Archive for the 'International' Category


Why Ed Miliband can take some comfort from Tony Abbott’s victory in Australia

Monday, September 9th, 2013

In July he was 14% behind as “preferred Prime Minister”

One footnote from the last week’s Austrailian general election and the change of government is that the new prime minister trailed Kevin Rudd in the approval and “preferred Prime Minister” ratings.

Only a few weeks ago the eventual winner was 14% behind in some of the polls while the man who was to lose, Kevin Rudd, became the only Australian party leader in two and a half years to have positive ratings.

So the lesson, as we saw here in 1979 and 1970 is that general elections can be won by parties led by those who appear on these measures to be a long way behind.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news


Dramatic events in Australian politics

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The country’s first woman PM deposed

Watch the live ABC stream here.


TSE on Making Your Mind Up on who to back at Eurovision.

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Whilst the polls show Brits remain cynical about Eurovision and think it is all about politics, some of us enjoy Eurovision for that reason, for the music and the betting opportunities.

With the elimination of the Former Yugoslavian states of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia in the semi finals, and Bosnia and Herzegovina withdrawing from the contest, due to financial reasons, there’s a potential for less Balkan bloc voting this time around which could make the final result more open.

There are many opportunities available to bet on the song contest.

The Danish entry, is the overwhelming favourite, and has been for quite some time.

Fortunately there are betting markets for a winner without Denmark or going for an each way bet with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.

My tips, apart from the Danes, are The Germans, who are represented by Cascada, a band that has enjoyed pop success in the UK, in the past.

I’ve also backed  The Ukrainian, Norwegian and  Irish entries.

I’m quite impressed by the Irish entry, for the last couple of years by sending Jedward, I’ve wondered if the Irish really wanted to win Eurovision. Short of sending Johnny Logan, I can’t see a clearer statement from the Irish that they want to win Eurovision this year.

It wouldn’t be Eurovision, without an entry that looks like something Borat has produced, and the Romanian entry meets that category.

What of the UK’s entry, this year?

I have to confess whilst being a fan of Bonnie Tyler, like Engelbert Humperdinck, I don’t expect her to do well, I suspect some of her 80s material would have done very well in Eurovision.

I have the expectation that she’ll finish 21st or lower, and have availed myself of Paddy Power, who offer evens on such an occurrence (Englerbert finished 25th last year)

Hopefully next year the BBC will allow the viewers to choose the artist/band who represents the UK in Eurovision 2014, and maybe some of the UK’s best artists and bands decide to be shortlisted for the honour, musical giants, such as The Rolling Stones, New Order, Emeli Sandé, The Stone Roses, Depeche Mode, Steps or Radiohead, and we can go back to the halcyon days when the likes of Bucks Fizz won.

For true fans of Eurovision, the main focus of attraction of the evening is not on the artists performing, or the voting, but that the news that Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus have teamed up with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii to produce the anthem for this year’s ceremony.

The Eurovision Song Contest starts at 8pm BST and will be on BBC 1 and BBC1 HD.



(Whose interest in and enjoyment of all things Eurovision has disturbed his friends for many years)


Next weekend’s Italian Election by Andrea Parma

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Can Silvio prevent a left majority?

Italy is set to hold parliamentary elections on February 24-25th. In 2008 Silvio Berlusconi comfortably won, leading the centre-left coalition of Walter Veltroni by around 9%. As is often the case on the Italian political scene, his government couldn’t finish its 5 year term and Mario Monti took over as a “technocrat” PM in late 2011. 47 lists or coalitions of lists are contesting this election but just five coalitions are likely to poll over 4% (the threshold required to get seats in the House).

After announcing his retirement 2-3 times, Berlusconi is back at the helm of the centre-right coalition. At the last minute, his PdL managed to re-establish its alliance with the Northern League (Lega Nord) once again. On the centre-left, the PD is proposing Pier Luigi Bersani for PM, a former minister under the centre-left governments during 1996-2001 and 2006-08 periods, coming from the old Eurocommunist tradition. His coalition also includes SEL (Greens + former Communists) led by Apulia governor Nichi Vendola.

After his stint as PM, Monti decided that he would like to be a politician after all and he created his movement, called Civic Choice. He’s joined by Casini’s UdC (Christian Democrats) and Fini’s FLI in the “With Monti for Italy” coalition (Con Monti per l’Italia). Former TV entertainer Beppe Grillo created the Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement) to ride the populist “anti all parties” wave, which is quite big because of all the scandals Italian politicians are usually involved in. Finally, former prosecutor and political newcomer Ingroia leads Civic Revolution (which is basically a coalition of former prosecutor Di Pietro, Naples mayor De Magistris, former communists, and former Greens who didn’t follow Vendola).

The campaign started with Bersani’s centre-left coalition comfortably leading. However, Berlusconi has been hyperactive with an intensive TV presence (even attending political chat shows hosted by hostile journalists). At the same time, the PD have run a lackluster campaign (and they were marginally hit by a scandal involving a bank close to them). The gap started to tighten and now Bersani is just 5-6% ahead. Those who remember the nail-biting election night in 2006, with punters on the edge of their seats, may recall that the centre-left Prodi coalition held off Berlusconi’s coalition by just 0.1% in the Chamber of Deputies – but the final opinion polls two weeks earlier had given the centre-left a similar lead to their 2013 final poll lead…

Latest polls (note – no new polls published after 8th February)

IPR: Bersani 34.2%. Berlusconi 28.0%. Grillo 16.5%. Monti 14.1% Ingroia 4.2%
TECNE’: Bersani 33.2% Berlusconi 29.2% Grillo 16.3% Monti 12.9% Ingroia 5%
SWG: Bersani 33.8% Berlusconi 27.8% Grillo 18.8%. Monti 13.4% Ingroia 4.1%
QUORUM: Bersani 34.5% Berlusconi 29.5% Grillo 14.7%. Monti 13.9% Ingroia 3.9%
IPSOS: Bersani 34.9% Berlusconi 28.3% Grillo 15.8%. Monti 15.3% Ingroia 3.7%
PIEPOLI: Bersani 37% Berlusconi 32% Grillo 13 Monti 13% Ingroia 3.5%
EUROMEDIA: Bersani 34.4% Berlusconi 32.7% Grillo 14.5%. Monti 12.3% Ingroia 3.8%
ISPO: Bersani 37.2% Berlusconi 29.7% Grillo 14.3%. Monti 12.9% Ingroia 4.2%
EMG: Bersani 35% Berlusconi 28.5% Grillo 16%. Monti 14.1% Ingroia 3.5%

The electoral system used is quite complicated. In the Chamber of Deputies, the coalition coming out on top in Italy (exlcuding Valle d’Aosta) will get 55% of the seats available (340 seats). There are 630 seats up for grabs, 12 are elected by Italians voting overseas, one from the small region of Valle d’Aosta, while Italy excluding Aosta elects 617. However, the Senate (we have a perfect bicameral system with both houses having the same powers) is elected at regional level. This makes the political composition of the Senate more complex to predict and the absolute majority more difficult to reach.

Bersani will win more regions, but Berlusconi is strongest in big regions where more seats are at stake. The key regions are Lombardy, Veneto, Sicily, Campania and Apulia. Veneto looks to be held comfortably by Berlusconi. In Apulia and Campania, Bersani seems ahead but they are still too close to call. To get a majority, Bersani needs them and at least one between Sicily and Lombardy.

Andrea is a regular poster on Politicalbetting

(Double Carpet adds:) With the two-house system, a new government will need to win a confidence vote in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, so even if the centre-left win the majority in the Chamber, Bersani as PM might well need the support of Monti in the Senate – could “Super Mario” leave the premiership but return as Finance Minister? As the experience of 2006 shows, love him or loathe him, Berlusconi can not be underestimated as a political operator, especially with all his media and financial firepower, and it looks as though there may be a leaders’ debate on Thursday which might be to his advantage too. The 2013 election has long seemed in the bag for Bersani and the centre-left, but might Berlusconi (with the tacit support of Grillo?) yet have them snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? And if that’s the case, will they bitterly regret not voting for the younger, and more charismatic (but less popular with the rank and file membership) Matteo Renzi to be the centre-left’s standard-bearer at the election?

Unusually, Italy has two days for the general election, Sunday and Monday (the Czechs are another example with Friday/Saturday) so the exit polls should be available at the close of voting at 2pm GMT on Monday 25th February. If the result is a comfortable win, as in 2008, the result should be very clear by 6-7pm UK time, but if it’s wafer-thin and we’re waiting on close results in Senate regions, it could be getting on for midnight. A final thought – should the centre-right win and (as Silvio has said will happen) Angelo Alfano becomes the new PM (despite Berlusconi being the coalition leader for the election), I haven’t seen him mentioned in many betting markets.

If anyone would like to play the Italy election game, it’s available below – entries close 7am GMT next Sunday, and the Eastleigh and then Mid-Ulster games will be out next.

Double Carpet (@electiongame)


Greece: The punters had Samaras’s victory right all along

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The biggest betting night since the UK general election

The tight victory by Antonis Samaras’s ND party ended what was almost certainly the biggest night of political betting since the UK general election in May 2010.

Overall on Betfair’s various markets more than £1.6m was traded a large part of that in the final 24 hours. Interestingly, in view of the way the election was being reported, the ND was always favourite.

The longest price on ND that you could have got in the final week was 0.7/1. So a bet of £10 would have netted a profit of just £7. That compares with Syriza when, apart from one bet at 0.98/1 was above evens throughout.

On the most votes market a total of £1,227,123 was traded on ND. The Syriza total, by comparison was just £162,804.

The scale of the betting, which was seen across all the bookmakers that had markets, reflects the massive global interest in the race and that the outcome was presented all the time as being very tight.

Mike Smithson @MSmithsonPB


Greece – What next?

Sunday, June 17th, 2012


Greece June 2012 – Election Night Special

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Wikimedia Commons

Is this the most important election ever?

It’s often heard from politicians seeking votes that “this is the most important election for a generation” – I have yet to hear an election being described as “not terribly important”. But today’s poll in Greece can be justifiably described as critical and potentially historic. Can a new government be formed this time, and will the country be continuing with the bailout in some form with ND/Pasok or taking a radically different turn with Syriza? The result is keenly awaited by the markets and could have ripple effects through Europe, the UK, the US, and beyond.

No official opinion polls were permitted to be published during the final fortnight of the campaign, and although the majority of the pre-ban polls had the pro-bailout centre-right New Democracy ahead, several showed Syriza with a lead. Those wanting polling information in the final two weeks had to do some digging, but it appears to be the case that ND had a lead of about 2-3 points, while a Syriza source today via Twitter (usual pinch of salt applies) suggested that they were about 1.5% behind at mid-afternoon, while turnout seems to be on the low side.

    For what it’s worth my gut feeling is that ND will win by at least a point, thus securing the 50-seat bonus for finishing top, and will be able to put together a coalition goverment with the severely weakened Pasok, to ensure that the bailout and austerity programme continues, although maybe with some modifications. It looks as though all the other parties expected to win seats – Pasok, Independent Greeks, Dimar, KKE, Golden Dawn – will be down on their May showing.

But – a couple of straws in the wind. As Our Genial Host mentioned, what about the football last night – does this benefit ND or Syriza? And is Merkel’s call for Greeks to vote for a party that will continue with the country’s commitments really going to help New Democracy as she wants? I wonder whether there will be quite a few wavering voters who will think “**** you, I’m not going to be told how to vote by Germany” and will plump for Syriza. Might we yet see Syriza pull off a win – and then could they put a government together with Dimar and/or Pasok? (The Communist KKE will almost certainly stay out.) Then, all bets are off.

Either way, it should be a fascinating night ahead, plus the government formation to follow. Exit polls are at 5pm UK time and results will emerge during the evening. With the urban/rural divide in Greece now being broadly Syriza/ND, Syriza should gradually creep up in vote share, as the urban centres such as Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki are likely to finish counting after the smaller rural districts. For all the problems with the country, Greece is actually pretty efficient at elections and government formation – each party leader attempting to form a new government will have just 3 days – compare and contrast with the 18 months that Belgium took.

Finally, there are a couple of other elections today that are worth noting. In France, it’s the second round of the parliamentary elections, with the expectation being that Hollande will secure a majority for the Socialists, maybe even without having to rely on other parties on the left. Rather like Obama in 2009, the PS would then control the presidency, the National Assembly, and the Senate. Meanwhile in Egypt, it’s the runoff in the presidential election, and a rather unpalatable choice for many between Ahmed Shufiq, PM under Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi.


Greece official results (and May results) – for both of these, click home logo bottom left for map


Athens News

Double Carpet (Twitter: @electiongame)

DC mainly covers international politics for PB, with occasional forays into the UK and US. He also runs The Election Game.


How’s last night’s Euro 2012 victory going to impact on the Greek election?

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Will the exultation be better for Syriza or New Democracy?

Today’s crucial general election in Greece takes place after a dramatic victory for the country in Euro 2012 which ensured that it has a place in the quarters finals.

Fans were celebrating into the early hours and there’s little doubt that sporting success like this can affect the mood of a whole nation. Thus many Labour figures put down the party’s defeat in the 1970 election to the outcome of a crucial England match in the World Cup a few days beforehand.

So what could last night’s victory over Russia do to the mood of Greek voters.

    Could it encourage defiance of the international pressure and lead to the defiant Syriza party getting an edge.

    Or could it help New Democracy which is committed to implementing the austerity measures being demanded of the country.

This is a serious question because the polling suggests that the election is very tight and anything that could impact on voter behaviour has to be taken into consideration.

It might be that the result has helped restore some Greek pride which must have been battered by events of the last few months.

I find it hard to say which party will benefit but I do believe it will have an impact.

Greek Election results: Paul Maggs (Double Carpet) will be doing a thread later on in the afternoon

Mike Smithson @MSmithsonPB