Quarterly Essay 25

Bipolar Nation: How to Win the 2007 Election

Peter Hartcher

Release Date:
March 2007
Our Price:
Buy Book

In the first Quarterly Essay for 2007, Peter Hartcher discusses the fantasies and realities at the heart of our politics. When our political leaders look at us, what do they see? What are the hopes, fears and dreams of the Australian electorate, and how might they be turned to election winning advantage? What, most fundamentally, do we want in a prime minister?

In this scintillating and original essay, Peter Hartcher investigates today's "bipolar nation", where Australians are more economically secure, yet existentially as anxious as ever. He explains how the Lucky Country and the Frightened Country will be the two grand themes of the election year, and discusses how John Howard will set out to craft an election winning strategy on that basis. He revisits Donald Horne's Lucky Country, looks at the legacy of Paul Keating, and analyses Kevin Rudd's many layered effort to out-manoeuvre the Prime Minister.

"The Lucky Country finally started to make its own luck, and Howard has taken out a political monopoly on it. The Frightened Country still harbours dark anxieties, some old and some new. Howard, the necromancer of our national psyche, conjures our fears to frighten us, and then offers to banish them again to soothe us. He understands the Bipolar Nation." —Peter Hartcher, Bipolar Nation

Buy the eBook

Amazon Kindle

Apple iBookstore

Google Play




This issue also contains correspondence relating to the previous issue QE24 No Fixed Address by Robyn Davidson. Correspondence relating to QE25 Bipolar Nation will appear in the next issue.

About the Author

Peter Hartcher is the political and international editor for the Sydney Morning Herald. He won a Gold Walkley award for his investigative series into how Australia secretly negotiated a security treaty with Indonesia, and the Citibank award for his coverage of the Asian economic crisis. He was a Walkley finalist in 1992 for an investigative account of how Paul Keating challenged Bob Hawke for the prime ministership of Australia, and again in 2003 for his analysis of the United States’ motives for the invasion of Iraq. His books include Bubble Man: Alan Greenspan and the Missing 7 Trillion Dollars, and To the Bitter End: the Dramatic Story Behind the Fall of John Howard and the Rise of Kevin Rudd.