Midterm congressional and local elections are held today in the Philippines. Opposition candidates are expected to do well–as is often the case with midterm elections in presidential systems.
You have to love the first paragraph of this morning’s LA Times story:
Lured by ladies’ underwear, herring, free insurance and other gifts, millions of voters cast ballots today in a midterm election the opposition hopes will strengthen efforts to impeach President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
I don’t know about you, but I’d vote for the candidate offering the herring.
Most of the seats in the lower house of congress are elected by FPTP. The Senate is elected nationwide by multiple nontransferable vote (MNTV, sometimes miseladingly known as bloc vote). The Philippines is notorious for its weak parties and personalized campaigns. The article refers to one candidate, Manny Pacquiao, a former World Boxing Council super featherweight. He is running on the Peoples Champ Movement, which is offering free insurance policies.
The House Speaker, Jose de Valencia is under investigation for vote-buying, which his lawyer defended as follows in a letter to the National Election Commission:
There is nothing illegal, much less an act of vote-buying, in the distribution of the cards [for insurance] because they are given to party members who are already captive voters.
Despite polls showing opposition strength, don’t count out President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats Party, or her allies in Team Unity, just yet.
About two months ago, I posed the question, will Karzai veto the Jihadis’ amnesty bill? It was a reference to a bill to provide a sweeping amnesty to former fighters in Afghanistan’s decades of fighting, passed by a congress largely dominated by former fighters themselves. President Hamid Karzai opposed the amnesty, as did international aid organizations. With his office having the constitutional authority to veto legislation, it seemed unlikely that the legislators’ act would be the final word. (A veto takes two thirds to override, although my reading of the constitution is that the override vote takes place only in the lower house, notwithstanding the bicameral nature of the Afghanistani congress.)
Indeed, congress did not have the final word. But that is not to say that Karzai vetoed the bill. Instead, he recommended amendments to some provisions, and congress passed a new bill that incorporated his suggestions–or some of then; details are sketchy in the several sources I consulted. Deep within an LA Times story, it is noted:
[Karzai's] office managed to add the provision about an individual’s right to file charges, amending what was virtually a blanket amnesty.
Separation of powers at work.
In previous discussions, I have noted how unrepresentative the Afghan congress is, given that it was elected in a purely candidate-based system (single nontransferable vote), with no party labels, and with a very high rate of wasted votes. A recent item in The Economist picks up on the theme of the party-less legislative process, and notes that parties are now forming from within the congress.
IN THE 18 months since it was elected, Afghanistan’s first democratic legislature has been in a peculiar limbo: it is a parliament without parties. Candidates were not allowed to declare party affiliations on the ballot paper. The result has been a chaotic parliament of individuals, often elected on the promise of patronage and by virtue of ethnic affiliation. The parliament has criticised the increasingly isolated president, Hamid Karzai. But its positive achievements have been few.
Now change is stirring. Several alliances with sketchy political platforms are being mooted. The first of these, the National Unity Front, was unveiled in March by a group of parliamentarians and members of the government. It proposes various constitutional reforms, including electing provincial governors directly and creating a new post of prime minister in order to curb the power of the president. The Front denies wanting to be an opposition party, promising to work alongside the government in pursuit of “national unity”. [read full article]
Both of these developments represent advances for the constitutional and legislative processes in that war-torn country.
With the Afghan congress having passed an amnesty bill, all eyes are on President Karzai as he considers whether to issue a veto. The Afghan presidency has a veto on legislation that can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote in eachthe lower house of congress.*
The bill passed the upper house with more than a 75% support (50-16). However, despite considerable searching on both Google and Lexis Nexis, I was unable find a report of the vote in the lower house, except that it was by “majority” (obviously). Thus I am uncertain whether the lower house would have the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto.
I did, however, find an interesting transcript of a debate on Afghan Aina TV (via BBC Monitoring Service, 21 Feb., 2007), including this remark in support of the bill by Haji Abda, an MP from Balkh Province. The Moderator asked about international–specifically Human Rights Watch–opposition to the bill. The MP responded:
Those friends believe that jihadi leaders do not have a suitable status and are rights violators. When one looks at the election results, you will see how much respect these jihadi leaders enjoy amongst the people. When these objectors are asked as to how they entered parliament, then the problem will automatically be resolved. Those who entered parliament with majority of votes mean that the people elected them, but they say the people do not want them. If the people did not want them, why they voted for them?
I can’t deny the MP’s claim that the warlords and Jihadis and their allies who have seats are personally popular. But, of course, the idea that Jihadis in the Afghan parliament have majority support is a bit suspect, given the low turnout, and the small votes shares members received, thanks to the SNTV electoral system.
Abda himself won a whopping 3.7% of the vote in Balkh, where he was sixth of ten candidates elected. More than two thirds of the votes cast in Balkh did not go towards the election of any candidate.
* Apparently, while both houses must give their approval before a bill is presented to the president for his signature or veto, an override vote takes place only in the lower house. At least that is how I read the provisions on legislation in the constitution:
Article 94 [Legislation, Veto, Qualified Vote]
(1) Law is what both Houses of the National Assembly approve and the President endorses unless this Constitution states otherwise.
(2) In case the President does not agree to what the National Assembly approves, he or she can send the document back with justifiable reasons to the House of Representatives [Wolesi Jirga] within fifteen days of its submission.
(3) With the passage of this period or in case the House of Representatives [Wolesi Jirga] approves a particular case again with a majority of two-thirds votes, the bill is considered endorsed and enforced.
Thailand may be about to violate a near-iron law of electoral-system change: that no country, having abandoned a multi-seat nontrnasferable-vote (NTV) electoral system ever reverts to such a system. *
In its 1997 constitution, adopted in the wake of a serious political and financial crisis, Thailand replaced its MNTV system (M>1 seats in a district, each voter casting up to M votes, and top M vote-earners elected) with a mixed-member majoritarian (MMM) system. Under the MMM system, 400 MPs were elected in single-seat districts and the other 100 in parallel via closed-list, national-district PR.
Since shortly after last year’s military coup, there has been a constitutional re-drafting process underway. It appears the Thai drafters are about to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.
On 9 February, The Nation (a major Bangkok paper) noted:
The party-list MPs and single-MP constituency elections will be scrapped, the constitution drafting subcommittee chaired by Charan Pakdithanakul ruled yesterday.
In other words, not only will there be no MMM system and no national party-list PR tier, but there will also be a return to NTV. This could mean a reversion to the old system of MNTV, or it could even mean SNTV. Either way, it would be quite a regression from a system that was helping build parties out of the weak regional and personal vehicles that existed previously. It would bring Thailand back to a system that exacerbated some of the worst features of Thai politics.
The reasoning is ironic. From the same news article:
The main reason for scrapping the party-list MPs is because the system allows capitalists to rise to power through money politics.
Of course, in a capitalist system the capitalists are sure to have political power, but putting that aside, is money politics worse with party lists than with NTV? The old system, and its counterparts wherever they have been used (Japan, Colombia, Taiwan, etc.), requires candidates to raise large sums of money to differentiate themselves from other candidates, including candidates using the same party label. (The differentiation premium is stronger with SNTV, because of the indivisibility of each voter’s support and the need that a party has to ensure its votes are distributed efficiently across multiple candidates if it is to be able to elect more than one in a district; however, the problem exists with MNTV as well, for not all voters will use all their votes, or cast all of them for candidates of the same party. In its favor, SNTV makes the representation of minorities much easier than does MNTV.)
There is little doubt that in systems with weak parties, such as Thailand, parties can literally sell list slots for campaign cash and guarantee victory to the buyer (assuming the lists are closed, as they were in Thailand). I assume this is where the claim that party lists promoted money politics has come from. However, to assess the impact of an electoral system, we must not compare its effects against those of a perfect world in which all corruption has been eliminated, but rather to what other systems will do in the same context. That Thai leaders already have experienced what NTV does and yet are ready to revert to such a system shows either shocking lack of memory or shocking contempt for democratic development.
The MMM system was far from perfect. In fact, in one sense, it worked too well. It buttressed the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Its disproportionality gave TRT a huge bonus in seats compared to its votes total,** while the closed lists (and to a lesser degree, the single- rather than multi-seat districts) greatly centralized intra-party authority. However, given the extreme fragmentation–across and within parties–under the pre-1997 system, this was what was needed.
If the MMM system overshot its goals, by strengthening TRT too much at the expense of its rivals (on the interparty dimension) and the TRT leadership at the expense of its rank and file (the intraparty dimension), then the possible solutions would be really simple:
1. Expand the size of the list tier as a share of the total number of seats.
2. Link the tiers, that is changing to (or towards) MMP rather than MMM.
3. Regionalize the party list rather than have a single national district for this tier.
4. Make the list open (or flexible) rather than closed.
Any one of these would have moved the system in the desired direction on at least one of the two dimensions, and these solutions are not mutually exclusive, meaning two or all of them could have been employed together. One need not go all the way back to the party-debilitating NTV system of the past. Alas, it looks Thailand will break an iron law.
* I just noticed that in an earlier planting, I had spoken of a potential Mongolian breaking of this “law,” as well. Mongolian had gone from MNTV to FPTP. AS I discuss here, Thailand had gone farther from MTNV by adopting closed party lists as well as FPTP.
** In 2001, 49.6% of seats on 40.6% of votes; in 2005, 75% of the seats on 56.4% of the vote (thanks to its winning 310 of the 400 SSDs).
Colombia’s Senator Alvaro Araujo made headlines this past week when he was arrested for suspicion of ties to paramilitaries involved in the drug trade.
Over at Steven Taylor’s new Colombian politics blog, I asked whether the Senator was a â€œlist pullerâ€ (i.e. lots of preference votes) or trailer. That is, might we infer whether he was elected because of, or in spite of, his allies?
In 2006, the first election in Colombia using a list PR system* (with parties having the option of presenting open or closed lists), Araujo was elected on the (open) list of the Movimiento Alas Equipo Colombia (quite a name). As has been widely reported, this party was indeed one of several that President Alvaro Uribe endorsed prior to the 2006 elections.
The list won 439,678 votes, and 20% of these were cast just for the list. Alvaro Araujo Castro won 66,234, the second highest total of any of the party’s candidates and 15.1% of the party total. (Oscar Suarez Mira won 15.3% and no other candidate had more than 7.7%.) The party elected five senators.
Looks like Araujo was the very definition of a list-puller.
In fact, Araujo was one of the most popular candidates in the election. His preference vote total was the 11th highest across all parties in the nationwide district and his share of his own list’s preference votes was the 7th highest of all candidates across all parties.
He was also elected to the senate in 2002, when the electoral system was essentially SNTV. That is, rather than run on party lists, each legislator was elected on a “personal list” based on how many votes he or she obtained as a candidate.** In that election, Araujo won 77,891 votes, the 16th highest in the 100-seat national district.
This, of course, does not “prove” that his drug and paramilitary ties bought him votes, but it sure doesn’t look like the connection hurt him.
There have been several members of the current Colombian congress arrested or implicated. If someone can provide this lazy blogger with their names, I will look them up in my data files.
* For details, just click on “Colombia” at the top of the post and scroll. The elections were last March, and before and after I posted quite a bit on the reformed electoral system and its impact.
* * There were a few exceptions, where one of these lists obtained enough votes to elect more than one candidate, but the vast majority were elected as the only winning candidate on their own list.
Only early returns are in from Iran’s local council and Assembly of Experts elections. In fact, results are delayed due to problems with the computerized counting process. Fortunately, Iranian electoral authorities know how to count paper ballots by hand. But I digress…
It is already apparent that supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have suffered some key setbacks. In the Tehran race for Experts seats, the man whom Ahmadinejad defeated for president in June, 2005, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has about twice the votes of Mohamad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is seen as both a political mentor of Ahmadinejad and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. (As noted in my previous discussion, the Experts choose the next Supreme Leader whenever the incumbent dies or otherwise cannot continue.)
Rafsanjani, considered a conservative before Ahmadinejad came onto the scene, was backed by reformists including ex-president Mohammad Khatami and apparently also was favored by the Supreme Leader.
Additionally, candidates backed by Ahmadinejad appear to have lost control of the Tehran municipal council, winning only two of fifteen seats.
Even though Iran is no democracy, at least one thing about the result is consistent with interpretations that will be familiar to Americans and others: The President denies that the outcome is in any way a reflection on his administration.
The results for the one national body at stake in these elections need to be treated with caution. Each province serves as a multi-seat district for the Assembly of Experts, and the electoral system is multiple nontransferable vote (MNTV). Under MNTV, the voter may cast up to as many votes as there are seats at stake in the district and the winners are simply the candidates with the most votes. There are no party lists to pool votes from a popular “party” leader to allied candidates, and there are effectively no parties, although there are loose party-like groupings. Despite the wide disparity in votes between Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi, both will be elected in Tehran, and it is thus far not entirely clear what the balance of allies of either man will be in Tehran’s Experts delegation.
Mesbah-Yazdi is in sixth place out of sixteen seats. The wide disparity between the two leaders is itself an indicator that most voters do not cast the full number of votes available to them. This is typical of MNTV systems, even with lower magnitude, but imagine the task for the voter when there are sixteen votes that he or she may cast, and candidate names are not organized on the ballot by party or even with party names beside them! Thus we can infer little from gap in votes between Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi about the overall balance, even in Tehran, let alone in the twenty-seven other districts (which range in magnitude from one to eight). However, Reuters India suggests that Mesbah-Yazdi’s favored candidates did not do so well:
Two candidates, identified by clerics as Mesbah-Yazdi allies, were out of the running in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency said. Three Mesbah-Yazdi supporters lost in other regions though at least one was known to have secured a seat.
Some of Ahmadinejad’s strongest support is in the provinces, so Mesbah-Yazdi allies probably have won elsewhere, and, as noted above, many of these provinces have low magnitude and thus may not have elected Rafsanjani allies.
Whatever the final outcome, the change in control of the Tehran city council and the strong showing in the Tehran Experts race by Rafsanjani clearly shows the limits of Ahmadinejad’s support within even the narrowly representative Iranian political class. If the “conference” on the Shoah and the repeated belligerent remarks about Israel were meant to mobilize his ultra-fundamentalist base, they appear to have backfired.
Turnout in these elections was high–apparently around sixty percent. Those who were energized were apparently the reformists, who had largely boycotted the elections of 2004 for parliament and 2005 for president.
Update: Jonathan’s discussion at The Head Heeb is well worth reading. It contains excellent detail and context, including the fascinating note that in a Majlis by-election in Tehran the winner was female trade unionist Soheila Jelodarzadeh.
By way of Andy Reynolds, one has to wonder why a country that had bad experiences with MNTV (“block vote”) and then some more bad experiences after a change to FPTP would “reform” its system to… are you ready for this…
Weird. But Andy has some great photos from his recent trip to Mongolia posted! (In addition to the linked post, he has another, earlier post with a series of photos.)
In a post otherwise about the Texas redistricting case, Rob Ritchie at the FairVote Blog sees a bright side:
Other news out of Texas shows the path we must ultimately tread. Just yesterday the College Regents of Amarillo voted unanimously to settle a federal voting rights case by adopting cumulative voting for its future elections. Cumulative voting is a proportional voting system that allows more than one political grouping to elect a representative in the same constituency.
The statement after “that” in the last sentence is valid, of course. But if cumulative voting is the “path we must ultimately tread” it’s a path to the 19th, rather than 21st, century. In no sense is cumulative voting a form of proportional representation. No classification of electoral systems by any reputable scholar in the field would ever make such a claim, and the sooner electoral reformers stop conflating cumulative voting–which has numerous pathologies that I won’t get into now–with PR, the more they will advance the real cause of fair and proportional elections.
Cumulative voting, like its close cousins SNTV and MNTV, deserves to lie in the dustbin of electoral-system concepts from the pre-party and pre-proportionality era.
I want to pick up here on comments to two of my post-election analyses of Colombia.
Rici noted that what really mattered for the exclusion of paramilitary-affiliated candidates was not the change from single nontransferable vote (SNTV) to list PR, per se, but “list discipline.” I agree. The point is that the new electoral system made possible what was previously almost impossible: the exercise of control by party leaders over who could be elected–precisely what Rici means, I assume, by “list discpline.” The previous system, as with all SNTV systems, made the equivalent to list discipline nearly impossible. The threshold for election with SNTV is very low (often in practice well under 1/2M, where M is the district magnitude–and lower the more candidates there are in the running).
While parties could control who used their own labels somewhat under SNTV, if they wanted to (the major parties in Colombia tended not to do so), parties under SNTV cannot keep candidates with name recognition and resources from being elected. That is, such candidates often can get themselves elected, even if they do not have the formal endorsement of an established party.
Japanese parties, including the long-ruling LDP, knew this: often “independents” denied the party endorsement would win anyway. Under party lists, on the other hand (open or closed), parties must present lists with a finite number of candidates, and they have the legal authority to decide who may and may not bear the party label.*i.e. they can exercise “list discipline.” Moreover, given the threshold (2% in the Senate, and half a simple quota in a House district), and the d’Hondt allocation formula (which slightly favors larger parties), prospects for election without a recognized party label are reduced, compared to under SNTV (more so in the Senate than in the House).
It is true, as Rici notes, that parties had to have the organizational will to exert list dicipline–and in his comment, he makes some very interesting observations about how interparty competition within uribismo might have facilitated this. What I was highlighting is that, given the will, list PR made is feasible to exercise this discipline over who ran with the party label, in a way that SNTV did not.
Colombia’s list proliferation is just an extreme example of a standard SNTV problem: the priority the system puts on personal over party criteria in elections, and the extremely low threshold for winning a seat.
Steven Taylor addresses the latter point when he notes the rise in effective number of parties over time in Colombia–from under three (in seats) in the early 1990s to 3.5 in 1998 and over nine in 2002–and says that this shows there was more to list proliferation than SNTV. Of course, that is true. There was a tremendous proliferation of labels in 2002. But this demonstrates precisely the problem: With such a low threshold, candidates with local name recognition and resources effectively could get themselves elected, without any endorsement from a party. What changed leading up to 2002 was that fewer of these candidates chose to run under Liberal or Conservative labels, and instead adopted their own labels. The reason from that is outside the electoral system–principally, the disintegration of the Liberal party once Uribe left it and decided to run as an independent rather than seek his old party’s primary nomination.
I like the term “personal list” to describe the old Colombian system. In fact, I like it so much that, as far as I know, I invented it! However, if no list obtained enough votes to have both a simple quota (1/M) and be in the running for one of the largest remainders, the effect is identical to pure SNTV: the winners are the candidates heading the M lists with the M highest vote totals. The tendency for virtually every list to elect only one candidate–and therefore not to be a list in any meaningful electoral sense–was not new in 2002. It was very much the case in 1998 and 1994, too. The difference was that more lists in those years bore one of the main party labels, whereas in 2002, more bore new labels.
On candidate proliferation and narrow margins in SNTV more generally, aside from the large literature on Japan, see my post-election analysis of Afghanistan, which shared the feature of 2002 Colombia: weak (or virtually non-existant) parties, making it almost a pure personal electoral system.
*Brazil used to be a partial exception to this; there was a provision called “birthright candidate” by which a politician, once elected, was entitled to be renominated. This is no longer the case, and even when it was in effect, parties that wanted to exercise list discipline (the PT, for example) were able to do so. They key is that most parties chose not to. The threshold for election is very low in Brazil, so many of these candidates could have been elected on another party’s list even if their previous party declined to renominate them. In this regard, Brazil’s open-list PR was more like SNTV in its operation than other list-PR systems, including Colombia’s new system (or Brazil’s now).
UPDATE: Isacson, at Plan Colombia and Beyond, has a rather different take than the El Tiempo story I referenced in this post, as well as some information that partially answers a question raised in the comments.
As I would have expected, evidence from the Colombian election points to a reduction in the influence of ‘paramilitary’ forces in the new congress. Under the former system, anyone with money and local influence and connections (and, in the case of paras, guns), could launch his own “personal” list. As I have explained before in posts here on Colombia, as well as in my published research, this former system functioned essentially as the single nontransferable vote (SNTV), and gave individual candidates’ own efforts and resources a much greater role in determining the composition of congress than it gave party leaders.
The new system, as a party-list proportional system, gives party leaders far more sway over candidacies, even in those parties that opt for an open list, thereby letting the vote-earning attributes and efforts of individual politicians determine which candidates get elected from within the list. In the run-up to the elections, several candidates in various parties were removed from the list when paramilitary connections were revealed–something that could not have happened under the old SNTV system. Others remained on lists, but failed to be elected, owing to the higher number of personal votes required to be elected under open list, compared to SNTV.
Various congress members who in 2002 gained significant votes in zones of major presence of Autodefensas werre left outside this time.
The article notes that some were elected, especially on some of the regional party lists in the chamber. But it appears that overall, the electoral system is helping Colombia cope with one of its most important challenges.
The vote count is not yet complete in Colombia, but some of the results are clear enough for a preliminary report.
The various parties supporting President Uribe have won a comfortable majority in the Senate (and apparently also the House). However, El Tiempo is not quite correct when it says:
por primera vez, un partido distinto al liberal y al conservador obtuvo la mayorÃa en el Senado.
Not to downplay the significance of a political force other than Liberal or Conservative controlling the congress for the first time ever, but it is not “un partido.” It is several parties, sharing support for Uribe, but disagreeing on much else. If they were in greater agreement they would have run as, well, un partido, rather than as five major national parties and several smaller ones. Granted that many of the differences among the uribista lists concern less policy than allocation of patronage, it is important to recognize how the new electoral system changed incentives in this regard.
Under the old (de-facto) SNTV system, a political force could gain more seats by breaking up into multiple lists within the same district than it could obtain by presenting one. That is not the case now. Under the d’Hondt formula of PR, there is a small advantage to larger lists, and a political force can never gain more seats with multiple lists than it could obtain with one.
Moreover, most lists were open, meaning candidates or groups of candidates (i.e. factions) within a party could compete amongst themselves over who obtained the party’s seats, while still pooling their votes to the collective benefit of uribismo (or any other political force).
That the various strands of uribismo chose not to present one open list per district, but rather several lists (usually open) under distinct labels indicates that they have different collective purposes, as well as personal and patronage ambitions. So, while it is indeed a historic moment for Colombia that a political force distinct from the traditional Liberal or Conservative parties now will hold a majority, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this will be a coalition of parties, rather than a single (factionalized) party.
Even more, once Uribe is reelected, he will be a lame duck, and the jockeying for succession over the leadership of uribismo will begin. Each of the various parties that is backing Uribe will presumably prefer that one of its politicians, and not one of another uribista party, will inherit the mantle. That is, for as long as they retain their separate labels and leaderships, they will have an incentive to compete on some matters even as they cooperate to assist Uribe in using his second term to implement policy changes that they all broadly agree on.
In fact, given that these are separate parties, and that there is a two-round system to elect the president (three, if one counts partisan primaries, which not all parties conduct), it would be surprising if, in 2010, there was any acoord on a single sucessor to lead the politcal force Uribe has helped bring about. More likely, the various parties will present more than one candidate in the first round (i.e. in May, not the March primary) to compete against one another. I am almost certain that the Conservatives, at least will run their own candidate in 2010, as they are an old party with a distinct label that may be making a comeback from the brink of the partisan grave. As boz notes in the comments, it is not even clear that the broader phenomenon that we call uribismo, for lack of a better term, is distinctively “conservative” programmatically, despite its being labelled as such in many press accounts.
It appears that the breakdown of the Senate will be as follows:
Uribista (endorsed by Uribe)
Partido de la ‘U’, 20
Cambio Radical, 15
Alas Equipo Colombia, 5
Colombia DemocrÃ¡tica, 3 Uribista endorsed subtotal: 61
Pro-Uribe, but not endorsed by the President:
Convergencia Ciudadana, 7
Colombia Viva, 2
Polo DemocrÃ¡tico, 11
Indigena, 2 (special district)
That works out to an effective number of senatorial parties of 7.2. That’s a high degree of fragmentation, but let’s compare to what it was after the 2002 election, when the formerly dominant Liberal had broken up, in part because of the defection of Uribe from their ranks, and the SNTV system was in use. After that election, the effective number of parties represented in the senate was 9.3. And that 9.3 was greater than the effective number of parties by votes, 8.9. It is very rare for the effective number of parties by seats to be greater than by votes, as that can happen only under an electoral system that over-represents smaller parties. Such is the case with simple quota and largest remainders (SQLR, which is effectively SNTV when parties aim only for the remainders and not for the quotas, by nominating so many lists that none elects more than a single candidate). In a previous post today on El Salvador, I noted how the same SQLR system (albeit without the multiple lists) over-represents the third largest party (the PCN) there.
I do not yet have votes totals for the parties in the senate*, but it is clear that the d’Hondt list-PR system and its 2% threshold have turned the system around. That is, instead of inflating fragmentation in the conversion from votes to seats, as SNTV did in 2002, it will have reduced it, as many lists failed to clear the threshold. They contribute to increasing the effective number of parties by votes, but by winning no seats, they obviously add nothing to the fragmentation of the senate itself.
I have also been watching the representation of women. It has increased in the Senate, but only marginally. By my count of the results shown by El Tiempo–and keeping in mind that these results are not final–there seem to have been twelve women elected. This is up from nine in 2002. Three of the top preference-vote-getters in El Partido de la ‘U’ were women, and the party elected six overall. Two women each were elected by the Liberals and Cambio Radical, and one each by the Polo DemocrÃ¡tico and Mira. (The woman elected by Mira was ranked no. 1 on a closed list).
The supposed “number one” or cabeza de lista for the Liberals, Cecilia LÃ³pez MontaÃ±o, was not number one in preference votes (which are all that matter in determining who is elected within an open list). In fact, she was no. 17, or last, with around 32,000 votes. The Liberal’s top vote-getter had around 120,000 (and the second elected around 62,000, nearly twice that of LÃ³pez).
Conservatives elected no women among their 15 senators, but then they had only three on their list of 51 candidates.
El Tiempo is also posting the apparent winners in the House, but I am not going to go district by district and add up the numbers until they are closer to final.
The House summary shows the Liberals with the most (around 18%) seats, followed closely by La U and Conservative, and 10% for the Polo. Over 40% of the seats were won by “others,” many of which are strictly regional lists. The effective number of parties represented in the House is almost certainly going to be higher than in the Senate, because of the regional representation.
In the two presidential primaries, Horacio Serpa has won the nomination of the Liberal party handily, though not by the margin that a poll earlier in the month had suggested he would. He is currently at around 47.8%, with the closest of his three challengers at 23.9%. The primary in the Polo DemocrÃ¡tico apparently went the reverse of the polling estimate, with Carlos Gaviria winning 53.5% against Antonio Navarro Wolff’s 46.5%. Just over a million voters participated in the Polo primary, which is only about half what El Tiempo’s pre-election poll said it would be. Perhaps Navarro has greater support among non-Polo identifiers, who could have voted in the primary had they wanted to (presidential primaries are open), but once the day came, few did so. About 2.2 million voters appear to have participated in the Liberal primary, when the poll suggested three million would. This was the first time any party other than the Liberal party had held a presidential primary.
*UPDATE: The effective number of parties receiving votes in the senate was 8.6.
The NYT finally notices.* They cite the analysis of “Jarrett Blanc, the American elections expert” (and who works with IFES, a fine organization):
The lesson is that the way a new election law turns votes into representatives â€” the fine print of election laws â€” can have as much of an impact on who will be running a country as an occupying army.
That observation has implications far beyond the Palestinian vote, particularly for countries like the United States and other Western nations that seek to promote new democracies.
Uh, yeah. That pretty much sums up the mission of the V side of F&V. The article is oriented primarily around the Hamas “landslide” and makes points about so-called bloc voting (MNTV) that legions of regular readers of F&V have known since before the election. (If you missed it, just click on “Palestine” at the top of this post, then scroll down and have fun!)
* A full week after I said precisely the same thing about the Jerusalem Post. Somtimes, even in the 21st century, news travels slowly.
I will be following the upcoming Colombian legislative elections (and, though less so, the subsequent presidential elections). The House and Senate will be elected on March 12, and this election will be Colombia’s first using a system of party-list PR* after decades of what has essentially been an SNTV system. I played a very small part in the electoral-system change, with my research on Colombia and the problems of the old electoral system, as a consultant to the Minstry of the Interior under the previous administration. If you read Spanish, see my overview in Cambio.
In light of my interest in these elections and the emerging realignment of party lines that the electoral system has helped bring about, a post at the blog, Plan Colombia and Beyond, by Adam Isacson, offers a very informative discussion of the leading figures on Colombia’s democratic left.
Colombia has long had its two traditional, elite-dominated and internally fragmented traditional parties–Liberal and Conservative–and a smattering of mostly personalistic alternatives that are divided among many different labels. The fragmentation of both the traditional parties and the alternatives was supported (I would not say caused) and deepened by the SNTV electoral system. The list system and its threshold (2% in the 100-seat national Senate district and half a simple quota in the smaller House districts) is giving the various fragmented political forces in Colombia incentives to combine into larger blocs–just as the reformers (and their consultants) intended.
Colombia already has a strong democratic right, thanks to Uribe’s “democratic security” campaign in 2002 and his popularity as President. It now needs a strong left, and that may be happening, thanks in part to Uribe providing a pole against which to organize and compete but also in part to the new electoral system’s disincentives to continuing the same sort of factionalism that has always plagued the legal left in Colombia.
Isacson’s post about the left’s leaders is from mid-January, but it just came to my attention (via a post at Democracy Arsenal, I think). Aside from being informative, the post is interesting to me at a personal level, because some of the top leaders are people I have either interviewed or who have welcomed me into their homes on past visits to their country on account of my having met them at previous academic events or through American friends.
An update to Isacson’s post is that both Antonio Navarro and Carlos Gaviria were competing for the presidential nomination, but Navarro recently dropped out. (The link is to a Reuters report, and as I explain in a comment at bloggings by boz, where I got the reference, the reporter gets one key fact wrong about the Colombian elections.) [NOTE: Navarro later "dropped back in."]
*This system is the world’s first, to my knowledge, to provide parties with the option of presenting either fully closed (in which the seats a party wins are determined by a party-provided rank order) or fully open lists (in which the seats are determined entirely by ‘preference votes’ cast for individual candidates within a list). Nearly all parties will opt for open lists. This party option on list types was not my idea. I favored a flexible list (in which parties rank candidates, but the ranking can be changed if individual candidates obtain a stipulated share of preference votes). But, at least for Colombia, I think an open list is better than a closed list, so a party option for either type is better than a requirement that lists be closed.
The extent to which the electoral system distorted the results of last week’s Palestinian legislative elections becomes all the more clear when the analysis is conducted at the district level, with the full votes for losing as well as winning candidates. The complete data also make it clear how much stronger the cohesion of Hamas voters was than was the case for Fatah voters (as I suggested prior to the election that it would be), and how dependent Fatah was on the personal vote of some of its individual candidates to win as many seats as it did.
First of all, consider the distribution of party pluralities across the districts. Using the list vote, Hamas led in eight districts and Fatah in eight. The districts vary in their magnitudes (i.e. the number of seats they elect). The eight districts in which Hamas led elect 39 of the 60 nominal-tier seats, and the districts in which Fatah led combine for 21. So, Hamas did better in the more populated districts, as would be expected from its lead in the national tier in which the list-PR seats were allocated. But the extent to which Fatah was hurt by the specific electoral system used in the local districts is striking. In two districts where Fatah had the most list votes, it managed to elect no candidates, and in two others where it led in list votes it elected fewer candidates than Hamas.
Here are the vote and seat totals in the districts in which Hamas led. Both votes percentages and seats are given as Hamas/Fatah:
(The starred districts are those in which the party that led the party list votes did not win the most seats.)
Notice that Hamas beat Fatah 35-1 in seats in the districts in which it led in the party vote, while Fatah managed only a 10-10 split of the seats in the districts where it was the leading party (other seats were won by independents).
The reason a party could run ahead of its competition in the list vote, yet fail to lead in the seat allocation lies, of course, in ticket splitting, whereby some voters give their party-list vote to one party, but cast some or all of their candidate votes for candidates of other parties (or independents).
We can analyze this phenomenon more closely by looking into the ratios of list to candidate votes for each of the leading parties. If a candidate has a personal vote, the ratio of his vote to his party’s will be greater than 1.00. If he is less popular than his party, the ratio will be less than 1.00.
In the Palestinian context, the nominal tier used an MNTV system (multi-seat plurality, with the voter allowed to cast as many votes as there are seats). So, we need to compute the ratio for the leading candidate and the last candidate (and we could do so for all a party’s candidates in a district, but let’s not get too carried away, fun though this is!).
Averaging across the 16 districts, the ratio of Hamas’s leading candidate’s votes to the party-list vote is 1.01. In other words, on average, the leading Hamas candidate obtained almost the same vote share as the party list. The lowest district ratio was .88 (Jericho) and the highest was 1.14 (Gaza). In twelve of the sixteen districts it was .95 or better.
For Fatah, on the other hand, the average ratio of the leading candidate’s vote to the party vote was .91, suggesting that Fatah candidates tended to be less popular than the party that nominated them. The lowest was .68 (Bethlehem) and the highest was 1.15 (Jericho, which elects a single member). In only four districts was it greater than 1, and in seven it was less than .90.
Taken together, these ratios reveal that Fatah’s leading candidates were less popular than the party as a whole, while those of Hamas were almost exactly as popular as the party. That fact alone tells us a lot about the extent to which this electoral system’s emphasis on individual candidates hurt Fatah. But that is not all. One of the challenges for a party under MNTV is to ensure that its voters use all their votes in the candidate races and cast them all for the party’s candidates. Voters are free to partially abstain or jump around and give some votes to candidates of one party and some to those of other parties or independents. Especially in districts that elect several members, MNTV thus poses a real challenge to a party’s candidate-recruitment and vote-mobilization efforts.
So, to determine the extent to which voters for each major party were loyal enough to give most or all of their votes to the party’s candidates, we can look at the ratio of the last candidate of the party to the party list votes in each district.
For Hamas, the ratio of the last candidate’s vote to the list vote averaged .89 across all thirteen multi-seat districts, while for Fatah it averaged .73. Two things stand out here. These figures show that there was a ballot “fall off” for both parties, either because voters got tired of marking ballots and stopped or because attractive candidates from another party pulled them away from some of their own party’s candidates. Yet note how much greater the Fatah fall off is for the last candidate. Not only did Fatah’s slate of candidates start off lower relative to its party list, but the numbers suggest a greater “tiredness” or “temptation” by other parties’ candidates for Fatah than for Hamas as voters cast (or didn’t cast) their multiple votes.
In some of the districts, the fall off for Fatah was really striking. In Jerusalem, the fourth and last Fatah candidate had just over half the votes of the Fatah list, and in Tulkarem the third and last had less than half.
This analysis underscores the extent to which Hamas had the more party-loyal electorate. They also show that Fatah had some individual candidates who were quite strong personally, or else they could not have broken through the more solid Hamas electorate. And they should remind us again that it was not the Palestinian people who gave Hamas such a sweeping victory (74-45 in seats, but only 45-41% in party votes). It was bad electoral-system design.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4