The party will hold a leadership convention in March.
An intra-party controversy has been voiced in recent weeks about whether to guarantee affiliation labor unions a share of the votes for leader, or to operate under a “one member, one vote” principle. Apparently this has been resolved in favor of the latter (although news items earlier today had reported otherwise).
Another challenge faced by the party is that it has few members in Quebec, the province that now provides a majority of its parliamentary caucus, since the remarkable surge in the recent parliamentary elections.
Filibusters are familiar to followers of American politics. A lone senator talks into the night in order to prevent a vote on a bill. They’re not often seen in Australian houses of parliament — that’s because most houses impose limits on how long parliamentarians can speak for. Not so in NSW.
Last week, Greens MLC David Shoebridge broke a record when he addressed the NSW Legislative Council for just under six hours on the topic of Barry O’Farrell’s new industrial relations laws. All those years as a barrister came in handy. He started on Thursday evening at 6.15pm and the debate went on, carried by other windy Greens and Labor MLCs until the guillotine was dropped and debate cut on Saturday morning. Those voting for the bill didn’t have much to contribute to the debate.
Although I am pleased to note that Shoebridge had to actually talk on his feet rather than notify the leader of the government in the council that he might talk for a really, really long time if he didn’t get everything he wanted. Immediately. And a pony.
The US Senate filibuster is famous. Is there ever a democratic case for a supermajority in a legislative body? Could it be made more rational than the US filibuster in its present incarnation? Denmark lets a legislative minority impose a referendum. I am quite attracted to the ‘filibuster’ provision in the UN Charter.
Each member of the General Assembly shall have one vote.
Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include: recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, the election of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, the election of the members of the Economic and Social Council, the election of members of the Trusteeship Council in accordance with paragraph 1 (c) of Article 86, the admission of new Members to the United Nations, the suspension of the rights and privileges of membership, the expulsion of Members, questions relating to the operation of the trusteeship system, and budgetary questions.
Decisions on other questions, including the determination of additional categories of questions to be decided by a two-thirds majority, shall be made by a majority of the members present and voting.
The Los Angeles Times ran an interview on 28 March with Daniel Ben-Simon, one of the leaders of what is left of the Israeli Labor Party. His perspectives on the demise of this once-great party are interesting. He goes so far as to say it became a “Prostitution Party,” so much did it betray its principles in the pursuit of cabinet portfolios.
I found the most interesting aspect to be his comments on a possible merger with Kadima.
In 2010, Greens won their first seat in each of two of Her Majesty’s Realms (UK and Australia*). Could Canada’s Greens follow suit in 2011?
The Globe and Mail today has an interview with party leader Elizabeth May, who has relocated across the country from Nova Scotia, where she ran last time. This time she is the party’s candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands, in British Columbia.
She explains the politics behind the move:
On the political side the Green Party decided after the 2008 election that perhaps they’d made a mistake not making my riding a priority. … The party had an epiphany … the council members were saying “good heavens, we did so well in this election, we got one million votes and all we’re getting is abuse … people are saying we didn’t elect the leader, but we weren’t even trying to elect the leader!” It was kind of a thought bubble that stayed dangling over the room while people started thinking, “Why didn’t we try to elect the leader? …”
I said you have to do some research … and Saanich-Gulf Islands emerged in every analysis as the place in the country where more voters were … excited about, in large numbers, the idea of electing the leader of the Green Party.**
In 2008 in the riding (district) the Conservative MP Gary Lunn was reelected with 43.4% over Liberal candidate Briony Penn, on 39.4%. The Green candidate, Andrew Lewis, came in third with 10.5%.
The Greens actually did far better in 2008 in several ridings in Ontario, even coming in second in one or two. But their research said this BC riding was the one to go for, and May claims (though take this with a grain of salt) that their own internal polling says it’s a two-candidate race between her and Lunn.
* Referring here to single-seat contests in the House of Representatives. They had held seats for a while in the PR-elected Senate.
** All ellipses in the quoted passage are in the original, except for the last one of the first paragraph.
It’s official, the Green Party has “won” the Baden-Wurttemberg state assembly election today. It won 24.2%, nearly doubling its showing of 12.5% in the last election. Via DW:
“It’s a dream come true… we could never have dreamed of a result like this a few days ago,” said Franz Untersteller, a Green party spokesman.
To say the Greens “won” with less than 25% is, of course, in need of some qualification, given that this does not even make them the plurality party. That would be the Christian Democrats (CDU), on 39%. However, the Greens edged out the Social Democrats (23.1%), and the “Green-Red” combo thus has a majority. That means the Greens will have the premiership in the new coalition government.
The CDU’s partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), just held on to their place in the assembly, with 5.3%.
In neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate, the FDP fell below the 5% threshold and thus will not be in the assembly. There the incumbent SPD lots its majority (36.1), but the Greens won 15.1% (up by 10.5 points), making a Red-Green coalition the most likely result there.
As noted previously, the Green surge owes much to the Fukushima effect.
The state assembly election this Sunday in Baden-Württemberg has a decent chance to result in Germany’s first state premier from the Green Party.
The state has been led by the Christian Democrats, the party of German federal Chancellor (PM) Angela Merkel, for nearly 60 years. The party has slid in polls nationally recently, down to around 33%, according to Spiegel. Among the issues contributing to the slide, in addition to a plagiarist ex-minister, is the government’s stance on nuclear power. It recently announced a temporary shutdown of seven nuclear reactors in response to the Fukushima crisis. In Baden-Württemberg, the political problem for premier Stefan Mappus and his CDU is even especially acute:
Mappus’ problems, however, go beyond his party’s sinking numbers nationwide. The Baden-Württemberg governor, after all, has long been a firm, even boisterous, supporter of nuclear energy. Last year, as Merkel’s government was preparing legislation to extend the lifespans of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors, Mappus even went so far as to hint that Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen — a CDU party ally — should resign due to his reluctance to support the extension.
The combined Green-Social Democratic vote could be larger than that of the CDU and its partner the Free Democratic party.
Current polls show that even though the CDU can still count on 38 percent support on Sunday, it may not be enough to keep Mappus in power. His current coalition partners, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), stand at 6 percent in the polls. The Social Democrats and the Green Party, for their part, add up to 47 percent support — three points ahead of the CDU-FDP alliance — with recent Green gains suggesting it may be possible that the party could claim the state’s governorship.* It that happens, it would be a first for the Greens in Germany.
The Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) are close in the poll, at 25% and 22%, respectively; the Green gain is 5 points in the past week (The Local).
The Green Party’s strength is not only due to Fukushima, as it has been gaining for months due to its leading of the opposition to a controversial redevelopment project in Stuttgart, the state capital.
If the Greens pass the SPD and the SPD-Green combo is greater than the CDU-FDP combo, the Green leader could become premier. That’s two “ifs” and both races are close. This will be one to watch.
Aside from some municipalities, is there a government anywhere that has been led by a Green chief executive?
* Contrary to Spiegel, I prefer “premiership,” as that captures the fact that the state executive emerges from and is dependent upon the assembly majority.
The implosion of the Irish government, and the main party in the governing coalition, Fianna Fail, has been quite a spectacle.
After narrowly surviving an internal leadership battle, Taoiseach (PM) Brian Cowen saw five of his own party’s cabinet ministers resign. Shortly thereafter, Cowen himself resigned–as party leader. It is very unusual in parliamentary democracies for the leader of the main party in government not to be the PM, but for the first time in the history of the Fianna Fail, the usual governing party in Ireland, that is now the case.
How long this anomaly can last–if it can even go till the now-scheduled 11 March general election–is anyone’s guess. Elections may have to be moved up, now that the main coalition partner, the Green Party, has pulled its support.
The state of New York has an unusual provision whereby minor parties that obtain ballot status may endorse candidates of other parties. A cross-endorsed candidate’s votes from the various ballot lines are added together. This system allows a minor party to demonstrate just how many votes it has contributed to a candidate’s total.
Following the 2010 elections, there are some changes in which parties qualify, and in their order on the ballot, the WSJ reports.
The big winners were the Green Party, which will be listed on ballots for the next four years, and the Conservative Party, which seized the No. 3 spot on ballots, behind Democrats and Republicans, also for the next four years.
A party needs to tally at least 50,000 votes in the governor’s race to be guaranteed a spot on ballots and avoid having to petition for them.
In 2010, the Greens had their own candidate for Governor, while the Conservatives contributed 232,263 votes to losing Republican candidate Carl Paladino.
The Working Families Party, a left-leaning minor party closely tied to the Democratic Party, also moved up, keeping its spot behind the Conservative Party. Plagued by investigation, the party saved its automatic ballot spot with 154,857 votes. Democratic winner Andrew Cuomo at first didn’t accept the party’s endorsement, then didn’t actively try to bolster it.
The Independence Party slipped to the third highest ballot spot for minor parties, attracting 146,646 votes for Cuomo, its cross-endorsed candidate.
The ballot format has changed, in a way in which the chairman of the Independence Party says will make the position on the ballot less important.
Now, all choices are on a single sheet for a voter to mark a choice, compared to the old mechanical machines, where a voter had to keep looking down a column to see the minor parties.
A Taxpayer’s Party, which Paladino created to help attract “tea party” voters obtained only about 20,000 of them and thus will not have a ballot line. Some others also missed out, inlcuding:
the Rent Too Damn High Party, which got attention for the performance of its candidate, Jimmy McMillan, including being parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” Also barely missing was the Libertarian Party, which attracted 48,386 for its candidate, Warren Redlich, who made a strong impression in the only televised debate.
The article mentions that the Green candidate was also in the debate. Imagine that, debates involving more than two candidates!
Irish Taoiseach (PM) Brian Cowen has announced that parliament will be dissolved following the passage of the upcoming austerity budget necessitated by the current financial crisis. The move became inevitable once the Green Party, coalition partners to Cowen’s Fianna Fail, demanded early elections. Cowen is also facing calls for his resignation from backbenchers of his own party.
Passing that budget will not be easy. In addition to the Green Party, the government also relies on several independent members, some of whom have said they may not vote for it. Just to complicate things yet further, the government is facing a by-election in a seat in Donegal South West.
And a recent poll of national voting intentions has Fianna Fail about as low as it has ever been, while Fine Gael and Labour are running higher than they have scored at just about any election. The Greens might fail to win a seat, and Sinn Fein is doing better than usual. The financial crisis might lead to quite a political shake-up.
Not surprisingly, Green support is heavily urban. However, I might not have expected it to fall off as precipitously as it does in most states. There are a couple of cases where it ticks back up somewhat in the suburbs, such as Western Australia and New South Wales. Perhaps those who know Australia can explain.
One comment to Simon’s post says, “It really contrasts how different the inner city left is to the suburban left. I think it is almost impossible for a single party to appeal to both.”
I think it is becoming almost impossible for one party to represent these two constituencies in the USA as well (though here the potential Green base would not be exactly “inner-city,” due to differences in urban demography). Nonetheless, we Americans are still asked to pretend that one party can represent these different “lefts.”
On a related note, I’m still undecided on whether to vote Green or Brown with my non-transferable vote in just over two weeks’ time. And I’m really far from any urban core, out here where folks apparently really like their tea.
Over 3,500 candidates had applied for party ticket for the 403 seats after depositing a particular fee. They were also asked to take life membership of the party magazine “Samajwadi Bulletin”, the sources said.
The question came up because Julia Gillard, the current PM of Australia, replaced a co-partisan PM between elections, and Alan noted that her predecessor was the third out of the last ten so replaced. At the time I pointed out that 3 out of 10 was precisely the rate at which PMs in parliamentary systems overall are dismissed by their own parties. More precisely, we found that 30.2% of 354 PMs surveyed left office on account of internal party politics. (The remainder was about evenly split between election defeats and coalition breakdown.) So, Australia seemed “normal,” not a case where PM termination between elections was overly frequent by the comparative yardstick.
But what about compared to similar parliamentary democracies, where majority government is the norm (or at least used to be!)? That is, let’s leave out parliamentary systems where coalitions are the norm, and where perhaps some cases of intra-party conflict are really generated by the tensions of governing in coalition, and not by purely intra-party matters.
My first look at the data suggested that the rate was not much different in this subset than overall (I found 22 of 78). However, quite a few of these were coded in the detailed data as something like “Intraparty — left office voluntarily.” Now, that is clearly an intra-party replacement, so I am not second-guessing our own data coding! However, there is quite a lot of difference between a party undertaking an inter-electoral leadership change because the former PM decided on his or her own accord to leave, and a challenge to a sitting leader who goes involuntarily.
So let’s look at things again, with cases of “voluntary” departure relegated to a residual category.
Now things look rather different. There are only nine of 78 PMs in Westminster systems who leave for reasons that might be termed intra-party conflict. That’s 11.5%, which I have to agree is a good deal less than 3 of 10!
What about in the non-Westminster cases? We should also remove the “voluntary” departures from this subset. When we do, we are left with about 24% leaving due to intra-party conflict in the entire parliamentary data. In the non-Westminster subset, it’s 28%.
So there you have it. Roughly one eighth of Westminster PMs leave due to intra-party conflict, compared to well over a quarter of non-Westminster PMs. That seems pretty significant. And I thank Alan for prompting me to look deeper at the data!
The countries taken as “Westminster” for the purposes of this exercise, and their own rate of dismissals for intra-party reasons, are:
New Zealand (1/12)***
Sri Lanka (0/10 during its parliamentary regime)
The real question, of course, would be to break down majority vs. coalition (and minority) governments, not Westminster vs. non-Westminster. But the two categories are quite closely aligned.
Obviously, another big difference across parliamentary subtypes is in the percentage of PMs who leave office due to electoral defeat. Elections account for about a third of all parliamentary PM terminations, but 48.1% (38 of 79) in these Westminster systems. Electoral defeat is what we might expect to be the most common mechanism of PM termination in a Westminster system, of course. Just as obviously, inter-party conflict is almost never a cause of PM termination in Westminster systems: just five PMs in India and one in Bangladesh left for such reasons. (Perhaps we could add Whitlam, in Australia, who is coded as an “other” due to his dismissal by the Governor General, but the underlying reason for conflict was his lack of support in the second chamber.)
* This was before Rudd’s forced resignation.
** The Indian case is Desai, who headed the unwieldy (and not very Westminster) anti-Congress coalition that collapsed in 1979.
*** I excluded PMs in the PR era, since 1996. Since then, our dataset has only Shipley, who served out her term. We could add Clark, who also survived to see electoral defeat. The two of them would leave NZ, through 2008, at 1/14.
Australia’s Labor and Green parties have reached a support agreement. The Greens won their first House of Representatives seat at the recent election. One seat, out of 150, on over 11% of first-preference votes.
One of the provisions of the agreement is that Green Senator Bob Brown will reintroduce as a Private Members Bill the Commonwealth Electoral (Above-the-Line Voting) Amendment Bill 2008. The Labor party “will consider” the bill. Among other provisions, this bill would allow voters who vote for a party ticket in Senate elections, rather than rank their preferences across all candidates running, to rank the parties in order of preference.
The agreement also includes several proposed reforms to parliamentary procedure, including guaranteeing minor parties the right to ask questions of the Prime Minister no later than the sixth question during Question Time. It further stipulates that the parties acknowledge that any of the Green’s policies for the 2010 election can be brought forward for discussion in parliament. Greens will receive Treasury briefings. There will be a “well resourced Climate Change Committee.”
All in all, a very fine agreement. There is just one catch: the Labor and Green parties remain short of a majority in the House by three seats. There are four independents, whose votes could still give the Coalition (of Liberals and Nationals) a majority if they choose to swing that direction.
The Labor and Green parties appear to have combined for over 49% of the first-preference votes, compared to around 44% for the Coalition. Yet Labor and Greens have just under 49% of the seats, despite the use of a “majoritarian” electoral system (and one that is often taken as a model here in the USA), and despite the fact that the electoral swing from Labor to the Greens was greater than that to the Coalition.
(All claims about the partisan breakdown of first-preference votes need to be taken cautiously until all votes are counted, but the pattern of swing is clear.)
The chances that Colombia would become the first country to elect a Green chief executive–as numerous polls had said was likely–dimmed dramatically after the outcome of Sunday’s first round.
Juan Manuel Santos of the party most closely affiliated with outgoing incumbent President Alvaro Uribe, came close to an outright win. He scored 46.6%, to a distant 21.5% for Green candidate Antanas Mockus.
Polls in recent weeks had tended to put the two candidates close, in the mid thirties percent range, and generally had Mockus winning the runoff, which will be on 20 June.
However, with that large a lead, there is only the slimmest of chances that Mockus could ultimately win.
I always expected Santos’s support within the “political class,” and the ability of rural leaders to mobilize votes for the more establishment candidate, would pull Santos through. But I had no expectation that he would be so close to 50% in the first round, or so far ahead of Mockus.
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