Japan, Germany, Norway and New Zealand are all having general elections around now. And it's nice to see how incredibly polite the campaigns are going, all sticking to policies without the personal insults and underhand tactics (Exclusive Brethren excepted) usually associated with louder campaigns in other, different countries, like we had to endure last year.
In Japan , the issues seem quite mundane, such as privatisation plans of the post office, but that is part of the policies to counteract the long, long no-growth era and deflation. Long term problems need long term solutions, not just electorally expedient band aids.
In Germany, voters have an unenviable choice of policy ahead of them: stick with reforms by the SPD/Greens or choose for redistribution towards the top with the CDU/CSU. Good to see battles on policies rather than personalities.
In Norway, the vote will be close with a minority conservative government trying to fend off a centre left coalition. The BBC reporter Humphrey Hawksley did an excellent report this morning on BBC Four News on what moves voters in this one of the richest (and with one of the most extensive welfare systems) countries in the world. Kindergartens and childcare, apparently, because despite all the social welfare and support, both parents are eager to go out working and to have their children minded.
In New Zealand, I am already so over this campaign and it's got another week to go. I am definitely not going to second-guess my fellow citizens and their voting behaviour despite the siren calls to vote "tactically" to keep such and such party out and such and such party in. I have never in my life voted Tory and I'm not about to start now. So far I have decided to vote for the Green Party. But I may still change my mind, just because I can.