Australia's Pat Buchanan: Out, But Not Down

Letter From Australia

If 1998 is remembered in Australian political history for nothing else—a probable assumption, given the administrative gridlock which otherwise prevailed—it will go down in the annals for two events: Prime Minister John Howard's upset reelection on October 3; and, of longer-term significance, Pauline Hanson's failure to retain her parliamentary seat. This latter development eliminated the last few semantic distinctions between vultures and political commentators, whether in Australia or abroad (British and Asian newspaper coverage of the election result was devoted to almost nothing else). Saying the last rites for Mrs. Hanson or for her One Nation party, however, will prove as reckless as were these same commentators' assurances six months ago of her absolute invincibility.

What she has already achieved is formidable. At Queensland's state election on June 13, One Nation won 11 parliamentary seats (from a total of 89) and 23 percent of the popular vote. The woman whose star had so completely faded by early 1998 that she seemed merely "to point a moral or adorn a tale" for journalists on an exceptionally dull Tuesday afternoon — in fact, on June 13 she did not even stand as a candidate—returned, to constitute the stuff of the chattering classes' nightmares. Even she failed to predict her troops' success. (As one subsequently disenchanted party member told reporters, One Nation...

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