An Australian Green senator, Richard Di Natale (Victoria) has spoken of the importance of the smaller party maintaining its identity if it enters coalition. The remarks were made at the New Zealand Greens’ conference in Christchurch (NZ Herald).
Sen. Di Natale spoke of changes to the current Labor Party minority cabinet’s program that his party could claim credit for–putting a price on pollution, a new $10 billion investment in renewable energy, and free dental care for children–but also of the fear of the credit not being noted. “The key issue is knowing when not to compromise,” Dr Di Natale said. Moreover,
Maintaining your identity when there is a perception that you are part of the government is a huge challenge.
Such are the perils for small parties. However, based on polling in the run-up to this year’s Australian election, claiming credit for policy seems like the least of the Greens’ current concerns. Rather, they need to be more worried about keeping enough senators after the coming debacle for Labor to protect the few policy gains they’ve managed since 2010.
There is an interesting item about a recent poll in the New Zealand Herald. The upshot of it, as I read it, is that the New Zealand Labour party may be so concerned about being tied too closely to the Greens that they’d at least like to signal a preference for forming a coalition with Winston Peters and his New Zealand First Party. Now that’s desperate!
The story notes that Labour+NZF would be unlikely to be a majority, but they may hope they can just say to the Greens that they can either agree at least to abstain and allow a minority government to function, or be blamed for a fresh election.
Then again, maybe Labour and Greens will yet end up forging a joint program before the election, and this is all posturing. As also noted in the news item, the Greens have made no secret of wanting the Finance ministry, and Labour certainly has an interest in signaling that this would be non-negotiable.
Tasmania has a legislative council election today. There is no general election for all 15 MLCs. 2 or 3 MLCs are elected from uninominal districts for 6 year terms each year. A large majority are independents.
The military regime has published a draft constitution. The regime constitution is radically different from the Ghai constitution released some months ago and most of the changes are for the worse. The regime has managed to establish possibly the worst constitution-making process possible. The draft will be enacted by decree after 2 weeks for public submissions which the regime can accept or disregard at pleasure.
In most ways this is almost as theoretical a constitution as the one just adopted in Zimbabwe and had been prepared in a much, much less transparent and accountable way. Less transparent and accountable than Zimbabwe is not a good look.
I found a version of the Ghai constitution without the watermark. The Fiji police seized all paper copies and burnt them which is why the PDF is hard to find. The Lowy Institute, to say the least, damns the process and its product with faint praise.
The backwash from the Gillard frolic continues. The opposition has put a motion of no confidence on notice for the budget meeting of the parliament in May. This motion will not require a suspension of standing orders and therefore will not need an absolute majority.
I’d be astounded, (but as we all know I’ve been astounded before) if the government tried to prevent a debate on this motion. They are unlikely to have the numbers in the house to vote against debating the motion, which means if they really do not want to have the motion debated there is always the possibility of seeking a prorogation. Prorogation would be dangerous because it would terminate the budget debate and the government needs to pass the budget before 30 July.
I hope the governor-general would reject that advice, but at least it would be a test case for whether the governor-general is a benign mentor or a mechanical idiot so at least the cause of political science will advance.
In the wake of Thursday’s chaos a number of senior ministers have resigned. They have been replaced by relative unknowns whoa re thought to be deeply loyal to Julia Gillard. The government’s electoral standings continue to decline. In today’s Newspoll the 2PP is 58/42 to the Coalition.
While there is no truth at all to DC’s dastardly assertion that all Australian MPs are golpistas, Simon Crean, senior minister and a former opposition leader, has called on Julia Gillard to resign the prime leadership. I’d be astounded if there is not a change, and then presumably there will be a caretaker government while the new leader tries to form a government.
Abstract: Scholars and practitioners express concern that parties in “third wave” democracies are poorly developed, compared to parties in older democracies. We suggest that parties vary in their organizational “capacity”, focusing on parties’ ability to select trustworthy executive agents. Capacity is higher where parties can vet potential executive talent by observing future leaders over time in the legislature – an increasingly available option as democracy matures. The key distinction in parties’ use of this option lies in the delegation structure between a party and the executive. Parliamentary systems offer a clear line of delegation, which parties control. In presidential systems, parties must recruit executive candidates who can win a popular election, requiring characteristics that may not be well correlated with those that make them good party agents. As parliamentary democracy matures, we find a steady increase in prime ministers’ average length of prior legislative service. For presidents, there is significantly weaker growth in prior legislative service. We also theorize about and investigate patterns in semi-presidential democracies. Our findings suggest that the institutional format of the executive is more important for party capacity in new democracies than the era in which a democracy was born. [↩]
Two electoral systems that use “nontransferable preference votes” are commonly used: single nontransferable vote (SNTV) and open-list proportional representation (OLPR). Both systems promote intraparty competition by vote-seeking candidates, but differ on the extent to which the incentives of individual candidates and collective seat-maximizing parties are aligned, or not. We develop “logical models” of expected vote shares of parties’ first and last winners, and test (and confirm) these models using “symmetric regression” on an original data set drawn from over 2000 party-district observations in nine countries. The analysis helps bring us closer to an understanding of the relatively neglected “intraparty dimension” of representation, and allows us to offer some modest suggestions for improving systems of nontransferable preference votes. [↩]
Democratic representation involves tradeoffs between collective actors – political parties seeking to maximize seats – and individual actors – candidates seeking to use their personal vote-earning attributes (PVEAs) to maximize their own chance of election and reelection. We analyze these tradeoffs across three different electoral systems used at different times for the large-magnitude nationwide tier of Japan’s House of Councillors. These electoral systems – closed and open-list proportional systems and the single non-transferable vote – differ in the extent to which they entail candidates seeking individual preference votes and in whether collective vote shares affect overall party performance. We use local resources as a proxy for PVEA and seek to determine the extent to which parties nominate “locals” and how much the presence of such locals affects party performance at the level of Japan’s prefectures. [↩]
The Northern Territory has a new chief minister. That is perhaps not notable enough for fructovotantes except that Giles is Austraia’s first indigenous head of government and for the manner in which he deposed his predecessor. Terry Mills was replaced as leader of the Country Liberal Party, and therefore as chief minister, while attending a trade mission in Japan. Presumably he phoned in his resignation to the Administrator of the Territory.
That makes two head of government removals on the Coalition side in a fortnight.
A Victorian Coalition MP (who is under investigation for misuse of parliamentary resources) has resigned from the Liberal parliamentary party. The numbers in the legislative assembly are now Coalition 44, Labor 43, Independent 1. There is a by-election for the seat of Lyndhurst on 27 April.
Victoria has a fixed term parliament and it is absolutely unclear which way the new independent will vote should Labor win the by-election. It is also absolutely unclear if the resigned MP will be able to remain in parliament after the investigation is concluded.
It really seems to me that if the assembly is where the government is formed, there need to be an odd number of members.
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. [↩]
Julia Gillard just announced a federal election for 14 September. This raises a number of slightly troubling issues, not least the religious significance of the day for Australian Jews. She will ask the governor-general later today, to agree to issue writs for the September date. I’d be surprised if the governor-general does not at least state that she retains power to appoint a different prime minister in appropriate circumstances and to accept different advice on the election date. While there are precedents from Queensland and New Zealand for very long pre-election announcements, they were both by governments with a parliamentary majority in their own right.
Fiji has suffered a string of coups since independence, including coups within coups, counter-coups, and something called a civilian coup. The present regime is a military dictatorship headed by the armed forces commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Like many junta leaders Bainimarama has assumed a number of civilian titles, including that of prime minister, but let’s be good small-d democrats and not give him dignities to which he has no claim.
Tha Bainimarama regime, in power since 2006, is going through a constitution-drafting process as a prep to promised elections. Those promises have been repeatedly broken. Professor Yash Ghai, who helped draft the South African and Kenyan constitutions, was nevertheless appointed to a constitutional commission and duly prepared his recommendation. Of course it has turned out that Frank has been betrayed again and the Ghai constitution is not at all what he wanted, but Fijileaks has posted the Ghai report. The regime has naturally declared the publication of the Ghai constitution most improper and is chasing people all over Suva for fear that someone may get to read it.
The Ghai constitution is an interesting document in a number of ways and worth a look.
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