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%.
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…)
The parliament of Papua New Guinea voted in late November to extend to 30 months, from the current 18, the “grace period” following the installation of a government during which no-confidence motions are not permitted (see The Australian).
Note that the term of the PNG parliament is five years. If this measure is confirmed in a final vote set for 5 February, it would mean for fully half the term of parliament, there would be no effective responsibility of the government to parliament.
Most (all?) classifications of the world’s political systems–including some published under my own name–have PNG among the parliamentary democracies. However, calling this system parliamentary is becoming increasingly inaccurate.
Shugart and Carey (1992) refer to a hybrid type in which the assembly selects the executive, which then is not subject to confidence, as “Assembly-Independent”. PNG is trending that way, though not completely, as there will remain periods in which parliament may engage the responsibility of the government.
(I recall that there also exists a period leading up to an election in which no-confidence moves are not allowed.)
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.
I imagine a prime minister being “rolled” over foreign policy issues is not common, especially when the issue is nothing more than how to vote on a symbolic United Nations General Assembly resolution. But such is the precariousness of both Julia Gillard’s grip on her party and the Israeli government’s diplomatic strategy that this is exactly what happened earlier this week.
The Australian government had planned to vote against the resolution to upgrade the status of the “nonmember state” of “Palestine” at the UN. However, Gillard’s Labor Party cabinet members forced her to change Australia’s position to abstain.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, who met Ms Gillard before cabinet, drove the push to oppose the Prime Minister…
Ms Gillard had wanted to vote no while the Left faction, which is pro-Palestinian, wanted to vote for the resolution.
The Right faction, which would usually support Ms Gillard, backed an abstention, in part due to the views of its members that the government was too pro-Israel, and also because many MPs in western Sydney, who are already fearful of losing their seats, are coming under pressure from constituents with a Middle East background.
I might note that we Jews, too, have a Middle East background,1 but presumably the SMH means Australian citizens from Arab or other Muslim countries. There just aren’t enough Jews in swing districts, apparently.2
One source said Ms Gillard was told the cabinet would support whatever final decision she took because it was bound to support the leader but the same could not be said of the caucus.
“If you want to do it, the cabinet will back you but the caucus won’t,” a source quoted one minister as telling the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the German government has also announced it will abstain. When you lose Australia and Germany, even only to abstention on something symbolic, it may be a signal that your diplomatic strategy is lacking.
Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has said he would support the Palestinian Authority’s UN gambit.
The “resistance”, so to speak, of the Palestinian organizations and their sympathizers abroad to recognize this basic fact is at the very core of the conflict. [↩]
And I do not know the views of the Australian Jewish population, but I assume its organizations would favor a no vote on the UN resolution. [↩]
Vanuatu, one of the last cases of the Single Non-Transferable Vote, held general elections earlier this month.
Jon Fraenkel of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, sends along the following tidbit about the challenges of vote distribution under SNTV:
Ralph Regenvanu, a reformist MP elected last time out as an independent but this time around seeking to establish a political party, contested the 6-seat Port Vila constituency and tried to get a running mate elected, but apparently failed to divert votes away from himself to that running mate, so a load got ‘wasted’, and his colleague failed.
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.
Apparently Julia Gillard’s speech on the motion to the dismiss Peter Skipper as speaker is getting considerable play for its forthright qualities, so I thought it could be worth giving some background.
John Gillard, the prime minister’s father, died recently. Alan Jones, a Sydney shock jock, told as Liberal party fundraiser that John Gillard had died of shame over his daughter’s lies. The public backlash to the remark, once it was published has been, to say the least, considerable and the Opposition has been somewhat on the back foot.
Last year Gillard arranged the resignation of the Labor speaker and the election of Peter Slipper, then a Coalition MHR, to that office. Shortly after Slipper’s election one of his staffers, James Ashby, started an action against Slipper in the Federal Court for sexual harassment. The Commonwealth was a co-defendant to the action and this week settled with Ashby for $50 000. New evidence filed by Ashby in the proceedings was released this week. It included a text message by Slipper making dismissive references to female genitalia. If you are desperate for the actual text message I’d invite you to read the court file.
The Opposition then moved the House to dismiss Slipper from the speakership on grounds of his misogyny as shown by the court evidence. That motion failed in the House. The Gillard speech was delivered in opposition to the motion. Slipper resigned as speaker shortly after the defeat of the dismissal motion. Abbot probably did not much help his motion by saying that the government should have died of shame and tying himself neatly into the Jones imbroglio. It’s now been revealed that 2 independent MHRs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, had advised Slipper, before the dismissal debate, that his position was untenable. Windsor and Oakeshott opposed the dismissal motion.
So, yes, it it was a powerful speech and perhaps it is worthy of emulation as a way of answering whispering campaigns. However it was also given in defence of a speaker who had clearly shown himself to be at least as misogynous as Tony Abbot, the actual target of the speech.
After the disastrous Slipper appointment the numbers in the House have altered somewhat in the Opposition’s favour. The new Speaker, Anna Burke, is a Labor MHR so the government is down 1 because the speaker cannot vote except on a tie. The number if independents has increased by 2 since the general election. Slipper is one. The second is Craig Thompson, an ALP MHR mired in a union corruption scandal who has been suspended from the ALP. Neither Slipper nor Thompson has a serious prospect of retaining their seats at the next election.
The prospect of an actual change of government is limited because the term is running down and for various unbearably complicated reasons the window for an early general election is closing quite rapidly.
Oh, and the former prime minster, Kevin Rudd, has been raising his public profile recently.
The Australian Capital Territory, which possibly has the worst acronym in the known universe, (the ‘ACT Electoral Act’ is an example that springs to mind) is having a general election on 20 October. There are 2 districts with magnitude 5 and one with magnitude 7. The electoral system is Hare-Clark STV.
The form of government is not Westminster. The legislative assembly elects and dismisses the chief minister directly.
I know I thought this about the Northern Territory and I was wrong, but this may end the 2 year run of unbroken Labor electoral losses.
And now that we know all about this minuscule election, the subject of capital districts is so chaotic that Wikipedia does not even manage a unified page on the topic.
The Northern Territory of Australia goes to the polls this Saturday. 25 MLAs are to be elected from SMCs by majority preferential voting. There is no second chamber. The numbers in the old parliament were 12 ALP, 12 CLP and 1 independent.
Because the territory is remote and thinly populated there is usually very limited polling. What we have suggests the Henderson labor government may actually be returned to office, which would be a first for Labor governments in some years.
There is a by-election today for the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian legislative assembly. State by-elections are normally not that significant.
However, the Victorian Liberal government only has a majority of 1 in the assembly (not counting the speaker) and the ALP opposition really needs to hold this seat. The state seat overlaps the federal seat which is already held by the Greens. The ruling Liberals have not presented a candidate. The by-election has become somewhat of a proxy for Julia Gillard’s leadership and for a recent campaign by some ALP elements against the Greens.
Last December the PNG Supreme Court ruled that Michael Somare had not lawfully been removed as prime minister and therefore that the election of his successor was invalid. The PNG constitution goes into some detail on how to remove a prime minister and the method used, a parliamentary decision without any notice, did not meet the requirements for a vote of no confidence. The ABC has developed a nice turn of phrase by referring to Somare’s putative successor as the ‘effective prime minister’.
We now have fresh developments. The Supreme Court re-affirmed its December ruling 3 days ago. Today the deputy speaker ruled that the effective prime minister is out of office. In the meantime the deputy prime minster has arrested the chief justice and deputy chief justice and charged them with sedition. A ruling by the presiding officer is not one of the ways that a prime minister can be removed from office, although the deputy speaker may be relying on the new court ruling.
The foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand are having a mild case of hysterics. There is some talk that the effective deputy prime minister will now charge the deputy speaker with sedition as well.
South Korea is one of the few remaining presidential systems (as opposed to semi-presidential systems) to hold only non-concurrent presidential and legislative elections. The current president, Lee Myung-bak, was elected in 2007 (with 48.7% of the vote).
Today’s election is the second National Assembly election since the president took office. In 2008, his party, the Grand National Party, won 37.4% of the party-list votes and 153 of the 299 seats, which represented an increase of 32 seats for the party on the previous total. So far, so good for the expectation that presidents’ parties gain in non-concurrent elections held early in their terms (“honeymoon elections”, as I have called them in my work on the political consequences of electoral cycles).
With this being the second election of the president’s term, his party has lost seats, right? Not so fast. Preliminary indications are that “South Korea’s ruling conservatives have scored an upset victory” (VOA).
The president’s supporters have rebranded their party as New Frontier. Party alignments and labels are not very stable in South Korea. In any case, I suppose voters know who the president’s allies are, and, going against expectations of both Korea experts and those of us who watch trends in non-concurrent elections, those allies have done well in a late-term election.
Presidents in South Korea are limited to a single term. The next president will be elected in December this year.
The legislature is elected via a Mixed-Member Majoritarian (MMM or “parallel”) system.
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