they need.

Prediction: LNP retain


This is one of the battleground seats from the LNP column. This is another ‘change of government’ seat that didn’t move when the government changed in 2015. Matt McEachan is the local MP who won the seat in 2015 after the ‘plonker’ scandal forced Peter Dowling out of the LNP and out of office.

The redistribution here is the epitomy of the concept that someone always has to ‘pay the piper’. The redistribution that has made Springwood stronger for the LNP has made Redlands weaker for the LNP.

The Labor Candidate here is Kim Richards from the United Voice Union and Don Brown’s faction. She was the Labor Candidate for Bowman federally and has run a reasonable on the ground campaign. However, in the course of the campaign McEachan’s on the ground game has out done Richards.

However, we would be concerned from the disclosures on the ECQ website about the cash in the LNP warchest here when run against what Labor has been able to get into the seat cash wise. McEachan though benefits from Labor having to contest in almost a third of the pendulum thanks to PHON pressing them in seats that Labor would never have to normally contest.

The curveball here is Jason Quick, the PHON Candidate here who is campaigning against Labor while preferencing them over the LNP and the return of Peter Dowling to the stage as an Independent. While we believe Dowling will be outpolled by PHON (and possibly the Greens), where that leaves PHON v LNP v ALP becomes interesting and makes this a three way.

This seat is demographically something PHON can do well in. It is not as good for them though as something like Capalaba in the region.

Prediction: Too close to call

Source: Photo off  Matt McEachan  with his recently passed Campaign Manager (and a mentor and friend to some of us here at Gravis) Bob Harper.

Source: Photo off Matt McEachan with his recently passed Campaign Manager (and a mentor and friend to some of us here at Gravis) Bob Harper.


This seat has gone under the radar from commentators but not from our team. The seat is held by Mark Bailey (Energy Minister) who has been in trouble this term for the use of private email servers and allegation of corruption. He has also held the blame for skyrocketing power prices which have now become a thorn in their side during the campaign from both Labor and PHON.

The seat is based on the former seat of Yeerongpilly which Bailey won in 2015 from the LNP.  

The LNP Candidate here is midwife and nurse, Belinda Kippen. After losing the LNP preselection for the seat of Moreton, she has impressed many in the LNP with her campaign for the seat of Miller. In a short campaign she has bought together an excellent on the ground campaign with some good fundraising to really shake Bailey up.

It was always going to take something special from the LNP to shake Miller from the Labor – Green preference flow loose. However, the campaign for the LNP here has gone well targeted and focussed in on local issues well and kept the issue of Bailey's problems alive locally.

Prediction: Too close to call

Toowoomba North

This is one of the dejavu electorates. This is the third time that the seat of Toowoomba North has seen the LNP’s Trevor Watts square off against Labor stalwart Kerry Shine for the seat. Watts lost the seat to Shine in 2009. Shine lost the seat to Watts in 2012 and 2015. This has always been the marginal seat in the region and both leaders have visited it many times.

However, the impact of PHON is being felt hard in this race. PHON wont win here. However, the decision to preference against Watts helps Shine in his campaign to win the seat back for Labor.

What will be interesting to see if any semblance of a RiteOn campaign up here gets going to neutralise the PHON HTV impact on the differential split of the preferences.

Prediction: LNP retain

LNP v PHON Competitive Races

In these seats we see a situation where PHON are competitive in LNP held seats. However, in most (if not all) of them, there is a large capacity for Labor preferences to save LNP MPs due to the policy of ‘every PHON candidate goes last’. This means that there is potential for LNP preferences to oust ALP sitting members but ALP preferences save LNP sitting members under challenge from PHON.


This is Ground Zero for the LNP v PHON fights in Queensland. In order for the LNP to have any chance of winning 47 seats in its own right. The LNP has preselected Brent Mickelberg to win the seat back from LNP defector and now State Leader of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Steve Dickson who is the incumbent. 

The LNP are pouring a lot of resources into the seat to win it back.

PHON are banking on the 'Im Sticking With Steve' campaign locally and hoping that enough LNP-leaning voters in the seat will want to punish Dickson for his defection. 

Despite a massive run on Dickson in the betting stakes, we foresee a situation where Dickson's Primary just isn't high enough.

Prediction: LNP gain

Source: Facebook page of Steve Dickson MP


This is a must win seat for PHON in this cycle. This is the seat in 2015 Pauline Hanson herself almost took out as an Independent before reuniting with the One Nation Party brand.

The PHON Candidate in the seat is long term party stalwart and former party senior official Jim Savage.

He has run a grassroots, local campaign and has been one of the better campaigners on the ground despite his apparent fallings in and out with the centre of power inside One Nation.

With a primary vote through this cycle at around the 36%+ mark. He can go on to win the seat. However, he will need a break of the Labor preferences to get him home.

This is one of those seats where the LNP primary and PHON primary aren’t specifically important. What our GravisPolitics team is looking for is the gap between first and second and whether there are enough Labor primaries to distribute to get the party coming second over whoever is coming first. In this case, it would be, can Labor get enough and can the LNP get close enough to get over the Jim Savage primary for PHON.

Prediction: PHON gain

Scenic Rim

This is a seat that PHON would see as a must win seat for them as well. This is a seat that Pauline Hanson herself contested in 2009 after the retirement of long term MP Kevin Lingard. However, her campaign self combusted when (what turned out to be fake) nude pics of her turned up on the front page of newspapers.

After the LNP MP Aidan McLindon who won the seat in 2009, defected to KAP and then lost the seat in 2012 to Jon Krause; Krause has kept his head down and run a good localised ground game to survive the 2015 carnage and then make his way into the Shadow Cabinet under Tim Nicholls.

In polling that is public and that our GravisPolitics team has done, the Labor vote has been at around the 20% mark in the seat. We would suggest that (providing Labor hand the HTVs out) the LNP should be able to survive on the distribution of Labor preferences to them.

This becomes then the quintessential seat of Labor’s HTV strategy saving an LNP MP (potentially).

Prediction: LNP retain


In this seat, we also throw into the mix the KAP Candidate for the seat John Hill. While PHON have been very late to the game here in preselecting Frank Ashman, it appears PHON have sacrificed the seat in order to raise the profile of the anti-Acland mine movement and secure the endorsement of the radio personality, Alan Jones.

John Hill has campaigned across the electorate on a range of issues where are PHON are only campaigning against the Acland Mine, which a large portion of the seat has no idea about.

Pat Weir is the sitting member for the seat for the LNP. He won the seat in 2015 after Ray Hopper defected to KAP and then switched seats to Nanango in the 2015 election and left his son to contest the Condamine seat for KAP.

KAP are handing out how to vote cards to try and attract Labor preferences to it, in spite of their preference deal with PHON.

Our GravisPolitics team simply raises the possibility of a boilover here with the CPV effect of PHON, KAP and Labor all coming together potentially against Pat Weir.

Prediction: Too Close to Call



This is the seat that has been held by Deputy LNP leader Deb Frecklington since 2012 after former PHON MP for the seat, Dolly Pratt retired after seeing off John Bjelke-Petersen a number of times for the seat.

In this seat, PHON have polled between 30-35% across this campaign cycle here. However, this is a situation where we note that we have not seen a poll where Frecklington is not behind PHON on the primary vote in any piece of public or private polling we have seen.

Prediction: LNP retain on Labor preferences


This is a seat that is fertile ground for minor parties such as KAP and PHON. Our GravisPolitics team believes it is a strategic blunder that KAP is not standing in this seat.

In 2015, the Palmer United Party (PUP) and Katters Australian Party (KAP) took 27% of the vote between them. In 2012, KAP took 21.8% of the vote.

Our GravisPolitics team would be very surprised if the seat didn’t see PHON poll a 30% primary vote.

This will be a seat where, if Tony Perrett is to be returned to Parliament he will need Labor preferences.

Prediction: LNP retain


This is a seat that has been a PHON seat before, nearly was a KAP seat in 2012 and both are running here in 2017 with a preference deal between each other.

Andrew Cripps has been the member here for over a decade after having seen a number of major challenges off in recent history.

The redistribution sees the seat lose areas north of Tully to the new seat of Hill and in return gain some northern suburbs of Townsville from Thuringowa. This has seen the nominal margin (against Labor) go from 7.1% to 3.4%.

The key to the LNP strategy for retention here is to ensure that they can attract Labor and KAP preferences to ensure they stay ahead of PHON in the preference distribution to hold the seat (despite the KAP-PHON preference deal).

Prediction: LNP retain

ALP v PHON Competitive Races

There are more races in this column than in the LNP v PHON column. This is because while the ALP has put PHON last everywhere and the PHON HTVs have every sitting MP last, the LNP has chosen a seat to seat approach.

This means that there are many more opportunities for PHON to take ALP seats on LNP preference distribution. Furthermore, this is backed up from our touch preference research. This research has clearly shown that when you ask LNP voters to chose between PHON and the ALP, between 65-85% chose PHON whereas only 35-50% of ALP voters chose PHON.


This seat and Mulgrave are in our view the two biggest sleepers in the pack for PHON to take from PHON. Firstly, it should be noted that Tabelands (some of which is now in Cook) was a PHON seat and the Mayor of Mareeba Tom Gilmore lost his seat to Rosa Lee Long the last time PHON rose to prominence. Secondly, after Labor’s Billy Gordon has had all of the scandals around him and the LNP’s Penny Johnson has run a particularly lacklustre campaign; we see that there is more then enough space for PHON’s Jen Sackley to get in between the two majors and get one of them to distribute. This is also on the back of the preference deal PHON has with the KAP’s Gordon Rasmussen.

Jen Sackley is someone who has shortened in the betting with the momentum she has picked up with her well targetted Mareeba based campaign. If she can come second, she will win.

This is in essence a three-way and our GravisPolitics team will be watching this one like a hawk to see how it breaks.

Prediction: Too Close to Call

Source:  Jen Sackley  Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Candidate for Mareeba

Source: Jen Sackley Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Candidate for Mareeba


If betting agencies offered combos, we expect that the combination bet of the Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer losing their seats in the same election would be at long odds. However, Mulgrave has been a PHON seat before. Sue Bertuch who is the PHON Candidate is running a strong campaign for a six week run and from our on the ground reports, is doing very well. The LNP has preselected Karina Samperi who is doing OK for an LNP Candidate in Mulgrave without any major financial backing for her campaign.

This is the sort of seat where if Curtis Pitt doesn’t get 48% primary (which GravisPolitics sees as unlikely) he is in trouble.

Prediction: Possible PHON gain (on LNP preferences)


No one can ignore a seat where polls showed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation at 37% of the primary vote before they even had a candidate in the field. This seat was won for Labor by Aaron Harper in 2015 from Sam Cox who is now the Deputy Leader of PHON and their Canddiate for Burdekin.

The nominal margin here is 6.6% to the Labor Party v the LNP.

PHON have had trouble here with the revelations that their candidate’s wife owns a sex shop that condoned domestic violence in a post.

Prediction: PHON gain


This is a seat that Labor has never lost since the formation of Queensland as a state. The seat has always existed and our team was at the celebrations for Labor’s 100th year anniversary of holding the seat of Mackay.

After the sudden retirement of Tim Mulherin during the 2015 election, Labor chose Julieanne Gilbert (Wife of former Councillor Frank Gilbert) to be the Candidate for Mackay. She is now the incumbent on a nominally 10.2% margin after picking up suburbs such as Glenella in the northern beaches of Mackay from the seat of Whitsunday.

However, like much of regional Queensland, Labor is in trouble to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. Our GravisPolitics team has been privy to polls where the PHON vote has been between 25-35% of the primary vote through out the course of the election cycle.

The PHON Candidate for the seat has only been a candidate since the election was called. However, if the move is on to PHON, this seat is gone on LNP preferences to PHON.

Prediction: PHON gain


This is another of the crown jewels in the Labor crown which is precisely why the city has had so much Labor infighting over the years which has now seen the party split locally and Mayor Margaret Strelow running as an Independent.

Before the split and furore over who would replace Bill Byrne in the seat, PHON had been polling here in excess of 30%, almost all of which had come from the Labor primary. However, with Strelow in the race, PHON’s vote has been split 20% to 14% (according to Galaxy).

The Labor campaign here has been an absolute calamity. Regular media mis-steps, getting policy wrong in public and the war between Schwarten and Strelow overshadowing the whole thing has meant that publicly, Brittany Lauga has had to take over the media for Rockhampton and is also likely to lose her seat of Keppel as a result.

Prediction: Too close to call


On paper this is a seat that is a marginal LNP v ALP seat that was taken by Bruce Saunders in 2015. However, this is misleading as it has PUP and former Independent Member, Chris Foley in the mix.

This is a seat that has gone to PHON before and is victim of Labor’s bad polling north of the Sunshine Coast.

This is another one of the places where the combination of the PHON preference strategy of placing every sitting member last and the LNP preferencing PHON in the seat.

The ALP incumbent in Maryborough is Bruce Saunders who won the seat in 2015 from Anne Madden who was the one term LNP MP for the seat.

Prediction: PHON gain

Ipswich West

This is another of the former seats that were in the PHON column after the 1998 election. However, with the advent of former Senator Malcolm Roberts as the PHON Candidate for Ipswich means that this seat has gone under the radar for many commentators.

The polls have seen Labor neck and neck in the seat over the last few weeks.

This means the volume and distribution of Green and LNP Preferences will determine the winner of the seat.

The sitting MP is Jim Madden who was a Somerset Councillor before defeating Sean Choat for the seat in 2015, who in 2016 then became a Somerset Councillor.

Prediction: If any PHON gains are to be in Ipswich, it will be here.


This seat is going to be an old fashioned grudge match between former Senator Malcolm Roberts and Labor stalwart Jennifer Howard. Howard won the seat in 2015 from the LNP in the route of the LNP in that election.

Howard was a staffer for former MP for Ipswich and former Transport Minister Rachel Nolan. Howard is seen as a much better performer locally then Nolan was and she has ramped up her campaign to deal with the Roberts threat in a major way.

However, the Premier has not helped the campaign with her promise to move rail jobs from Wulkuraka to Maryborough to sure up Maryborough against PHON.

Roberts, however, has been dogged with stories around his relationship with former staffer Sean Black and the criminal charges he is facing.

Prediction: Labor retain


This is a key seat for Labor to test whether they can rebel PHON threats in the South East. Linus Power won this seat in 2015 on the second attempt after defeating Michael Pucci who is now the PHON State Director and the PHON Candidate for the new seat of Jordan.

However, the redistribution has weakened the seat for Labor structurally. Starting the redistribution process with a 10% margin, the redistribution sees the nominal margin reduced to 5.4% against the LNP. This is because the seat has lost the urban parts of Logan City to Algester and Woodridge while it has headed west into the western Logan City Council border with Scenic Rim which brings Jimboomba into the seat.

The PHON Candidate is Scott Bannan.  Bannan has defending himself against charges of being a Hell’s Angel in the past with aplomb. This has made the Power campaign anxious as he seems bullet proof.

Power will be helped by the LNP decision to preference Labor ahead of PHON. This means that if Labor can get a primary vote gap on PHON of any substance, there will be a lower percentage of LNP preferences that PHON can receive.

Prediction: Too close to call and amazingly firming to PHON in final week

Source: Original file image of the Scott Bannan Coaster printed by our team.

Source: Original file image of the Scott Bannan Coaster printed by our team.


This is a seat that no one has focussed on in this campaign because it is a traditionally Labor seat. This is a seat that has only been held by the LNP in 2012. For the rest of its life it has been a Labor seat. The seat was won by Don Brown in 2015 from the LNP after the 2015 election loss.

Don has had a major campaign put against him by the LNP, Andrew Laming and PHON in this seat.

Ever since our first poll in the seat in February, the polling has been tight here with the seat consistently polling from all of our sources at around the 30-30-30 split.

This will all come down to the order of the primary vote on the night as to who wins here.

If the LNP come third, PHON wins. If ALP comes third, LNP wins. If PHON comes third, its anyone’s race. The majority of PHON’s primary here is coming from the Labor Party but there is a preference swap neatly between the LNP and PHON in the seat.

Our team believes that Labor will lose this seat but are unsure as to who will pick it up considering the overall structure of the polling between all three parties being so close.

Prediction: Too Close to Call

Seat to Seat Prediction List 

While not everyone will agree with this list (there have been some disagreements in the team) there are many people who will think we are being too bullish, too aggressive and possibly with a bit of wishful thinking. However, this is our best lay of the land as we believe it will wind up.

  • Algester - Labor
  • Aspley - LNP 
  • Bancroft - Labor
  • Barron River - LNP gain 
  • Bonney - Too Close to Call 
  • Broadwater - LNP gain 
  • Buderim - LNP gain (from PHON)
  • Bulimba - Labor retain 
  • Bundaberg - LNP gain 
  • Bundamba - Labor retain 
  • Burdekin - Too Close to Call
  • Burleigh - LNP retain 
  • Burnett - LNP retain 
  • Cairns - Labor Gain (from IND)
  • Callide - LNP retain
  • Caloundra - LNP retain
  • Capalaba - Too Close to Call (Unsure who Labor lose this too)
  • Chatsworth - LNP retain 
  • Clayfield - LNP retain 
  • Condamine - Too Close to Call 
  • Cook - Too Close to Call
  • Coomera - LNP retain 
  • Cooper - Labor retain 
  • Currumbin - LNP retain 
  • Everton - Too Close to Call
  • Ferny Grove - Labor retain 
  • Gaven - Too Close to Call 
  • Gladstone - PHON gain 
  • Glass House - LNP retain 
  • Greenslopes - Labor retain 
  • Gregory - LNP retain 
  • Gympie - LNP retain 
  • Hervey Bay - Should be LNP retain 
  • Hill - KAP gain (new seat)
  • Hinchinbrook - Too Close to Call
  • Inala - Labor retain 
  • Ipswich - Labor retain 
  • Ipswich West - PHON gain 
  • Jordan - Labor gain 
  • Kawana - LNP retain 
  • Keppel - LNP gain
  • Kurwongbah - Labor retain 
  • Lockyer - PHON gain
  • Logan - Too Close to Call
  • Lytton - ALP retain 
  • Macalister - Probably Labor Gain 
  • McConnel - Labor retain 
  • Mackay - PHON gain 
  • Maiwar - Labor gain
  • Mansfield - Labor gain 
  • Maroochydore - LNP retain 
  • Maryborough - PHON gain 
  • Mermaid Beach - LNP retain
  • Miller - Too Close to Call 
  • Mirani - LNP gain 
  • Moggill - LNP retain 
  • Morayfield - ALP retain
  • Mt Ommaney - Too Close to Call
  • Mudgeeraba - LNP retain
  • Mulgrave - Too Close to Call 
  • Mundingburra - LNP gain 
  • Murrumba - ALP retain 
  • Nanango - LNP retain 
  • Nicklin - LNP gain (LNP v PHON 2PP)
  • Ninderry - LNP gain (LNP v PHON 2PP)
  • Noosa - Too Close to Call (LNP v Ind)
  • Nudgee - ALP retain
  • Oodgeroo - LNP retain 
  • Pine Rivers - ALP retain
  • Pumicestone - LNP gain 
  • Redcliffe - ALP retain 
  • Redlands - Too Close to Call 
  • Rockhampton - Too Close to Call
  • Sandgate - ALP retain
  • Scenic Rim - LNP retain 
  • Sth Brisbane - Green gain 
  • Southern Downs - LNP retain 
  • Southport - LNP retain
  • Springwood - LNP gain 
  • Stafford - ALP retain
  • Stretton - ALP retain
  • Surfers Paradise - LNP retain 
  • Theodore - LNP retain 
  • Thuringowa - PHON gain 
  • Toohey - ALP gain 
  • Toowoomba North - Too Close to Call
  • Toowoomba South - LNP retain
  • Townsville - LNP gain 
  • Traeger - KAP retain
  • Warrego - LNP retain 
  • Waterford - ALP retain 
  • Whitsunday - Too Close to Call
  • Woodridge - ALP retain

New Zealand Government Update

After one of the strangest elections in New Zealand history, New Zealand finally has a government. Labour's Jacinda Ardern has been crowned New Zealand Prime Minister by Winston Peters and New Zealand First. 

Through this, we will go through the structure, the policy information we have and what the implications are for National. 


The Government will be a Labour - NZ First government that has a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party. This is not a Labour - NZ First - Green government as many commentators are stating. There is a Labour - NZ First Coalition agreement which is looking to give Winston Peters the Deputy Prime Minister job (the same job he held under National under Jim Bolger). New Zealand First will get four ministerial positions (it is unclear if this includes Winston or is including Winston) and one Parliamentary Undersecretary. 

The Ministries that New Zealand First will get are:

• Foreign Affairs
• Infrastructure
• Regional Economic Development
• Internal Affairs
• Seniors
• Defence
• Veterans' Affairs
• Children
• Forestry
• State Owned Enterprises
• Racing
• Associate Finance
• Associate Education and an Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Regional Economic Development

The Greens have a confidence and supply agreement with Labour. This government represents the first time that the Green Party have had Ministers, even if they are outside the cabinet. 

The Ministries that the Greens will get are: Climate Change, Associate Finance, Conservation, Women, Land Information New Zealand, Associate Environment, Statistics, Associate Transport, Associate Health and an Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence).

Prime Minister - designate Ardern has dismissed the fact Climate Change as a minsitry is outside the government as something she can do as she doesn't need convincing on the subject.

The full roll out of Ministries will happen at the swearing in ceremony later this week. 

Considering the Labour gains from the Maori Party, the Maori Development portfolio is one that is promoting a lot of speculation as to who will receive that portfolio. This considering that Deputy Labour Leader, Kelvin Davis is likely to pick up Corrections as one of his portfolios in the government. 

Today the Labour - NZ First agreement and the Labour - Green agreements were both signed. 

Here are the substantive policies inside the agreements:

• Regional development: A $1 billion per year Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund

• Rail: Significant investment in regional rail.

• Forestry: Re-establish the New Zealand Forestry Service, and planting 100 million trees per year in a Billion Trees Planting Programme.

• Auckland Port: Commissioning a feasibility study on moving the Ports of Auckland to Northport

• Biosecurity: A funding increase to Biosecurity NZ and a select committee Inquiry into biosecurity

• Irrigation: Honour existing Crown Irrigation investment commitments

• Monetary policy: Review and reform the Reserve Bank Act

• Minimum wage: Increase to $20 an hour by 2020, with the final increase to take effect in April 2021

• Tax: Increase penalties for corporate fraud and tax evasion, and introduce a tax on exports of bottled water

• KiwiBank: Investigate KiwiBank's capabilities to become the Government's banker when that contract is next renewed.

• Foreign ownership: Strengthen the Overseas Investment Act and create a comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing

• Research and development: Increase R&D spending to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years

• Health: Re-establish the Mental Health Commission, annual free health checks for seniors with the SuperGold card, free doctors' visits for all under 14s, increasing the age for free breast screening to 74

• Education: Restore funding for gifted students and Computers in Homes, pilot counsellors in primary schools, free driver training for all secondary school students, restart Te Kotahitanga teacher professional development

• Defence: Re-examine the Defence procurement programme

• Housing: Establish a Housing Commission

• Law and Order: Work towards 1800 new police officers over three years, investigate a volunteer rural constabulary programme, increase funding for Community Law Centres, establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission

• Social Development: More funding for family violence networks, including Women's Refuge and Shakti, pilot a Youth Education, Training and Employment programme and provide 800 extra places for the LSV scheme, introduce Ready for Work programmes

• Superannuation: Keep age of eligibility at 65

• Environment: Move to an emissions-free government-vehicle fleet by 2025/26, introduce a Zero Carbon Act and independent Climate Commission, which will consider including agriculture into the ETS, establish a tyre stewardship fund, piloting alternatives to 1080, work towards a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

• Conservation: More funding for the Department of Conservation

• Democracy: No new parliamentary building this term, an independent review of electoral processes and enrolments, and a review of the parliamentary processes, and pass a 'Waka Jumping' bill

• Immigration: Ensure work visas reflect skills shortages and cut down on low quality international education courses, and take action on migrant exploitation, particularly international students

• Pike River: Commit to re-entry to Pike River

• Other: Build a Maori Battalion museum at Waitangi, review retail-power pricing, allow a conscience vote on a NZ First euthanasia referendum bill, a Public Inquiry "a decade after Shand" to investigate the drivers of local government costs, support NZ First's racing policy, work towards a Free Trade Agreement with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government sponsorship of UNSC2334, concerning the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

The New Zealand Green Party and Labour have a separate confidence and supply agreement which has a number of policy concessions in them in return. These include:

• Climate Change: Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission (which will also look at transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035), analyse all new legislation for climate impact, establish a Climate Change board of public sector CEOs and a set of indicators for environmental, social and economic sustainability

• Transport: Investigate a Green Transport Card to reduce the cost of public transport for low-income people and welfare recipients, prioritise National Land Transport Fund towards rail infrastructure as well as cycling and walking, cancel Auckland's East-West motorway link, work towards light rail from Auckland city to airport

• Green economy: Government-backed Green Investment Fund of $100 million to stimulate up to $1 billion of new investment in low carbon industries by 2020, assist agricultural sector to reduce biological emissions and improve water quality

• Environment: Increasing conservation funding and predator control, commit to minimising waste to landfill by reducing all waste classes by 2020

• Rivers and lakes: Stronger regulation to clean up waterways, fund freshwater enhancement, wind down Government support for irrigation, better enforcement of the Resource Management Act

• Ocean Sanctuaries: Work with Maori to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary as well as a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary

• Welfare: Ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions, review Working for Families, provide safe sleeping environments for vulnerable families

• Health: Free counselling for under-25s, increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services, referendum on the personal use of cannabis by the 2020 election

• Education: Ensure children with special needs and learning disabilities can fully participate in school

• Pay equality: Eliminate the gender pay gap within the core public sector

• Homes: A rent-to-own scheme will be part of Labour's Kiwibuild programme, increase in the number of homes insulated

• Refugees: Adequately fund and support family re-unification for refugees


German Coalition Formation

After a long and impressive 12 year run at national helm, Angela Merkel’s center right CDU/CSU hit a snag last month, when the results of national elections were televised. The polls revealed a downturn in CDU/CSU performance compared to 2013 – indicating the party wouldn’t be able to attain absolute majority in the Bundestag, the national parliament. That, coupled with the rise of far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has caused palpable unease among Merkel’s cohort.
But the frenzy of elections has blown over and the focus among leading parties has now shifted to seeking out possible coalition partners. A possible ‘Jamaican Coalition’ (a partnership of CDU/CSU, FDU, and Greens), that would entail FDP and Greens entering torturous political negotiations with Merkel’s conservative block, is among the most likely scenarios  and has thus been a subject of post-election analysis. 

The three parties of so called ‘Jamaican coalition’ have previously never come together for coalition at the center – only governing the state of Saarland together during 2009-2012. Currently, they face disagreements over a range of issues like volume of migrant inflow, tax structure, environment policies, and EU reform. Accordingly, the proscribed coalition contract between the three that sets out policy and legislative priorities for upcoming government is expected be quite detailed and lengthy.

It should be noted that at the Federal level, the FDP will be expected to join a Merkel Government if given the option. The Green Party has never joined a government at the Federal level that has not been lead by the SPD. 

Though Christian Lindner’s FDP and Merkel’s CDU/CSU share similar socioeconomic outlook and together form the Germany's center-right coalition that has governed the country at a federal level for the most part since independence, they’ve their share of nuanced differences over more than a few issues. Most notably, FDP’s recognition of Germany as a cosmopolitan society and and its embrace of immigration, a focus on entrepreneurship promotion, increased liberalization of economy, and critique of expansive welfare system form the key points of contention between the two. For its part, thus, the FDP is expected to respond cautiously to Merkel’s alliance overtures as its checkered political history with Kohl led CDU during the 1990s – during which it won between 6.2 and 11 percent of the vote in Bundestag elections – will serve to deter Lindner from embracing centrist conservatives and re-experiencing the electoral embarrassments of the past. The 1998 federal elections in which the CDU/CSU - FDP coalition lost, the FDP's nearly 30-year presence in government coalition came to a rather unceremonious end and marked a major setback in party’s history.

For Greens though, the core issue remains to be environment and climate change. While the FDP stands for market liberalization, the Greens advocate a strong welfare state, government investments and strict quotas for more environmentally conscious policies. Also, as the FDP calls for greater German investment in international security, the Greens argue for more spending to curb unemployment among European youth and improving education. On Europe, unlike CDU and FDP, the Greens oppose giving Frontex, Europe’s border control agency, more power and disagree with CDU and FDP on the idea that Germany ought to do more for its debt-stricken neighbors. Their manifesto instead proposes a Green New Deal for Europe to do away with austerity, investment in a circular economy, and digitalization of Europe. Another aspect of the possible Jamaican Coalition is the diverging views on immigration between the leftist greens and CDU’s populist Bavarian sister, CSU. It is therefore not far-fetched to say that under present circumstances, the possibilities of two coming together in a coalition are slim.

This is a Coalition formation that has never been tried in Germany. It will require calm and cool negotiations to ensure that the trade-offs to form the Coalition are brought together to deliver Germany the stable government required. 

We do not believe another Grand Coalition is in the SPD's interests after going through another election with a falling vote share after another term in the 'grand' coalition. Most in the SPD see Opposition and the best way forward and to allow the 'Jamaica' option to be pursued in order to ensure the AfD is not the official Opposition.

The SPD and the Greens say that they would put any coalition deals to a vote of their members, raising the risk of new elections, given the strong grassroots resistance in both parties to a pact with Merkel. We would rate the chances of a new election at 10-15% in reality as our team and people on the ground know that the party who forces the new election will be the losers in it. 


German Election Analysis

The results of German general polls have been announced. To expectations of many political pundits and commentators, Angela Merkel led center-right CDU/CSU has clinched a majority with almost 33% of total votes – a figure that is slated to hand her 218 seats in Bundestag. The Social democrats, or SPD, helmed by Martin Schulz, is trailing second with just over 20% votes and is projected to command 138 seats in the house.

The most interesting aspect of the poll however is the rise of AfD, a far-right, anti-immigration party, which had previously struggled to enter mainstream politics. It emerged as the largest party in the house by claiming a significant 13.5% of the vote – a proportion that will land it 87 seats. This shift marks the first time a far-right party has been able to make its way to Bundestag in last six decades and spells a change of tone in nation’s future parliamentary discourse.

Shortly after the results were made public, Schulz confirmed statements by other senior party members that the SPD would not reenter into a coalition with the CDU/CSU but opt for opposition.

With SPD out of the possible governing coalition, that leaves Merkel with the pro-business Free Democratic Party or FDP and the Greens as potential partners. They have scored 10% and 9% of votes respectively and together with CSU, form the most likely ruling trio. It’s a coalition that’s widely been dubbed as the Jamaican coalition after the three parties’ respective black, green, and yellow flags – the same colors that fashion Jamaican national flag.

It’s worth mentioning that while this coalition has worked at state level, it hasn’t been tried over national stage before – a reality that analysts predict will necessitate complex negotiations before any mutually agreeable arrangement can be reached. Merkel’s conservative party is itself divided in two camps, her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union which is headed by Horst Seehofer. The two wings began to diverge few years ago and are increasingly taking on distinct political identities. Meaning that the sought after alliance, in another sense, would comprise four separate parties with sometimes nuanced but mostly disparate outlooks.

The Greens, a party born out of the 1968 social revolution is also split into two camps - leftist ("Fundis") and the more pragmatic centrists ("Realos") and will be sending two delegations for negotiations.  The business friendly FDP would be wary of putting itself through the same predicament that it had to face after forming a coalition with Merkel in 2009. The party, according to reports, will be pushing for the seat of finance minister in any likely coalition – a demand that will require Merkel to swap her finance minister and long term aide Wolfgang Schäuble to some other role.

In any case, the results of recent poll have created an interesting and complex political ground in Bundestag in which the traditionally dominant CSU/CDU stands at its lowest parliamentary strength in decades. This electoral equation will lead to a tough and drawn-out negotiations between prospective ruling partners and require conservative CDU/CSU to make uneasy compromises if it wished to reelect Angela Merkel as national chancellor for the 4th consecutive term.

Kenyan Election Cancelled

On September 1st 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya gave its verdict on the petition filed by the NASA Coalition Presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, disputing the declared results of the August 8th presidential elections. 

The six judges, led by Chief Justice David Maraga, ruled by 4 votes to 2 that the elections were not properly conducted and that the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner was invalid, null and void. 

CJ Maraga noted in the summarised ruling that elections are a process, and not an event, and that the election process had been marred by irregularities and illegalities. 

The court ruled that the IEBC “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution” and applicable laws.

The court declared that the IEBC committed irregularities and illegalities in, among other things, the transmission of results.

The court also found that these irregularities and illegalities affected the integrity of the entire Presidential Election.

The court ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh elections in strict compliance with applicable laws, within 60 days as provided for in the Constitution.

The ruling shocked most of the country. This is the first time in Africa that a court has nullified the re-election of a sitting President. 

Raila Odinga and NASA supporters were delighted. 

President Kenyatta gave an official statement that though he disagreed with the ruling, he would respect it. However, speaking at various rallies afterwards, the President said that CJ Maraga and his ‘wakora’ (thugs or crooks) had nullified his re-election. He and other Jubilee supporters accused the Supreme Court judges of overturning the will of the people, of colluding with the NASA coalition and also of staging a judicial coup. The President and his Deputy – Mr William Ruto – said they would deal with the Judiciary and they would revisit the matter after the fresh elections. Jubilee repeatedly said that the Court should have ordered a recount of the ballots instead of calling for fresh elections.

Mr Odinga and the NASA coalition demanded that the IEBC, that the court stated had not conducted the elections properly, should be reconstituted before the new elections. NASA named specific officials that they said should be removed from the Commission. Jubilee responded that if the IEBC officials are removed, then the Supreme Court judges would be removed too (though this is not a simple process).

The IEBC Chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, invited the Director of Public Prosecution to investigate IEBC staff and prosecute those found to have possibly been engaged in wrongdoing.

On Thursday 14th September, newly-elected Nyeri Town Member of Parliament,  Ngunjiri Wambugu filed a petition with the Judicial Service Commission seeking to remove Chief Justice David Maraga from office. Ngunjiri says that Maraga exercised a judicial coup by annulling the presidential election. He claimed that the CJ exerted undue pressure on the rest of the judges to make the judgement that they did. 

The MP later withdrew the petition, saying that the political climate did not favour it. It was reported that President Kenyatta asked him to withdraw it.

On Monday 18th September, another petitioner – Mr Derrick Ngumu, who describes himself as the Executive Director of Angaza Empowerment Network, filed a petition seeking the removal of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola for alleged gross misconduct. The two judges are among the four who voted to nullify the presidential election.
Mr Ngumu accused the judges of breaching the Judicial Service Commission code of conduct during proceedings for NASA's presidential election petition, by meeting NASA leaders to discuss the case as it was going on.

On the whole, Jubilee supporters seem to feel that the Supreme Court was wrong to ‘overturn the will of the people’ and that the judges who voted for the annulment were compromised.

NASA supporters, on the other hand, believe that the Supreme Court vindicated their position that the poll was rigged. 

It is noteworthy that during the hearing of the petition, the Supreme Court ordered the IEBC to allow the parties to the case and the court itself access to the server to examine its contents. IEBC complied only partially with this order of the court. This has solidified the view that the IEBC has some damning information within its servers that it is keen to hide.

After much talk by Jubilee leaders against the Supreme Court and it’s judges, the Chief Justice read a statement on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission, condemning the attacks on the Judiciary and stating that the Judiciary would not allow anyone to dictate to it how to discharge its mandate. He said “if leaders are tired of having a strong and independent judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether.”

He called upon Kenyans of goodwill to stand up for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. “On our part, we are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.”

New Zealand Election: Final Update

With New Zealand heading to the polls after what has been one of the more tumultuous campaigns since the advent of the MMP voting system; New Zealanders go to the polls. 

The basic tenants of tomorrow in our analysis go like this:

  1. The current governing arrangement (National - United Future - Act - Maori Party) will not be returned, despite this being Bill English's preferred option.
  2. The Labour-Green alliance under the Memorandum of Understanding is unlikely to be able to govern in its own right. 

United Future will lose its place in Parliament after Peter Dunne announced he was retiring as the MP for Ohariu and United Future not polling at the 5% threshold to get a List MP elected.

Whether or not Hone Harawira and his Mana Party can get elected in Tai Tokerau on the back of the 2 for 1 campaign he is running and whether or not the Maori Party can get 2 MPs back into Parliament will be critical in the dream scenario of the left where they can govern with a Labour-Green - Maori - Mana block. 

The fact remains: It is most likely that Winston Peters and his New Zealand First Party will become the King or Queenmaker to form the next Government of New Zealand. 

Winston Peters has governed with both National and Labour previously. He served as Deputy Prime Minister to Jim Bolger and Foreign Minister to Helen Clark in her third government. 

Winston Peters has already stated that he will not enter into a government with the Green Party. 

This means that the likely situations for the next government are:

  1. National - NZ First
  2. New Zealand First- Labour (with Greens in a Supply Agreement)
  3. Labour - Green - Maori - Mana

This is how we see the most likely scenarios, however, picking the combination from an MMP election is always difficult and predicting the results of negotiations to happen on a hypothetical equation of the Parliament is even more fraught.

Our team will be tweeting tomorrow night as the results come in 

New Zealand Election Update

New Zealand elections are conducted using the MMP voting system - Mixed Member Proportional. Its defining characteristics are a mix of MPs from single-member electorates and those elected from a party list, and a Parliament in which a party's share of the seats roughly mirrors its share of the overall nationwide party vote.

It is a proportional system, which means that the proportion of votes a party gets will largely reflect the number of seats it has in Parliament.

Each voter gets two votes.

The first vote is for the political party the voter chooses. This is called the party vote and largely decides the total number of seats each political party gets in Parliament.

The second vote is to choose the MP the voter wants to represent the electorate they live in. This is called the electorate vote. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. They do not have to get more than half the votes.

Under current MMP rules, a political party that wins at least one electorate seat OR 5% of the party vote gets a share of the seats in Parliament that is about the same as its share of the party vote.

For example, if a party gets 30% of the party vote it will get roughly 36 MPs in Parliament (being 30% of 120 seats). So if that party wins 20 electorate seats it will have 16 List MPs in addition to its 20 Electorate MPs.

Coalitions or agreements between political parties are usually needed before Governments can be formed.

Going into this election, National governs with the Support of United Future and its MP for Ōhāriu, Peter Dunne, Maori Party and their MPs and Co-Leaders Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiakiri and Marama Fox who was elected as a List MP and is the Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and David Seymour from ACT who is the MP for Epsom. 

This election comes on the back of some major changes in New Zealand politics. Firstly, with the mid-term resignation of John Key and the ascension of Bill English to the top job. In this election, he seeks a mandate in his own right. Secondly, we see the mid-campaign resignation of Opposition Leader Andrew Little and the ascension of his Deputy Jacinda Ardern. Her rise to the leadership with Kelvin Davis as her Deputy Leader has given the Labour campaign a new momentum and energy that Labour has not seen since the election defeat of Helen Clark.

This has seen Labour's poll numbers rise to 32.5% according to Roy Morgan, 37% according to UMR and 33.1% (Reid Research). While UMR traditionally has a Labour bias, all three polls show National falling but Labour making most of its gains from the Green Party who have seen support fall since the resignation of one of its Co-Leaders, Metiria Turei.

At the last election, National achieved its best result under MMP, winning 60 seats and Labour had its worst election ever. The Labour Party’s share of the vote in 2014 (25.1%) is the lowest it has achieved in any MMP election to date; it is also the lowest share for the Labour Party in any election since 1922 when its 23.7% vote share was third-highest behind the Liberal and Conservative parties.

There are 25 MPs who have self-identified as being of Māori descent or 21% of the total Parliament; there are a record eight MPs who identify as being of Pacific Peoples ethnicity, or 7% of the Parliament; there are five MPs who identify as being of Asian ethnicity, 4% of the Parliament.

Our analysis of recent NZ wide polling is that either National or Labour would need the votes of New Zealand First and Winston Peters to govern.

Newshub-Reid Research poll has New Zealand First at 9.2% and third in the party standings. This poll has neither the Greens-Labour Coalition and the National-ACT-United Future Coalition couldn't govern without New Zealand First. 

According to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll the Green Party could be out of Parliament as a result of the Labour new leader's popularity and the fall-out from Metiria Turei's resignation. The Greens have dropped 11 percentage points to 4 percent, according to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll - its worst result in the poll since 2009. In this poll, New Zealand First polls at 10%.

With United Future Leader, Peter Dunne resigning from Parliament as the MP for Ohariu; this leaves National in a dangerous position of not having enough support party MPs without Winston Peters.

It should be noted that in neither poll, National polls over the 45% 'firewall' it needs to be sure of its majority against the Labour-Greens Coalition.

What we are seeing in New Zealand with the rise of Ardern is similar to what we saw in the United Kingdom, the condensing of the vote around the major parties as voters sure up their major party and move away from 'split' voting, which is normally voting differently between the electorate vote and the party vote. 

Therefore, with an election on September 23; people should be watching for the following:

  • How high can the 'Jacinda Effect' take Labour?
  • Can the Greens recover? 
  • Can the National vote get above 45%

We also say to people to watch the debates. John Key was an excellent debator and gained momentum from the debates. Right now the momentum is certainly with Ardern and with Bill English moving to centre his campaign on spending commitments to arrest the momentum back from Labour, the debates will be key. 

SA No Confidence: Where to from here?

Tuesday 8th August 2017 is a day that will go down in history in the young democracy of South Africa.  A vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma as president of the country was allowed to be cast in private and the result was closer than expected and whether this or the fact thevote was in private was most surprising is still open for debate.

However, what was the vote of no confidence really for?  Was the only the fact that South Africans and a growing number of MPs were unhappy about the way Jacob Zuma was running the country? The fact is that the vote of no confidence was a vote of no confidence in many areas of the turbulent and sometimes violent world of South African Politics.

The opposition lost the vote, one cannot truly say that Jacob Zuma won because a number of his own party members turned their backs on him and did not tow the party line. The vote demonstrated a healthy democracy but also highlighted the fact that some MPs and Ministers are so “captured” that it is a case of better the devil you know than to lose a job with good pay given as a reward for loyalty to one man and a family.

The anger towards those who voted to remove the beloved leader is, in the days after the vote, is beginning to surface. The ANC is a divided party, the tripartite alliance is under more strain the than ever before but the weakness or fear of those such as the SA Communist party who have been outspoken about Mr Zuma has become blatantly obvious. Inside ANC structures there is turmoil, vows to oust out or seek revenge against the twenty something ANC members who broke rank is starting to surface, this despite the vote being secret. The ANC, for these members has become a power hungry monster that has lost the moral high ground serving the few not the many like something from an Orwellian Animal Farm nighmare.

Opposition parties have concluded that while the vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma may have been a win for the president is it a loss for a dying or maybe even now dead ANC. The broken and divided ANC along with its alliance partners is fighting for its life, clambering to find its identity. This leads to desperate measures and the prospect of impossible to honour promises in the run up to the 2019 elections.

A lot of trust in the ANC has been lost; the once loved struggle party is losing its lustre in an ever more educated and now less trusting citizenship of its country. The debate who should be the next ANC party leader is not an easy one and ames put forward are names that are popular only in certain enclaves of the party showing not just a divide but multiple, perhaps fatal, fractures. 

Cyril Ramaphosa, the struggle icon, wealthy businessman and trade unionist missed a golden opportunity to stand up for what is right in the no confidence vote and in the eyes of the people has lost some favour. He had the chance to do what the people wanted and didn’t choosing to stand by his party not his country.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of Jacob Zuma, could be the first woman president of South Africa. The very fact she is or was related to Jacob Zuma is perhaps a bridge to far for South African Voters and many are asking, “What has she really done?” The family ties to corruption are just too strong for many voters to think about with the name sending shivers down the spines of people throughout the country.

Other names in the hat include Former ANC Treasurer-General Matthews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, current ANC Treasurer-General and ANC National Chairperson and Speaker of the house Baleka Mbete.

Every single name has in some way been tainted with the same brush that has painted the ANC corrupt, incompetent and untrusted, each has had a chance to stand up and be the change but are either captured, afraid or just weak. This says a lot about the ANC, it shows how people get to where they are. It shows how favour and loyalty to a man or promise rather than being wiling and competent to perform and serve their country has become the norm, shedding light on a once glorious ANC that people had hope in that now shows how a few have benefitted over the many.

The successes of the ANC in improved education and placing some business in black hands have perhaps become the things that ultimately destroy the party, voting them out of power or barely hanging in there in some form of delicate coalition. Better-educated people, people who have waited too long for broken promises and the very fact that opposition parties have made massive changes in a number of major metros they won in local elections, mean the ANC is exposed. The Gupta emails, evidence of mass corruption and in recent days the stance on a senior minister accused of assaulting two women in a nightclub have shown the true colours of the current party.  These true colours clearly show how the party has become a dark, untrusted and distant shadow of the party that once fought and won the fight for freedom two decades ago.

Where can South Africa go? Who will win the next election?  It is difficult to say, party politics can get dirty and the ANC has its back to the wall. What is known is that the people of SA are unhappy and that can only mean two things, a low voter turnout that would favour the ANC or change of political direction that leads to unchartered territory. 

Kenyan Election Update: Extra Ballots

Thirdway Party Presidential candidate, Dr. Ekuru Aukot, accompanied by his running mate, Emmanuel Nzia, addressed the media at Ridgeways Baptist Church, Kiambu County on Sunday 30th of July 2017. The candidate accused the IEBC of printing extra ballot papers beyond the 1% contingency provision made for spoilt votes. 

Dr. Aukot added that the 5.7% extra ballots should be a cause for concern. 

"IEBC must now turn its attention to the KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Elections Management System) to ensure that voting is credible. Used, unused and spoilt ballot papers must be reconciled properly and results tallied transparently and transmitted without any hitches," he said. 

The electoral commission said the one per cent additional ballot papers were meant to cater for ballots that were reported as spoilt before they are cast. The commission explained that the ballot papers are bound in booklets, each booklet having 50 papers, hence the commission's decision to round off the number to 50. 

The IEBC communication manager, Andrew Limo said that for uniformity purposes, the commission had to round off to 50 because there was no way to print unmatched numbers for different counties. 

Via Twitter on Saturday, the electoral agency said they had printed 416,360 booklets of 50 ballot papers each, thus totalling 20,818,000 papers. This is to cater for 19,687,563 registered voters, meaning there is an extra 1,130,437 papers.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders on Monday 31st July claimed that the printing of additional papers could be another plan to rig the General Election. 

The Orange Democratic Movement's National Chairman, John Mbadi, the Secretary General, Agnes Zani, and the Wiper Vice Chairman, Mutula Kilonzo Jr, asked the IEBC to explain the extra ballot papers and warned that this could affect the credibility of the polls. 
"Does this then mean ballots for the other positions will not be spoilt? Why only the extra for the presidential (ballot papers)?" asked Dr Zani. She faulted the electoral body for not involving all stakeholders before deciding to print extra ballot papers. 

The electoral commission on that Monday released a document detailing the packaging of the presidential ballot papers. The document lists each of the 290 constituencies, their respective total number of registered voters, and number of ballot papers to be delivered. It further detailed the number of ballot booklets to be delivered to all the polling stations spread across the country and how the commission reached the rounded off figures.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe said the ballot papers and result forms have been customised for each polling station, making it impossible to use those not meant for a particular polling station.

Kenyan Election Update: Ballot Paper Dispute

On Friday, July 7th 2017, the High Court nullified the tender for the printing of presidential ballot papers for the August 8, 2017 presidential election to, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench hearing a judicial review filed by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct adequate public participation in the tender process, a move that they said goes against constitutional requirements. Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.

The court ordered the IEBC to commence the procurement process afresh.

NASA had also argued that President Uhuru Kenyatta has a relationship with Al Ghurair, which  influenced the award of the tender to the firm. The court ruled that the evidence provided to support this claim fell short of the evidentiary standard required to prove it.

High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga and John Mativo found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections.

In response to the court ruling, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the Judiciary against what he considered a plan to frustrate the IEBC in order not to conduct the General Election on August 8th.

The President said Kenyans would not accept any attempt to postpone the polls from the date specified in the Constitution.

Speaking at a rally in Baringo County on Sunday, 9th July, President Kenyatta said the Judiciary should not take them for fools for being silent as the courts make decisions that could lead to the postponement of the elections.

(On NTV's talk show 'Press Pass' the next day, commentator Patrick Gathara pointed out that the 2013 General Elections were not held on the day specified in the Constitution, but on a day set by IEBC following a court ruling.)

"I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools.
We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC," said the President.

The President said it was strange that the IEBC had been allowed to go ahead with printing ballot papers for other elective positions but not for the president.

Chief Justice David Maraga, in his Twitter handle on the same day, termed the President's accusations as unfortunate.

"I would not ordinarily respond to statements made by politicians in the course of campaign activities, but these accusations are particularly unfortunate, based that they are on completely wrong premises."

The CJ said that he had at no time asked the IEBC not to proceed with the printing of ballot papers, contrary to statements by Deputy President William Ruto in Baringo on that Sunday.

"The comments I made in Mombasa and elsewhere, which were either deliberately or inadvertently taken out of context, were in reference to the courts' efforts to expeditiously clear the numerous petitions arising from the party primaries in order not to inconvenience the printing of ballot papers," said Maraga.

He added: " I have always been at the forefront of defending the cardinal principle of decisional independence of judges, and at no time have I ever directed any judge or judicial officer on how to determine the cases before them."

On Monday 10th July, Jubilee Party leaders accused judges who handled the tender case of conflict of interest.

The Jubilee leaders said that Judge Odunga’s wife is Siaya Senator James Orengo’s niece while Judge Ouko is related to NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga's wife, Ida.

Speaking at the party’s headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, the leaders led by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that Judges George Odunga and William Ouko should have recused themselves due to conflict of interest.

The IEBC appealed the High Court decision on the ballot paper printing tender, arguing that the judges erred in finding that public participation is a mandatory precondition to direct procurement conducted as provided under the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act. 

On Thursday, the 20th of July, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgement and allowed the IEBC to proceed with the printing. 

The Court of Appeal said the High Court decision did not take into consideration the constitutional timelines within which General Election must be held. The five-bench judge also ruled that public participation is not a requirement in direct procurement, which was the procedure used by the IEBC in awarding the contract to Al Ghurair. 

The appellate judges did, however, agree with the High Court that newspaper cuttings are insufficient proof of a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Al Ghurair bosses and that such a meeting influenced the award of the tender.

Kenyan Election Update

Speaking at a political rally in  Kajiado on 15th June 2017, National Super Alliance (NASA) Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, said that the people of Kajiado sometimes felt compelled to sell parts of their land, not out of their own desire, but because of poverty. He said that NASA would change that, so that people do not sell their land. He also asked why the land buyers were coming from their places to the sellers' area and that those would-be buyers should remain in their areas. 

Video clips of part of his speech were shared on social media and Jubilee leaders and supporters alleged that Raila was calling for the eviction of 'outsiders' from Kajiado. President Kenyatta pointed out, at a subsequent rally, that the Constitution allows any Kenyan to buy land and settle in any part of the country. Some leaders called upon the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecution to probe Raila for incitement.

Mr. Odinga and NASA officials said that the presidential hopeful had said nothing wrong, and that he had only said NASA would end poverty so that people do not sell their land. Mr. Odinga further added that President Kenyatta's Jubilee administration must implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation's Commission's report on land injustices.

Just days after Mr. Odinga's remarks, leaflets calling for certain communities to leave Kajiado County by the 7th of August 2017 - the day before the elections - were found in circulation. Kajiado County Commissioner Harsama Kello said the government was seriously investigating the matter.

Presidential poll results for each constituency will be announced at constituency level, the Court of Appeal ruled on 23rd June, upholding an earlier ruling of the High Court.

The Court of Appeal said that it was hypocritical for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to doubt the honesty of its own staff to give this as the reason for the Commission 'verify' the results from the constituencies that it receives in Nairobi.

This matter was brought before the Court of Appeal by the IEBC after the electoral body disputed the ruling made in April by the High Court which stated that results announced at constituency tallying centres would be used to determine winners. 

A three-judge bench of the High court ruled that presidential election results announced at constituency tallying centres would be final in respect of the constituency and could only be questioned by the election court. The IEBC argued that the Constitution gives it powers to collate the presidential votes from the constituencies before they are pronounced as final. It also argued that IEBC had a responsibility to verify the results since only one court — the Supreme Court — can hear presidential election disputes.

The case in question was filed by human rights activists Maina Kiai, Khelef Khalifa and Tirop Kitur against the IEBC and Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Section 39 of the Elections Act and Regulations 83(2), 84(1) and 87(2)(c) of the Elections (General) Regulations 2012 that essentially granted IEBC powers to confirm, audit or even verify presidential election results sent by a Constituency Returning Officers.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had welcomed the April ruling saying that the results at the polling stations can be picked up and relayed to the public by the media and that this is the norm in other jurisdictions around the world.

Kenya is to hold General Elections on August 8th 2017. The Kenyan polls body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), awarded a tender to print about 120 million ballot papers, election results forms and poll registers for the elections to a Dubai firm, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC. 

The National Super Alliance (NASA) on Thursday 22nd June filed a lawsuit against the IEBC to block the tender. The suit seeks to cancel the tender on account of alleged fraud and lack of consultation with the main political parties. Presidential candidate Raila Odinga accused IEBC of ignoring voices of suspicion and fear over the involvement of the firm in the electoral process and alleged links to the President Uhuru Kenyatta's family.

On Friday, Justice Odunga asked the Chief Justice to constitute a three-judge bench to hear the dispute over the ballot papers.

This tender has not been without controversy. In October 2016, IEBC awarded the tender to Al Ghurair but the decision was nullified by the High Court in February 2017, following a suit filed by the opposition's Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) (CORD later joined others to form NASA). 
In its suit, CORD argued that the ballot papers tendered for were not in compliance with the amended Election Act which requires the papers to be in conformity with the integrated system. Judge George Odunga directed that the tender process start afresh.

Citing time constraints, the electoral commission opted to use restricted tendering where select firms were invited to bid but that also ran into trouble weeks later, when the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board nullified the process on grounds of faulty tender papers. The Board also accused the Commission of blatantly violating the law.

But later, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the IEBC would go for direct procurement after consultation with stakeholders.

On June 9th IEBC said it had taken into consideration several issues before settling on Al Ghurair. Among the considerations are the capacity of the firm, history of work done in Africa and the region, logistics and pricing.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga denied that the opposition was consulted.

Opposition leaders said senior Jubilee officials are involved in the Sh. 2.5 billion tender.

Chebukati announced that the IEBC will sponsor representatives of stakeholders to travel to Dubai and witness the printing of the materials.

NASA lawyers said their coalition would not honour IEBC’s invitation to accompany them to Dubai to witness the ballot printing process, maintaining their call that the tender should be awarded to another firm. Jubilee leaders also said they would not be part of the trip.

Thirdway Alliance Party of Kenya also called on the IEBC to cancel ballot printing tender to avoid chaos in the country. Party leader Ekuru Aukot asked for the tender to be awarded to an independent printing firm that has no links to any party contesting in the August elections. The party proposed that the United Nations supervises the tender process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party claimed that the Opposition was frustrating the process so the tender could be given to a South African company of their choice. Jubilee has also accused the Opposition of plotting to have the elections postponed.

On Friday June 23rd, Chief Justice David Maraga, as requested by the High Court, named Justice George Odunga, Justice Joel Ngugi (presiding) and Justice J.J. Mativo to form a three-judge bench to hear the case. Maraga authorised the judges to sit beyond working hours, if necessary, in light of the matter's urgency.

NASA lawyer, who is also the Senator for Siaya County, James Orengo, said that the remaining six weeks before the polls were enough for another firm to print the ballot papers.

"Printing ballot papers is not rocket science. We even print money here in Kenya," he said.

He added that in previous elections, nominations used to be done three weeks before the polling day and the polls body still managed to have ballot papers printed in the UK.

The anti-politician is now mainstream and politics has an authentic deficit disorder

With Teresa May heading to the Queen to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) it follows one of the worst election campaigns ever seen from the UK Conservatives.  

This was a campaign where the Conservatives blew a 20% lead at the start of the campaign and wound up losing their majority. 

It has been another example illustrating that without the influences of run-off voting systems or proportional voting systems (aka France and Holland); yet another leading campaign has run into a cocktail for political disaster, complacency, expectation management failure and authenticity deficit disorder.

The fundamental premise of this campaign, from the framing right through to execution, was that the Conservatives couldn’t lose. When they realised they could lose, the scare campaign was ramped up. Yet this was far too little and late to stem the bleeding.

However, whilst Corbyn has picked up a bit over 30 seats, he is still well short of a majority in the House of Commons. Despite increasing Labour’s vote share and adding millions of extra votes to the Labour tally, there is still a fundamental weakness in the Labour vote; a fundamental inability to take out marginal tory seats and to capitalise on the poor campaign of the Scottish Nationalists. In summary, the Labour vote was coming off a low base.

This election saw a pitch for a 'strong and stable' government fall flat.

The anti-establishment nature of the referendum campaign has scrambled the foundations of British politics. May was intitially a ‘remainer’ now advocating for a tough line on Brexit (or ‘hard brexit’ as many describe it). Jeremy Corbyn is an acolyte of Tony Benn, the leader of the hard left-wing of the Labour Party through the 1970s and 1980s and Michael Foot, the author of the manifesto which became known as the ‘Longest Suicide Note in History’. Corbyn was an early supporter of a Brexit, then campaigned in the referendum for ‘remain’ and now supports a Brexit once again.

On the backdrop of this scrambling was a Conservative campaign that refused to engage in TV debates, ran a campaign that wasn’t based on connecting with the mainstream and often appeared aloof. This was followed by a manifesto which attacked the Conservative base voters (see social care funding, ending the pension ‘triple lock’ and the famous ‘dementia tax’) that was never going to be rewarded.

Labour’s gains are also even more interesting, considering that the Corbyn campaign was often attacked for not doing enough to win back marginal seats.

Britain has seen a referendum campaign end their membership of the European Union and effectively seen the end of ‘New Labour’ all in the space of two years. Yet, what is again being missed in the majority of post-mortem conversations is that the trend is global and there are lessons for the future. But what is 'the trend'?

There is a global trend (and there has been for at least seven years) amongst western electorates, which don’t have proportional election systems, to now back to the ‘anti-politician’ politician regardless of political philosophical divides. The 'anti-politician' often taps into a resentment of existing institutions. Also known as 'anti-establishment' politics. In electorates where authenticity has been a perceived problem, the ‘standard’ campaign based on presentation, photo opportunities and three word clichés are not working (note ‘Strong and Stable’ and ‘Jobs and Growth’)

This is also prefaced on the fact that the ‘anti-establishment’ politician needs to rise inside the framework of establishment parties. This can be seen most recently with a Donald Trump Republican presidency. This is not as easy nor as random as it may seem.

For example, Jill Stein can’t mobilise a Sanders-style movement in the American left. Likewise, Hanson and Bernardi won’t be able to lead parties of government in the Australian mainstream system and the best that New Zealand First and Winston Peters can hope for is a role as a ‘support party’ (again) to a National Party government.

It is very important to also note that there is a difference between ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘populism’. The concept of politicians using budget measures to ‘buy’ support well and truly pre-dates the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ concept.

In the United States, we witnessed Hilary Clinton be attacked on two flanks - one from the philosophical left and one from the philosophical right. In the Democratic Primaries she lost 22 states to Bernie Sanders; a Corbyn-esque, dedicated Socialist independent Senator from Vermont who energised a base and built an engaged movement. Not unlike the ‘momentum’ movement behind Corbyn.

Despite Clinton surviving the challenge on her left, she failed to stave off Trump, perceived to be on her right, who perfected the anti-politician image, turned out his voters; but more importantly her campaign failed to bring out the voters mobilised by first Obama, then Sanders; Millennials, Latinos and African-Americans. Her turnout fell dramatically which allowed Trump to win.

In this new political reality, however, Clinton was a career political professional attempting to fend off two anti-politician campaigns that were always going to cannibalise her vote regardless of which traditional philosophical divide they may have been perceived to represent. 

In Australia, Barnaby Joyce will get some enjoyment to see that the electorate has finally caught up with him. He has been prosecuting this argument well before the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ politician around the world. Australia is full of politicians trying to bring this together; between Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, Bob Katter and Derryn Hinch; they all don’t get anywhere near the standard of Barnaby Joyce and his ability to do this, despite being the junior Coalition partner in an unpopular government.

However, if Anthony Albanese wins the leadership of the Labor Party in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull would almost be electorally unable to win. Albanese has figured out how to master this on the left in the Australian context, without the status of trying to do this from inside a minor party.

If the Coalition doesn't recognise and get across this anti-politician trend with effective strategies, they won’t win in 2019. If the Nationals in New Zealand don’t see the events of the UK and US as something that can manifest itself in New Zealand too, they will see a much larger New Zealand First and a more powerful Winston Peters.

Welcome to the mainstream where the anti-politician rules. 

Kenyan Elections 2017

Kenya's General Elections for President and other positions will be held on Tuesday August 8th 2017. Excitement and tension is building up towards that day, especially with regard to the Presidential election. 

The incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta will be vying for a second term. Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2013 elections, after his main rival at the time, Raila Odinga, disputed the results of those elections and filed a suit in the Supreme Court of Kenya. The Supreme Court upheld the declaration of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President a few weeks later. 

President Kenyatta is running on the recently formed Jubilee Alliance Party - a party formed out of the coalition of parties under which he vied for presidency in 2013. Mr William Ruto, the Deputy President, will be his running mate once again.

Before the 2013 elections, the current opposition formed the CORD coalition (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy). The principals of this coalition were Mr Raila Odinga, who was then Prime Minister and is the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, who was then vice-president and is the leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement and Mr. Moses Wetangula, who is currently the Minority Leader in the Senate and is also the leader of the Ford Kenya party 

Mr Odinga was the presidential candidate of the CORD coalition and Mr Musyoka was his running-mate.

A few notable political leaders have now teamed up with the CORD coalition to form what they have called the National Super Alliance (NASA). 'Nasa' also means 'to seize' or 'capture' in Swahili, Kenya's national language, and the opposition has declared their determination to capture the Presidency this year. 

One of the NASA leaders is Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, 56, the leader of the Amani National Congress, who was also a presidential candidate in 2013 and came third in those polls.

A recent addition to the NASA coalition is Mr Isaac Ruto, the current governor of Bomet County, and former member of the URP party that was part of the Jubilee coalition. His entry to NASA is seen by some as a blow to Jubilee and a boost to NASA, at least in terms of perception and possibly in terms of votes as well.

The NASA coalition has publicised an agreement on positions that each principal will get if they win the Presidency and form the next government.

As many people expected, once again, the 72-year-old Raila Odinga will again be running for president this year - for the fourth time. Mr. Musyoka will once again be his running-mate.

Mr. Musyoka served as Vice-President of Kenya from 2008 to 2013. He was a presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, and after those elections, he was appointed Vice-President, even as the country was engulfed in violence as the opposition disputed the election results that declared Mr, Mwai Kibaki the winner of the Presidential race. 

This violence eventually led to the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his Deputy, William Ruto, (the two being in opposite political camps at the time) being brought, with others, to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. The cases against them were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Mr. Odinga, who believes he was the actual winner of the 2007 elections, was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008 in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Odinga was Prime Minister until 2013.

The fact that Mr. Odinga and Mr. Musyoka were in government between 2008 and 2013 is often cited by Jubilee and their supporters when pointing out perceived failures of the administration of that time, and by extension, the failures of the two, though these supporters often don’t also point out that their own leaders were also in the same government.

Officially, there are 18 people in total who have registered with the IEBC as presidential candidates. Only a few are comparatively well known such as Dr. Ekuru Aukot, former member of the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review that worked on Kenya's 2010 Constitution and Mr Peter Ondeng’, who is expected to get at least some votes from evangelical Christians. The effect of these less prominent candidates on the presidential vote and if they might cause a run-off is yet to be seen.

Kenyan politics, to a significant extent, is based on tribal affiliations. Presidential candidates usually get major support from the areas largely inhabited by their ethnic communities. It is likely that tribal arithmetic – the number of voters from each tribe and their turnout at the polls - will play a significant part in the 2017 elections, but there are also emerging voices of opposition to this approach. A number of people in their forties and younger, are declaring that supporting a candidate based on tribe does not benefit them in their personal lives, and they would rather vote in competent leaders from whichever tribes. 

For example, there was a strike by doctors serving in public hospitals, which resulted in their union leaders being jailed for a few days (for failing to call off the strike). The fact that the doctors come from various ethnic backgrounds and they stood together for their cause may be seen by some as an indication that the tribal mindset may be weakening, at least among the younger generation.

Corruption in government will certainly be among the top issues harped upon by the opposition. USAID recently withdrew funding for government health projects citing corruption and the opposition will likely point this out as an example of government corruption being visible even to outsiders.

The current rising food prices will also likely be raised and the opposition will probably cite this as an example of failure by the government and probably also state that this failure was deliberately orchestrated to allow well-connected cartels to sell food to the public at exorbitant prices.

The Jubilee response to these accusations seems to be that the food shortage is caused by drought and that is beyond the government’s control. Some supporters also say that there was a similar hike in food prices when many of the opposition leaders were in government, so food shortage and high prices are not something new.

The opposition has often said that the Jubilee government has recklessly borrowed money, especially from China, and indebted the country beyond reasonable levels. They have also claimed that a lot of this money is then misdirected to individuals after it is received. 

The incumbent side usually responds by saying that the borrowed money has been used to start long-term projects that will lay the foundation for the country’s future growth and prosperity. The Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) project is one of the main projects that the Jubilee administration proudly takes credit for. It is supposed to ease transport of goods and services between the port town of Mombasa and the interior of Kenya and has created jobs for those working on the project. 

However, some claim that the cost of the SGR project was inflated and that it did not yield good value for money, when compared to a similar project in neighbouring Ethiopia, for example.

Apart from the polls themselves, IEBC, the body mandated to manage the elections, has been under criticism about its preparedness. In 2013, the polls faced challenges of failure of its machines and officials were later accused of negligence in procuring equipment. The commissioners of that time were compelled to resign following pressure by the opposition and new commissioners were selected and sworn into office. The IEBC recently admitted that it had as many as 128,000 records with shared details in its voter register. This register is currently undergoing audit by an independent audit firm.

In elections like Kenya, predicting elections isn't a straight forward business; but we will be keeping our eyes on the campaign and the results and the opportunities that can come from it it to engage with this part of Africa.

French Presidential Election

In the aftermath of Brexit and the tensions caused by the Dutch elections and Geert Wilders, The French Presidential Campaign will catch everybody’s attention and it will be the second of three big challenges European Union will face in 2017.

With regard to migration, the rise of nationalism or populism in several European countries in the last couple of years has concerned European leaders for eventual harms it could do to the European project and single market. For French people, nationalism is not something new. In fact, the radical right-wing party National Front (Front Nationale in French) has been participating in every French electoral campaign since its founding in 1972, however, their national relevance in french politics was very residual until the 2002 Presidential campaign of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked all critics and media when he assured a 2nd round with Jaques Chirac against all the experts' expectations who thought 2nd round would be Chirac facing Lionel Jospin. 

This result made the French parties to announce their vote preference in Chirac. As a matter of fact, 2nd round was too easy for Chirac. Besides the support of all moderate and progressive parties, Chirac had media and syndicates on his side, and so it became quite predictable his victory. In the end, Chirac’s won with 88% of the vote.

From that moment until 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen kept his position as President of National Front and competed in all French and European elections; however, he never reached the heights of 2002.There were many reasons for the decline of the radical right-wing party such as the modification of the regional electoral system to contain the influence of National Front in some regions; party faced a financial crisis and forced the party to make a restructuring to solve it.

Furthermore, the beginning of the 21st century was a time of some prosperity for both European countries and European Union. The European currency “Euro” had a bright start and it gained a very good reputation in the international markets, which gave some credit to the European project. The Euopean project was at an all time high of popularity in its member states.

After the results in 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen retired from the Presidency of National Front and there was an internal run between his daughter Marine Le Pen against the vice-president Bruno Gollish. In January 2011, Marine Le Pen was elected president of National Front and with her presidency, National Front was able to win 24 seats in the European Parliament.

This year, eleven candidates are running for President, but only 4 have any real chancey to get the final two places for a run-off election. What has changed the dynamic of the election is that both the Socialist candidate for President (Benoît Hamon) and Republican Candidate and Former French Prime Minister under former President Nicholas Sarkozy; Francois Fillon have both had lacklustre campaigns which have also seen Fillon has stubbornly resisting calls to step down after revelations he paid his wife and children government salaries, though they apparently did little or no work in return. He has not denied the payments but insists he did not misuse public funds.

Most French voters are not vindictive with regard to such minor instances of corruption, and given the other choices may decide to forgive Fillon because of the experience, demonstrated competence and sheer gravitas he would bring to the presidency.

Opinion polls show around a third of France's 45.7 million voters might abstain, an unprecedented number in a country with a long tradition of high turnouts. Even among those who intend to vote, about one-third have yet to make up their mind on how to cast their ballot.

When Fillon won the Republican Primary election in November, he proved that he was a strong finisher and will be betting that he gets a good split of the 30% undecided factor in recent French polling.

Heading into March, this race looked like it would have been the first election in French post- war history where there was not a major party candidate in the run-off election; which Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron being the likely candidates. Le Pen and Macron had 25% and 24% taken at the end of March by PrésiTrack OpinionWay / ORPI for Les Echos and Radio Classique.

While Fillon is attacking Macron as a closet Socialist too close to the unpopular Hollande Government, Le Pen has her vulnerabilities as well. Le Pen relies on support among young and working class voters, two groups where abstention is forecast to be high. 

According to the dutch Investment bank Rabobank, Emanuel Macron is the most likely candidate to succeed Holland in the presidency. According to the last polls Macron and Marine Le Pen are tied with 23%, followed by François Fillon and Mélenchon (Communist) with 18% each. 

This has been backed up by the latest Ifop-Fiducial poll on 12 April showed Le Pen winning 23.5 percent in the April 23 first round, one point ahead of centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Both Le Pen and Macron's support dipped by half a point from Tuesday while conservative Francois Fillon was stable on 19 percent and Melenchon unchanged on 18.5 percent.

The top two candidates go through to a run-off on May 7, where polls say Macron would easily beat Le Pen.

Mélenchon has surged in recent weeks with some good debate performances, in a field where enthusiasm is low (outside of Le Pen), however, his platform by many is seen as far too left wing even for left of centre voters who are gravitating to Macron's campaign as the only 'viable' opposition to Fillon or Le Pen. 

With Mélenchon and Le Pen rising in the polls; until the elections are over, the financial markets will see unrest as both want to put the EU membership of France to a vote and Le Pen wants to take France out of the Euro.

However, we predict that if Le Pen is in the final run-off election; she will lose. Le Pen, just like her father will galvanise all of the other parties against her (providing Mélenchon doesn't make the run off, which we see as unlikely). It is predicted that Macron, as the most likely to run against Le Pen would receive the endorsement of the Socialist President Hollande and the Republican Party through its standard bearer Fillon. 

This prediction is not only based in history when the same phenomenon saw Jacques Chirac receive the support of every other party to block Jean Marie Le Pen but in every head to head poll completed this cycle shows Le Pen losing to either Fillon or Macron.