America's politics don't have any exact analogs in foreign countries, but Australia's politics are probably closest to ours. (For example, my theory of "Affordable Family Formation" has received more positive response from Australians than from any other country.) Australian politics are confusing at first glance, because the Liberals are the more conservative party, while Labour is on the left, but they can provide an early warning system for American politics.
Ex-Prime Minister John Howard, who won four general elections before losing last month, is perhaps the closest foreign leader to an American Republican politician. Now that the ballot counting is finally over, it turns out that not only did Howard get booted out of the Prime Minister's job, but he also got booted out of the Australian parliament entirely, losing his seat largely due to Asian voters.
Australia doesn't have too much of an illegal immigration problem, but it's important to note that in Australia, prosperous East Asian voters have now proven a natural constituency for the left.
Phillip Coorey, Chief Political Correspondent
December 13, 2007
JOHN HOWARD conceded defeat in Bennelong yesterday. But less than a year ago the woman who vanquished him, Maxine McKew, thought her partner, Bob Hogg, was mad for recommending she try to depose the prime minister.
It was the audacity of Hogg's suggestion that horrified McKew. Stanley Melbourne Bruce was the only prime minister to lose his seat, and that was in 1929.
"I said to him: 'Are you insane? People would think that would be the ultimate vanity? Who does she think she is, taking on the prime minister?"' McKew told Margot Saville, whose book The Battle For Bennelong will be launched next week.
… On November 24 McKew ousted Howard from the seat he had held for 33 years.
As the book reveals, it was due largely to a clinical targeting of Bennelong's above-average number of non-English-speaking, foreign-born and predominantly Asian voters. …
Labor headquarters sent into action a "crack team" of "Chinese- and Korean-speaking twentysomethings" to liaise with the Asian communities. Saville told the Herald the operatives were groomed through the Young Labor movement and worked the party's Electrac data system incessantly to target Asian voters with emails and visits.
They later integrated themselves into the largely Asian Maxine Support Group, or MSG. [!]
McKew's campaign office secured a phone number that ended in 888 because many Chinese believe 8 to be a lucky number.
Thousands of how-to-vote guides in Chinese and Korean were printed and delivered, as were testimonials from prominent members of the Asian community.
Rudd's daughter, Jessica, and her new Hong-Kong-born husband, Albert Tse, were used frequently.
In the final week of the campaign they accompanied McKew at a function at the Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizens Club. Tse gave a speech in Cantonese, Jessica Rudd in Mandarin. The Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao ran the story on its front page.
Rudd's own affinity with
, evidenced by his command of Mandarin, was pivotal, as was Howard's earlier attitude to Pauline Hanson's One Nation and his controversial 1988 comments on Asian immigration. China
On the last day of the campaign, Sing Tao's front page carried the story of the race-hate pamphlet scandal in the seat of Lindsay. Next to it was a story mentioning Howard's 1988 comments.
A day later, voters handed Maxine McKew her place in history.