Elections Are Rarely Decided By Security And Defense Issues

Elections Are Rarely Decided By Security And Defense Issues

While the major parties move to elections mode The Morrison government has clearly placed. Security and defense in the forefront of the campaign.

By describing Labor in a way that makes it appear weak on China, Defense Minister Peter Dutton is hoping. Fears of China’s global ambitions give an advantage in the polls to the Coalition.

What do the past’s experiences reveal about the significance of security and defense issues during federal elections? If these issues turn into a major issue in the election who will be the beneficiaries?

Australia’s Security During The Past Elections

The issue of national security has naturally been a major theme of recent elections. Just think Tony Abbott’s Stop the Boats election slogan in 2013 as well as the children. Overboard affair under the then-Prime John Howard. John Howard in 2001.

However, in both instances, the problems were concerned with homeland security and asylum seekers. Not the defense policies or foreign policy of Australia.

It is necessary to revisit the elections in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. When Australia’s participation during the Vietnam War was a divisive issue. We can find an instance of defense appearing prominently in the course of an election.

In 1966, during the peak of support from the American public in Vietnam. At the height of public support for Vietnam War. Harold Holt was able to win a decisive victory in the ruling Liberal/Country coalition, challenging the Labor position. That withdrawing troops from Vietnam could put the country’s security in danger.

Debate Over The Country Elections

Since then, the debate over the country’s foreign and defense policies has been relatively quiet. The withdrawal of Australia of Vietnam in 1972 was the start of a lengthy. Period of bipartisanship over defense, both sides considering. America as being the US as the keystone to Australian defense and foreign policy.

There’s also no doubt regarding the importance of US towards Australia in terms of public opinion. As we discuss in our new book that looks at these developments from 1945 until today.

Both Australian Election Study (AES) research and surveys of Lowy Institute Lowy Institute have rarely recorded. Less than eight of 10 respondents believing that the relationship between Australia. And the US was very or fairly essential for Australia’s security. The differences in support of both major parties are hardly noticeable.

The reason for this could stem from the fact, since the closing in the Cold War in the early 1990s. The general public has experienced a comparatively low number of external threats for Australia’s security.

The wars that raged in Afghanistan and Iraq occurred in distant locations and were not seen as directly threatening. In the event that people have seen as a threat, it’s been by terrorism. With the 2003 Bali attack being the latest instance.

The Attitudes Towards China As An Imminent Threat

The military and economic growth of China in recent times has altered the public’s estimation. This is, at a minimum, because of a growing awareness of China’s aggression toward Taiwan as well as its claims over its claims over the South China Sea and its embargoes against Australian products and other goods, which has caused concern about China’s ability to jeopardize Australian security.

Other factors, including the tone of coverage in media regarding China might have contributed to this shift in perception of threat

We have witnessed a significant change in the public discussion regarding Chinese impact in Australia. Since 2015 the perceived threat has gone from being a minor issue in mainstream media to becoming a major issue.

Typically, changes in public opinion about different countries be gradual over a period of time. But with regard to China the change has been significant.

Tiananmen Square Massacre Elections

The AES studies show that , in 1987 shortly prior to Tiananmen Square massacre, just prior to Tiananmen Square attack, just 3 percent of the population considered China as very likely to pose an imminent security threat to Australia. In 2019, that number was 31 percent. We anticipate that it will be higher in the upcoming AES survey.

The polls of Lowy also show the same trend of increasing the public’s concern over China. The 2006 poll found that 40 percent of Australians considered little trust in China and in 2021 this number nearly doubled.

The 2021 Lowy survey also revealed that at the beginning of the survey in history, more people viewed China as threat to their security than as being an economic and trade partner.

In the relatively stable environment of public opinion regarding foreign and security These are significant changes that have significant political implications, not the least of which is the upcoming federal election.

Which Side Stands To Gain?

The two main parties generally seen by the general public as being more at handling some problems than other. Based on our research, the Coalition thought to more effective in terms of economic management, taxation and immigration. Labor is prefer in education, health as well as climate changes.

The Coalition also enjoyed advantages over Labor in the area of national security previous time that the AES inquired about this topic in 2007. The Security and defence policies of the Coalition over Labor’s by eight points.

This advantage is likely be significantly larger in 2022 as compared to 2007. When there a threat people tend to think of the government as more trustworthy in security and defense issues this known as it’s the rally around the flag effect.

Coalition Government Elections

The Coalition government gained from this in the early days of the pandemic, when it was believe to be capable of dealing with a unique health crisis. But the slow pace of introduction of vaccines and other problems have since diminished the advantages.

When faced with security and defense as a political issue Labor’s only option is to stress the bipartisan nature of the issue.

So, Labor has made relatively only a few remarks about the newly signed AUKUS security agreement with the US and the UK beyond to express its support in principle. It has also not said that Labor opposed in any way with the policy of the government’s reaction against China’s embargos on trade imposed against Australia.

While the Coalition is adamant about its perceived advantages on security concerns, Labor’s most effective method is move the discussion toward issues in which it will have a longer-term advantage over voters, like education, health and environment. However, the success of it could depend on events that are outside the control of one or both major political parties.