The 100-member Convention strongly favors a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system, with 69% preferring it over other options. A “proportional list system”–not clear whether open or closed was specified–wins 29% support, and a paltry 3% would like FPTP. (And, yes, those numbers sum to more than 100.)
The news story does not offer information on preferences for keeping the current system vs. change, either in general or any specific replacement system. It does note that there will be a further round of deliberations next month on the exact model that the Convention will recommend.
Ireland is, of course, the main model we have of Single Transferable Vote (STV). MMP and STV are usually the two models most preferred by reform activists (at least in current FPTP jurisdictions) and by political science expert in electoral systems. It is very interesting to see an Irish process possibly leading to STV vs. MMP as choices for the country.
In the earlier thread on my disdain for the z-word in reference to mixed-member systems, one comment (by Chris) suggested that a better term might be “Shadow MP”. The logic for this term is that this is what the district loser who wins via the list often does: “shadows” the winner as a second representative of the district. This makes sense, although the use of a term “shadow government” for the opposition in Westminster-type systems might render “shadow MP” confusing (as Alan suggested). 1
Here is a good example of actual shadowing in practice!
Jacinda Ardern (“List MP based in Auckland Central”) has her office just three houses down from that of the electorate MP, Nikki Kaye.
Kaye’s office is at the left of the photo–see the blue sign behind the parked car at the left; Ardern’s is at the red sign just beyond and to the left of the motorcyclist’s head.
Here are close-ups of the offices and signs of the two MPs.
It is interesting that in New Zealand, many legislators elected via the party list, such as Ardern, refer to themselves as “List MP for” (or “based in”) whatever the district name is. However, others simply refer to themselves on the signs at their offices as a party MP.2 Surprisingly, I did not see one sign that said “Zombie MP for…”
That is, because not all “shadow” MPs are from an opposition party; they can be from the governing party in districts won by the opposition. [↩]
The example shown at that link, Tim Groser, did contest the district as well, both in 2008 and 2011. [↩]
Colleagues who study mixed-member systems know my disdain for the term, zombie, for candidates who lose a district contest but win a list-PR seat.
In a nutshell, what I do not like about this term is how it conveys a notion that candidates who do not enter parliament via the nominal tier (winning a district individual contest) are somehow “dead” and can enter parliament only by being resurrected through the sorcery of the party-list mechanism. Oh, the horror of it!
There is nothing illegitimate about winning via the list. Nor is it desirable to have the tiers segregated. (Some mixed-member systems ban dual nomination, I realize.) To the extent that there are benefits to mixed-member (MM) systems, they come largely from the incentive of list nominees to pay attention to a locality even if they don’t emerge on top in a local contest.1 Candidates who win via the list rather than the nominal tier were not “killed” by district voters; they have won by one of the two methods that make a mixed-member system what it is–like it or not. We need a better term than the pejorative one that’s almost becoming standard. The alleged illegitimacy of dual-nominated candidates who win via the list is an empirical question, and as analysts we should avoid terminology that presupposes illegitimacy.2
A simple replacement term for ‘zombie’ is not obvious. I’ve suggested acronyms: DNLW for dual-nominated/list winner, DNDW for dual-nominated/dstrict winner, etc. But ‘DNLW’ is not as snappy as ‘zombie’ and might struggle to win acceptance.
I have thought about taking a term from the sports pages: ‘wild card’. You have your division/district winners, and then you have those who enter the playoffs/legislature despite coming second or lower in the division/district. The latter are wild card teams/candidates. However, I am not entirely serious about this “recommendation”.
I could see using something like a series of codes for nomination (N=nominal, L=list, D=dual) and then indicate with (1, 0) whether the candidate won or lost, or in the case of dual winners, whether the win was on the Nominal or List tier:
L1: List only, won
L0: List only, lost
DL: Dual nominated, won list seat
DN: Dual nominated, won nominal-tier seat
N0: Nominal tier only, lost
N1: Nominal tier only, won
I suppose convincing analysts to adopt a scheme like this does not have a high probability of prospering. But that does not mean it would not be valuable.
My goal is to develop an easy to read scheme that is analytic, not pejorative about whether one way of running and winning is more legitimate than any other.
It seems quite clear that the issue of perceived “zombie” illegitimacy comes up a great deal in Japan (where I think the term, zombie, was first used in this context) and in New Zealand (where dual-nominees who win via the list are sometimes called by the also pejorative “back door MP”. On the other hand, in Germany, the divergent paths to parliament seem to be a non-issue. Probably the alleged illegitimacy in Japan and New Zealand is a legacy issue–that these countries had pure nominal electoral systems before adopting MM, unlike Germany. [↩]
Today’s election for the state assembly of Lower Saxony, Germany, was considered too close to call as polls closed. It is regarded as one of Germany’s most important bellwethers, given the state’s large size and that its election is occurring several months before a federal election.
The state’s incumbent government mirrors the federal: a coalition of the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats. The latter party has had a string of bad results in state elections, and many pre-election polls suggested it might not pass the 5% threshold in today’s election. If it did not, the Christian Democrats (CDU) would not be able to govern except in a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD).
However, exit polls suggest the FDP has reached 9%:
Its gain was attributed to the CDU governor of the state, half-Scot David McAllister, who tacitly encouraged his supporters to split their ballot to make sure the FDP would clear the 5-percent hurdle needed to remain in parliament — a precondition for him remaining in office.
Pre-election polls had put the CDU at 42% or higher, but all those threshold-surpassing list votes for the FDP had to come from somewhere. As a result, the CDU is down to 36%, according to the exit polls.
As for the SPD, its former federal chancellor (PM), Gerhard Schröder was shown on DW-TV campaigning directly on the promise of an SPD-Green coalition. He said (paraphrasing from the translation on DW English): voters know the SPD and Greens served them well when we governed before, because the SPD took care of jobs, while the Greens took care of the environment”.
The SPD is on 32% and the Greens on 13.5%. Thus the two opposing combines have almost the same combined vote totals. Both the Left and Pirates are below 5%.1
The campaign signs, photographed from the DW Journal (aired in the USA by Link TV), are interesting. Note how the CDU and SPD both emphasize their leaders, while the FDP and Greens explicitly call for list votes (Zweitstimme, or “second votes”) in the state’s two-vote mixed-member proportional system.
I had seen some polling that had the Left well above the threshold; maybe there was some tactical voting there, too, by soft Left voters who feared voting for the Left would only increase the odds of a grand coalition, given that SPD-Green-Left post-electoral cooperation would have been unlikely. [↩]
The following post is by Professor Michael Thies of UCLA. [Corrected since initial posting.]
One weirdness of MMP is what to do when a party wins more seats in single-seat districts than its PR vote share would have earned. A few “overhang seats” are easy enough to deal with, but I wondered how last month’s Japanese election results would have looked under MMP (with the dubious assumption that nothing else changes).
If we simplify and assume nationwide PR, and use the PR vote shares that each party actually earned in the 16 December election (1st column of the table below) for all 480 seats, the 2nd column shows the seats “earned.”
If this were Germany, with overhang seats, the LDP would get to keep all 237 SMD seats (not 294 combined total that it actually received, because it would get no PR seats), and the legislature would have to grow to 584 seats. Of course, if overhangs were not part of the rule, the LDP would have 27.6 percent of the seats instead of the 61.3% they do have. This way, LDP-Kom would be well short of a majority (133+57)/480 = 39.6% w/o overhangs, and with a slim majority with overhangs: (237+57)/584 = 50.3%.
From the thread on Russia, it seems there is discussion of adding (or should I say grafting) a small list tier on to the French two-round system for National Assembly elections.
In that thread, DC says:
The French are planning to add a national PR tier (15% of the seats in the lower house of parliament). This appears to be parallel rather than compensatory, with two ballots. However it is constantly referred to as the “German model”, which demonstrates journalistic ignorance about PR is nor confined to Anglo-Saxon countries.
The French PR tier is supposed to help “inclusivity”. Currently small parties (that don’t make a deal with a large party) can be completely shut out of national politics. Rather than alienate those voters who never see their interests represented in parliament, the French state would rather coopt them by allowing them some representation, but not very much. It appears that completely revamping the electoral method was outside the mandate of the commission in any case, so any reforms were bound to be minimal.
Should the proposal be implemented, the most meaningful effect will almost certainly be the Front National gaining a dozen or two seats in parliament. Will that increase their legitimacy and power? Force them to compromise? It’s hard to know!
I think the point of it is that the PS and the UMP will no longer be obliged (or at least will be less obliged) to court smaller parties at district level.
So called “useful voting” will probably see lots of French voters split their ballot between the district and PR levels, as we saw in Japan, thus a small party seeking representation will not waste a lot of resources at local level unless they have a solid existing base (the PCF, or the PRG, for example).
Any meaningful fair representation will see the FN in parliament-its basically unavoidable. I’m sure a large part of the reason the PR component of this reform is so niggardly is an attempt to avoid a situation where the FN would systematically be the third or fourth party, potentially holding the balance of power.
It could be worse-they could have tried to impose the awful system for regional elections (two-round list PR with “winners” bonus) at a a national level, which was apparently a proposal at one point.
A return of the Russian Federation electoral system to mixed-member majoritarian (MMM, also known as a “parallel” system) is underway. Essentially, it would return the county to the system used until ten years ago, when it was replaced by a single national district (450 seats), closed lists. Under the new-old MMM system, half the seats would continue to be elected in a nationwide closed-list contest, while the other half would consist of single-seat districts (plurality rule).
But while the prospect of individual candidacies suggests a liberalizing of a political system often criticized as heavily tilted in favor of Putin and the governing authorities, history shows that they can actually have the opposite effect.
This is because individuals endorsed by the majority party tend to have an advantage in name recognition and resources in local races, and because candidates who run as independents can often be enticed to join the majority party when the new Parliament is formed, using perks offered by the presidential administration.
The article cites the similar experience of Ukraine, which also has followed the path of MMM > nationwide PR > MMM:
In 2007, under a system of proportional voting for party lists, the Party of Regions won 175 seats with 34.4 percent of the vote. In 2012, the Party of Regions won only 30 percent in proportional voting but now holds 209 seats thanks to victories in individual districts by its own nominees or by independents who joined the faction later.
Finally, the article quotes a Russian election monitor, Arkady Lubaryev, saying his organization would have preferred a “mixed closed system” like that of Germany, rather than the “mixed open” system being proposed. I have never seen this terminology, and it makes no sense to me (raising the risk of confusing open/closed with the type of party list used). I will stick to MMP and MMM, or compensatory and not respectively.
While I still think MMM has its uses, the more I follow developments concerning that system, the more I think it is generally the worst of both worlds.1 It allows establishment parties to over-perform their party label popularity, while also complicating the strategy of opposition forces, which face the contradictory pulls of incentives to coordinate in the single-seat districts with incentives to run separately due to the proportional tier. The 2012 election in Japan suggests that country may be headed down a similar path after a brief period of two-bloc competition and alternation.
I might add that my co-edited book on mixed-member systems (2001) has an oft-overlooked question mark on its “best of both worlds” subtitle, and that I always thought the affirmative answer to that question was more plausible with MMP than with MMM. [↩]
Following up on our earlier review of the 2012 Japanese House of Representatives election, the graph below shows the patterns of two-party competition in the nominal tier, consisting of 300 single-seat districts, won by plurality. The graph plots a district’s winner’s vote percentage (vertical axis) against that of its runner-up (horizontal axis), showing the four most common district dyads. If a district featured two parties getting all of the votes, its marker would be on the diagonal line where the top two vote shares sum to 100%. There are no districts on this pure two-party line, though it is immediately obvious that almost all of those that are were close to it were won by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) second.
Click the image for a larger version
As if we needed more evidence of the slaughter suffered by the DPJ, the graph makes clear how much worse it could have been. (more…)
You do not have to read Japanese to know that this means landslide. (This is the single-seat districts only; but even with the list-PR seats added in, the LDP and is ally, Komeito, have crossed the two-thirds mark.)
Shinzo Abe will get a second stint as Prime Minister.
It is an even bigger victory than the LDP’s most recent prior House of Representatives win in 2005. And this despite not having the hair factor so clearly in its favor.
I wonder how many election alternations have been as undeserving as this one. For that matter, how many proved as disastrous as the last one? The DPJ, winning big in 2009, proved utterly incompetent (even allowing for the rather bad hand it was dealt), and as various commentators have noted, it was not so much that the LDP won today’s election as that the DPJ simply folded.
There were various new parties that were at one point looking like they might break the LDP/DPJ dominance. But, largely due to the majoritarian elements of the mixed-member system Japan uses, there just wasn’t much chance of a breakthrough.
The final report from the official review of New Zealand’s Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system is now posted [PDF].
I have not yet digested the entire report, but the highlights of the recommendations are: dual candidacy OK, closed lists OK, dump the one-seat threshold, lower list-vote threshold to 4%, consider fixed 60:40 ratio of electorate to list seats. If one-seat threshold abolished, also get rid of overhang provision.
All good, though I’m not sure about that last one. The report says, on p.8:
Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold would increase the chances of significant numbers of overhang seats being generated by parties that win electorate seats but do not cross the party vote threshold. Therefore, if the one electorate seat threshold is abolished, we also recommend the provision for overhang seats be abolished. Parties that win electorate seats would keep those seats. However, the size of Parliament would remain at 120 seats because no extra list seats would be allocated. This would have minimal impact on the proportionality of Parliament.
I suspect most of the voting for small-party candidates in single-seat districts (electorates) is motivated by the possibility that said party would win more than this one seat, if it had a party vote sufficient for two or more seats (but less than 5% of the vote). Without the district win granting it a chance at list seats, there is usually little incentive to vote for such a party. An exception would be the Maori Party, which is able to win several of these seats even while getting few list votes. And it is this (very big) exception that calls into question the Commission’s claim of a minimal effect of their recommendation on proportionality. Without adding seats to parliament to (partially) compensate other parties for the party that is overrepresented due to district wins, it would seem that there would be considerable potential for increased disproportionality.
The Republic of Georgia goes to the polls in parliamentary elections on 1 October. The electoral system is mixed-member majoritarian (MMM; also known as a parallel system). There are 73 legislators elected in single-seat districts, and 77 from party lists.
The following is excerpted from Civil.ge Daily News Online, 26 August. It is an interesting example of campaigning to try to prevent a party’s supporters from splitting their vote.
Leader of opposition Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is campaigning in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region on August 26-27, called on supporters not to differentiate between supporting Georgian Dream in party-list and majoritarian contests when casting ballot in the October 1 parliamentary elections. …
“We’ve been hearing from many regions: ‘We’ll vote for the Georgian Dream [in party-list contest], but there is a very good majoritarian [MP candidate from other party], like Gegenava or someone else’; don’t trust such [approach]; if Gegenava supports the current government he too is responsible for the authorities’ each and every step,” Ivanishvili said, apparently referring to an incumbent ruling party lawmaker Archil Gegenava, who is running in the October 1 parliamentary elections to retain his majoritarian MP seat in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency.
The constitutional system is semi-presidential. (President-parliamentaty subtype, I believe.)
Is Germany about to revoke or modify its provision on “overhang” seats? Evidently there has been a Constitutional Court finding today against the current practice,1 and there is now a debate about how to respond.
Germany’s highest court declared the country’s complex electoral law unconstitutional Wednesday and ordered for it to be overhauled before the next general election…
The current voting system was passed only last year by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition in an attempt to satisfy previous criticism by the Federal constitutional Court.
…the constitutional court again criticized that parties which win more seats than they would take under a purely proportional system can keep those seats — potentially skewing election results.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party gained an additional 24 seats this way in the 2009 general elections.
The provision is actually–dare I say it?–more complex than that. It is pretty much impossible under MMP not to allow a party that wins more than its proportional share to keep some if its resulting advantage. The only sure way would be to revoke a seat it had actually won in a single-seat district.
The German MMP (as also in New Zealand) adds further seats to the legislative chamber to “balance” these overhangs. These partially compensate other parties for the fact that some party is over-represented from its winning more single-seat districts than its proportional entitlement would be (based on its list vote, at the state level in Germany). It is not clear from the news story exactly which part of this process has been declared constitutionally invalid.
It certainly is the case that, even with the balance seats, the presence of overhangs means a “skewing” of results away from strict proportionality. Indeed, if one does not want this, one should use pure PR and not MMP. The potential over-representation for a party that performs especially well in single-seat districts is one of the ways in which MMP is a “mixed” or hybrid system, and not simply a proportional system.
I vaguely recall someone might have mentioned this case in another thread here. [↩]
The elections for a constituent assembly in Libya on 7 July were apparently held under a Mixed-Member Majoritarian (MMM, or parallel) system. Results will not be available for a few days, but that won’t stop various parties from releasing their own claims.
There were 120 seats in a nominal tier, and 80 list seats.
I have a version of the law that someone sent me back in February. I do not know if it was subsequently amended or not. And, of course, it is a translation and may have lost something in the process. Update:David Jandura has much more, including that one region actually has no list seats. (I should have known to look there first!)
The version of the law that I have says that the 120 seats are “by majority system” but then indicates that if the constituency has one seat, it is “FPTP” and if it has more than one, it is “SNTV”. (The terms in quotation marks actually appear in the version I am reading.) Thus it is not a “majority system”, but that may just be poor translation. It is not clear to me how many districts have M=1 and how many M>1 and hence SNTV. It seems that parties could not formally endorse candidates in the nominal tier.
The list tier is districted, but I am unable to tell how many districts there are (and hence their average magnitude). The allocation formula is simple (Hare) quota with largest remainders. Lists are to alternate men and women, and are apparently closed.
Welcome to the wonderful world of electoral systems, Libyans!
The system continues to have a nominal tier made up of 80 single-seat districts, decided by plurality, and a list tier of 40 seats. The following examples confirm that it remains MMP:
1. The largest party, DC, won 40% of the party-list votes, and 41 of the 80 constituencies. It won 7 of the 40 list seats, for a total of 48 seats, which is precisely 40%.
2. The ABC won 25% of the list votes and 26 constituencies. Its list votes are 4, giving it 30 seats (25%) in total.
3. The LCD won 22% of the list votes and 12 districts. Its was awarded 14 list seats to bring its seat total to 26, or 21.67% of the total.
4. The BNP won 4% of the party vote and no districts. Apparently there is no, or an extremely low threshold, which would entitle it to 4 or 5 seats. It won 5, all from the list. (A few parties won a single seat off the list on less than 1% of the vote.)
In 2007, the allocation had appeared to be de facto MMM, because each of the two biggest parties had set up “dummy” lists that ran no candidates in the nominal tier. This allowed the main parties to win single-seat districts plus a full proportional share of the list seats for their dummies. In that election, the LCD and its dummy combined for 83 seats on around half the votes.
I think that there is now just a single vote, instead of separate nominal and list votes. The thread on the 2007 results (first link here) had some extensive discussion of possible ways to limit gaming of MMP without going to a single vote.
See results from the Independent Electoral Commission (PDF). [↩]
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