Australia will hold general elections Saturday, an important event in light of the sagging economies of neighboring nations in Asia.
It isn't clear which party is likely to win. Australians are somewhat fed up with the governing Labor Party, cloven by leadership battles. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd fell victim in 2010 to an internal party coup by Julia Gillard. As prime minister she then was felled in another party coup, this time personal and ugly, in June, carried out by Mr. Rudd, who returned to power. He will lead Labor in Saturday's elections.
In spite of the opprobrium that the internal battles have brought Labor in the eyes of Australians, the party can claim some credit for the good health of the national economy in the midst of global recession. Labor was blessed by the release Wednesday of gross domestic product figures which showed a modest 2.6 percent growth rate in the second quarter. The growth was based on a rise in consumer spending, which is sometimes a sign of benign feelings toward a government by its people, more good news for Labor.
Even so, many Australians have become exasperated with Labor's leadership. Mr. Rudd was not popular as prime minister. Ms. Gillard started out popular, but became less so. However, opposition leader Tony Abbott of the Liberal-National coalition is also not greatly admired among Australians.Two days before the balloting, polls show the Liberal-Nationals winning, but it is hard to say.
For the United States, it doesn't matter much which party wins. The administration of President Barack Obama will get along with either well enough. What America should want in Australia is continued prosperity and stability.
Asia, in general, may be on the brink of another economic and financial crisis, not dissimilar to that which it experienced in 1997-98. The picture is mixed, but both China and India seem to be slowing down economically and the smaller countries of the region will inevitably be affected.
Australia, too, could be hit by diminished Chinese demand for its exports, but it has shown an admirable ability to ride out the recession, in no small part because of sensible leadership.