Saturday, September 16

Saturday, September 16

A ROAD LESS TRAVELLED Liberal Democrats mull future at autumn conference Today, the UK’s Liberal Democrats begin their four-day autumn

A ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

Liberal Democrats mull future at autumn conference

The Liberal Democrats must find a new message to maintain relevance

Photo: Getty

Today, the UK’s Liberal Democrats begin their four-day autumn conference in Bournemouth, with party veteran Lord Ashdown warning they must return to their “radical insurgent” past to confront existential challenges.

Following their disappointing election result in June—the party won just over 7% of the vote—Sir Vince Cable took the helm in an uncontested vote. Replacing Tim Farron, who previously failed to capture the 48% remain vote by “betting the farm” on a second Brexit referendum, Cable has taken aim at inequality by advocating new taxes on wealth and property.

Despite hailing Cable as a multi-talented leader, Ashdown argues the LibDems needs new and profound ideas if they want to stay relevant in the UK’s polarised political climate.

With a pro-EU and pro-immigration stance, a tactical opportunity exists for the party’s new leadership to partner with Labour, which recently announced it would back a soft Brexit approach. If the party can’t establish a strong message to rally support, it may well find itself consigned to the opposition backbench…and, potentially, history.

BELLWETHER BY-ELECTION

Test for Pakistan’s ruling party amid Lahore by-election

Kulsoom Nawaz is widely expected to clinch a vital parliamentary seat in Lahore

Photo: Getty

With general elections in Pakistan just under a year away, all eyes are on the district of Lahore; today’s by-election is being viewed as a litmus test for the ruling Pakistani Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).

A PML-N stronghold since 1985, the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in July has breathed new life into opposition parties in Lahore.

Yasmin Rashid, of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is contesting the district on a platform of health, basic infrastructure and anti-corruption. Rashid is hoping to build on her success in the 2013 election, where she became the first candidate to secure more than 50,000 votes against Mr Nawaz.

The PML-N candidate and wife of the ousted PM, Kulsoom Nawaz, has sought to tap into deep loyalties for her husband and frame the election as an opportunity to vindicate Mr Nawaz Sharif. While much has been made of the prime minister’s disqualification, Lahore’s voters are most concerned about economic empowerment and the provision of services.

Expect the deeply entrenched loyalties held to the Sharif family – one privately commissioned survey has support at 69% – to carry Kulsoom Nawaz to electoral victory in Lahore. For Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, this election will be a test run of their platform ahead of the 2018 election.

POLITICIAN OR NOT?

Malta’s opposition party to elect a new leader amid controversy

Adrian Delia is vying to be the leader of Malta’s Nationalist Party in today’s ballot

Photo: NewsMalta

After a heated campaign that has exposed deep divisions in the country’s centre-right opposition party, Malta’s Nationalist Party (PN) will elect its new leader today. The current leader, Simon Busittil, signalled his intention to step down after losing the general election to the Labour Party in June.

The PN’s leadership is contested between established party member Chris Said and lawyer Adrian Delia. Mr Delia has run a populist campaign, claiming he’s “proud to not be a politician”.

But such rhetoric risks fragmenting the PN. Prominent party members have threatened to quit if Mr Delia clinches victory. Many perceive Mr Delia’s policies to be contrary to the PN’s conservative tradition, leading some to say his views represent a danger to the party’s “historical identity”.

Despite this, Delia led the first vote with a resounding 616 of 1365 votes, and is widely expected to be Malta’s next opposition leader.

With Malta’s Labour government currently presiding over the third lowest unemployment rate in Europe and a rare budget surplus, it is sure to be a long way to the top for the PN, regardless of today’s result.