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Beltway Confidential

What do Australia and Norway have in common?

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Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

Australia on Saturday and Norway on Monday voted to oust center-left governments in favor of center-right coalitions. Both of these countries have economies which have been doing very well, thanks to the booming demand for resources. Norway is a major oil producer and Australia mines iron ore and other minerals for which China has been importing in large amounts. These both have income levels higher than almost any other country and they suffered little or not at all from the 2007-09 recession. Yet both have rejected incumbent parties and have voted for more conservative alternatives.

Is there any common thread? I would suggest it's the unpopularity of center-left policies which voters have had to live with. Australia's Liberal party (it's the center-right party) leader Tony Abbott promised to repeal the Labor government's carbon tax. Norway's Conservative party leader Ema Solberg has promised that her country needs more business-friendly policies in order to pay for its expensive welfare state.

These center-right victories may hold lessons for American conservatives — and perhaps for American liberals as well. The latter might want to ponder whether they can continue to win if their policies prove unpopular in practice (Obamacare, anyone?).

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