Poll tracker: news from Norway, the Czech Republic, Catalonia and New Zealand

By Alex Porter
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8 August 2017
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In this week’s poll tracker, we turn to four countries where the polls may not tell the full story.

In Norway, Labour is predicted to convincingly win the largest number of seats in the upcoming election on September 11, with current polls giving Labour 32% of the vote against 22% for the Conservatives and 13% for Progress. Despite topping the polls at the last election in 2013, as they have in every parliamentary vote since 1927, Labour lost power as the cumulative total of the centre-right bloc saw them come out on top, allowing Erna Solberg of the conservative Høyre party to gain the premiership, governing in a minority coalition with the right-wing Progress party and the confidence votes of two smaller parties.

2017 may provide an opportunity for Labour to move back into government though. According to analysis of an average of national polls by Poll of Polls, Solberg’s current coalition is set to win only 80 seats against a total of 87 for Labour and its supporting parties. This is partly explained by a surge in support for the traditional agrarian Centre party – currently the fifth largest in parliament – since the beginning of the year. The party is currently polling at 9.5% – an increase of a third on their 2013 result – with their leader, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, indicating a clear interest in forming a centre-left coalition with Labour.

By contrast, in the Czech Republic, the social democrats are poised to lose power in the election set for 20-21 October. Polling by Median has seen the governing ČSSD vote share crumble since the 2013 election, from a result of 20.5% to 14% in July’s polling, against 27.5% for its current junior coalition partner, the nominally liberal but widely regarded as populist, ANO.

The strong double-digit lead of between 12 and 20 percentage points should make the party’s founder and the country’s second richest man, former finance minister Andrej Babis, a shoe-in to lead the Czech Republic’s next ruling coalition as prime minister. But Babis’ seemingly strong position may be undermined by the fact that some other parties that have ruled out joining an ANO-led administration, after he was forced to resign from the current government earlier this year, under allegations of corruption.

The incumbent president, Miloš Zeman – a former Social Democrat prime minister who founded the splinter party, SPO in 2009 – is expected to retain the directly elected presidency in a vote early next year. An admirer of President Trump and widely regarded as a Babis ally, Zeman currently polls at over 40%, but there is still time for other candidates to declare. Babis has said that ANO will not hold its own primaries until after the legislative elections, when it will decide whether to field its own candidate or throw the party’s weight behind Zeman.

Polls for the upcoming Catalan independence referendum are, however, neck and neck. After a short-lived surge for the unionist campaign in late June, the latest polling in advance of the 1 October vote shows ‘Sí’ enjoying a 4.1% lead, ahead by 41.9% to 37.8%. But the vote has only been called by the Catalan regional government: Madrid pledges it will ignore the result. Of course, either way, if the people of Catalonia vote for secession, the result has the potential to turn a long-festering sore back into an open wound.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, after another devastating poll by Newshub-Reid Research and weeks of declining popularity, Labour’s Andrew Little stepped down as leader on July 31. The latest analysis put support for Labour at just 24.1% – the party’s worst showing on this poll since 1995. Little’s resignation makes way for Jacinda Ardern to begin her tenure as only the second female leader in the party’s history. Read more from State of the Left on whether Arden is the fresh start Kiwi Labour needs to turn the polls around.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com/360b