September is a bumper month for election watchers

As voters go to the polls this month in Norway, Canada and Germany, John Rentoul asks what can be learnt from these contests

Sunday 12 September 2021 00:00
<p>Angela Merkel bows out after 16 years at the top in Germany </p>

Angela Merkel bows out after 16 years at the top in Germany

Norway votes in a general election today and tomorrow, with Jonas Gahr Stoere, leader of the Labour Party, expected to take over as prime minister from Erna Solberg, the Conservative leader. Solberg’s party rose in popularity at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, despite her apology for breaking her own lockdown rules, but Labour has gained ground since, along with the Socialist Left Party. That means the left block of parties is heading for a large majority in an election fought on the issues of equality and climate change.

For election watchers, September is a bumper month. Canada goes to the polls next Monday and Germany the following Sunday (26 September). Although the British media is often accused of being unreasonably obsessed with US elections, these are fascinating contests that should also grip us, and from which we can learn.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, has been accused of failing to learn a lesson of his own from British politics – namely Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in 2017 in an attempt to capitalise on a strong position in opinion polls.

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