Just so everyone knows I have not totally forgotten about the rest of the world while focusing on Canada, here is a reminder that January 25 is a very important date: The Palestinian Legislative Council will be elected. Click on “Palestine” above for previous posts on this election, which covered the electoral system and the nomination strategies of Fatah and Hamas.
Political Arithmetik has been tracking the polls, and the graph shows that Hamas has gained considerably in voter intention over the course of the campaign, while Fatah has been more erratic but has mostly declined. Both trends may have reversed lately, with two recent polls putting Fatah at about a ten-point lead over Hamas. Fatah’s vote is hovering in the low 40-percent range, whereas a month ago it was closer to 50%. The post also contains an interesting discussion of the political context, informed by Charles’s recent trip to the Middle East.
It is worth noting that these polls–I think–are based on voter intentions with respect to the party-list vote. Whether they tell us much about the outcome of the mutli-seat district candidate-based races is dubious (see earlier discussions both in posts and comments about the ‘personal vote.’)
The Head Heeb had a “one week to go” post that sets the stage nicely, and I would imagine that Jonathan will have more in the coming days.
I will probably try to analyze the results once they are in, though perhaps not immediately. As is clear from my previous posts on the Palestinian elections, I find their unusual form of a mixed-member majoritarian system quite interesting from a social-scientific and psephological perspective.
Both Charles and Jonathan discuss methodological issues with respect to surveys in the Palestinian context. With some caveats, they note something encouraging: The electorate overall holds quite moderate views. Now, if only their legislators, whoever they may be, can get out of the way and allow those moderate views to be translated into action…
I noted earlier that the election in Canada resulted in a leading party with the smallest plurality of seats in Canadian history: 40.26%. Here I want to compare this result to other plurality jurisdictions. As part of an academic paper that I am working on now, I have collected data on 187 elections held under plurality electoral rules in parliamentary systems that have mostly nationalized party conpetition.* These elections cover a period of 30-40 years in the U.K., Canada and the Canadian provinces, New Zealand (prior to its shift to MMP), and several Caribbean countries.**
How many of these 187 elections produced a plurality smaller than what the Conservative party currently holds? One.
In Nova Scotia in 1998, the Liberal party obtained 19 of 52 seats in the provincial legislative assembly, or 36.5%, on 35.3% of the votes. That election produced a tie in seats, with the NDP also obtaining 19 seats on 34.6% of the vote.
These are the only cases in my data in which the largest party in parliament won under 43% of the seats.
As I noted in a post on election day, Canada’s federal minority parliaments have averaged a life of about 18.5 months, or about the length of the minority parliament elected in 2004. Given what a dysfunctional parliament this is likely to be, it will be hard pressed to keep itself together even that long.
Something about Martin’s tone when he said that ‘the people of Canada have chosen Harper to lead a minority government’ made me feel that he was trying to hide his glee about how Harper would suffer trying to do just that.
Declan also notes, in his running commentary from election night: “Is Stephen Harper still speaking?” I saw it on C-SPAN and I have to admit, I stayed up past my usual bedtime to hear what Harper had to say, and I thought it was the worst victory speech I had ever heard any politician give. I am not sure how I stayed awake.
*The data therefore do not include India, where a very large share of the seats and votes are won by state-specific parties. In India coalition governments have been the norm in recent decades because the largest party usually has under 30% of the votes and seats. I also did not include cases that hardly have a party system at all, such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
**Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
***In this election, the second largest party in parliament (which had obtained a higher votes percentage) formed the government with the support of a third party.
The Conservative Party of Canada may have won the most votes of any party on January 23, but 63.7% of Canadians still voted for other parties. Ten and a half percent of the national vote consisted of Quebeckers voting for the separatist BQ. Of the remaining 53.2%, all but a miniscule percentage was cast for parties to the left of the Conservatives. And the BQ itself is in no way a (small-c) conservative force, as the party’s platform* on several national issues puts it much closer to the left than to the Conservative party (for instance, it supports same-sex marriage and the de-criminalization of marijuana, favors tax increases on the wealthy and a surtax on profits of oil companies, it opposes participation of Canadian forces in any “wars deemed to violate international law,” and its environmental policies put it close to the Green party).
Despite a clear majority of the national votes having been cast for national center-left parties and another 10.5% having been cast for the leftist-sovereigntist BQ, the first-past-the-post electoral system ensures that the center-left electoral majority will be represened by only 42.9% of the seats in parliament. The inclusion of the BQ would bring this center-left total to 59%.
Yet the government will be formed by a single party that has just over 40% of the seats and was backed by only 36.3% of the electorate. The next largest party to its right is the Christian Heritage Party–the closest thing Canada has to the social-conservative wing of the US Republican party–which managed 0.2% of the national vote (and, of course, no seats).
Obviously, nationwide proportional-representation (PR) system would have translated the center-left majority of votes into a center-left majority of parliamentary seats. And, as I noted in the previous post today about the Canadian election, even a regionalized PR system that was as relatively disproportional as that of Spain or Norway would place the Liberals and NDP close to a majority (even if the Greens obtained no representation under such a system). In other words, PR would have produced a more functional parliament, generating greater governability, than the FPTP system, notwithstanding that governability is just about the only normative justification ever given for FPTP in parliamentary democracies.
And yet the election is being called, in Canada and here in the USA, a turn to the right.
*The link is actually to the 2004 platform. I was unable to find a detailed English-language overview of the 2006 platform.
How did the seat-vote equation perform in the 2006 Canadian election? To determine that, I repeated the methodology outlined in my pre-election post about seat estimation, entering the now-known votes distribution into the equation. The answer is: Not all that well. The divergence between the model and the actual translation of votes to seats only underscores a point I made in introducing the seat-vote estimations: Canada’s electoral system does not behave like a ‘normal’ first-past-the-post (plurality) system. This is not really surprising, for I noted that the normal seat bonus expected to be enjoyed by the largest party in FPTP is rarely realized in Canada (see the graph in the pre-election post). However, in the preceding two Canadian general elections, the seat-vote equation estimates were largely correct for the votes cast and seats allocated outside Quebec. In 2006 they were not.
The Conservative party–the party with, as expected, the largest share of the votes nationally, would be predicted by the seat-vote equation to have won a large majority of the seats allocated in provinces other than Quebec: 143/233 (61.4%), based on its 40.2% of the votes won outside that province. Instead, it won only 114 (48.9%), thus benefiting much less than might have been anticipated from the normal FPTP tendency to over-represent the largest party even when we exclude Quebec from the results.
Added to the known outcome in Quebec (where Conservatives won 10 of 75 seats), the Conservatives’ winning 61.4% of the non-Quebec seats would have put the party at 49.7% of the total seats, or two seats short of a majority. In other words, allowing for error of estimate, the party would have had either a commanding position despite being short of a majority, or would have had an exceedingly narrow majority. Instead, however, the party won a mere 40.3% of the total seats in the House of Commons–which is the smallest share of seats for a leading party in Canadian history (a point I will take up in greater detail in a separate post).
What this all means is that the Canadian electoral system has crossed a threshold of sorts, where it is no longer performing as a FPTP system is expected to perform, according to its own normative justification. That is, the claimed advantage of such a system is ‘governability.’ FPTP systems in parliamentary democracies are not supposed to deliver seat allocations that mirror the distribution of citizens’ votes. They are supposed to produce clear winners, either ‘manufacturing’ a majority for the party with the plurality of the votes, or at the very least giving the largest party a sufficiently large plurality of the seats that it is in a commanding positions vis-a-vis parliament even if it lacks a majority of that body. The Canadian electoral system has failed miserably this time, by the standards of the family of electoral systems of which it is a part. The Canadian FPTP system is, in a word, dysfunctional.
The Conservative party won 36.3% of the votes nationwide, with a 6.1 percentage-point margin over its nearest competitor, the Liberal party. So, where the votes split 36.3-30.2, the seats percentages split 40.3-33.4. Considering only these two parties, this is not a result far divergent from what many proportional representation systems might produce. PR systems with many districts of small to medium magnitudes–Spain or Norway, for example–often produce similar votes-to-seats relationships for the two leading parties.*
Where the Canadian system does not resemble a PR system, of course, is in how it treats the smaller parties. For instance, the Bloc Quebecois won in this election 51 seats (16.6%) on 10.5% of the votes, whereas the NDP won just 29 seats (9.4%) on 17.5% of the votes. Any small-district PR system of the sort that would give the largest two parties results similar to what they actually obtained on January 23 might continue to over-represent the BQ (because its votes would remain concentrated in several smaller multi-seat districts within Quebec) and under-represent the NDP (because it is less concentrated), but it would bring the results for these two smaller parties closer to their votes. So, even if Canada had a PR system about as proportional as those of Norway and Spain and an allocation of seats for the top two parties about like what actually resulted in the just-concluded election, under such a system the NDP probably would have had about 45-50 seats**, but the BQ more like 30-35–reversing the actual outcomes for these two parties in a way that matches their ranking in the national votes.***
It is a result of the regional distribution of party voting support that the seat-vote equation does not handle the Canadian seat allocation as well as it handles other FPTP systems. For instance, if all of the five leading parties were national, parties the size of the NDP and BQ might have been expected under FPTP to get less than 20-25 seats combined. A leading party with 36.3% of the votes against such a fragmented field of contenders might have been expected to win 57% of the seats. If that sounds high, consider that the Labour party in the most recent British election won 55% of the seats on just 35% of the vote.Â§
The largest party in Canada under-performs its seat-vote equation estimate for the same reason that the smaller parties over-perform: geographic concentration. This is obvious in the case of the BQ, which is absolutely not a national party (contesting elections only in one province, where it is by far the leading party). But as I noted before the election, the NDP can also be expected to out-perform its seat-vote estimate because it, too, is concentrated (although far less so than the BQ). It is quite obvious that if two parties have the votes concentration to exceed their estimated seat allocations, then larger parties will fall short of their estimates. Such was the case with the Conservative party, which wound up with barely over 40% of the seats despite a votes share that would be expected to result in something between 48 and 54% of the seats in the House of Commons.
In follow-up posts, I am going to look at the within-Quebec results and in somewhat more detail at the significance of the minority government that was just elected, given the distribution of votes and seats for other parties.
*For example, the leading party in Norway’s PR system in 1997 had 35.0% of the votes and 39.4% of the seats. In 2005, the leading party in Norway had 32.7% of the votes and 36.1% of the seats. Spain’s PR system–a better referent for Canada, given the presence of many regional parties–produced a result in 2004 of 46.9% of the seats for the leading party, which had 42.6% of the votes. The runner-up in that election had 42.3% of the seats on 37.7% of the votes. These allocations for the larger parties in small-district PR systems are strikingly close to those of the just completed Canadian FPTP election: The PR examples just given feature an advantage ratio (%seats/%votes) for the largest party of at least 1.10. The Conservatives’ advantage ratio in this election was 1.11.
**It is worth noting that 103 seats for the Liberals and close to 50 seats for the NDP would have put them on the cusp of a majority, and thus possibly put the center-left, with combined votes of almost 48% even without including the Greens, in a position that the actual outcome did not give it: An ability, within the existing conventions on government-formation, to prevent the Conservative minority from forming a government on its own. In other words, governability, the supposed advantage of FPTP, would have been improved by PR!
Â§Added Jan. 25: Well, a clear majority of seats on 35% of the vote is unusual. In fact, UK 2005 was the second smallest share of votes ever (within my data) to have resulted in a parliamentary majority. The lowest was a few percentage points lower in New Zealand’s last FPTP election (1993). But several seat majorities have resulted in other elections in various countries or provinces from around 36% of the vote.
This is a temporary interruption of my wall-to-wall Canada coverage. Just a link to the best thing I have seen yet on the Liberal (oops, I am so used to capitalizing that, having been doing that wall-to-wall Canada coverage) liberal domination of academia. (h/t LGM)
It is, of course, possible that the Canadian election today will not produce a clear ‘winner.’ It would be a surprise if any party emerged from the election with a majority of the seats, and it would not be a surprise if the party with the most seats was in a less-than-commanding position to form a minority cabinet.
Canada has had considerable experience with federal elections in which no party obtained a majority of the seats. In each of those cases, the party with the most seats has formed a cabinet consisting of ministers only from that party, and that remained in office only if the other parties in the House of Commons did not join forces on a no-confidence motion. This is what is meant by the term, minority government, as opposed to a majority government (one party having over 50% of the seats) or a coalition (two or more parties sharing executive and legislative power and dividing up the cabinet ministerial portfolios among themselves).
Not counting today’s election, Canadians have gone to the polls in a general election sixteen times since 1957. In almost half of those elections–seven–no party has obtained a majority of seats. (Of the other nine in which one party formed a majority government, only twice did that party have a majority of votes: 1958 and 1984, both times the Conservative party and both times the party won around 3/4 of the seats.)
Many of these minority governments have been quite close to a majority. Here are the dates of those elections, the party that won the most seats, and the percentage of seats it held.
The average seat share of these minority governments has been 45.4%; in three cases, the party forming the cabinet had over 48% of the seats.* With the largest party short of, but often fairly close to, a majority of seats, parliament has been “workable,” by which I mean the government has been able to govern and legislate, albeit cautiously, by making ad hoc agreements with other parties or by those other parties’ selective abstentions on parliamentary votes.
The 2006 election, however, may produce the least workable plurality in the Commons in more than half a century.
My estimate based on an average of several polls published on 19 January suggests around 143 seats for the Conservatives, or 46%, which would be near the average for minority governments in Canada. However, other estimates–including alternate scenarios using my estimation method, only based on a closer result than the recent poll average–have the likely Conservative plurality of seats being in the range of 38â€“42%. Even the high end of that range would be a smaller share than the current Paul Martin government holds, and the lowest since 1972. Moreover, given the current make-up of the Canadian party system, a Conservative plurality could be particularly unworkable: The NDP has little in common programmatically with the Conservatives, and the Bloc Quebecois is a separatist party (which also has some signifcant policy differences with the Conservatives).
As Wilfred Day notes in a really interesting comment to an earlier post, there is no provision granting the plurality party a right to make the first effort to form a government (as there is in some other country’s constitutions, notably Iraq’s, as I have discussed at length previously). In fact, Wilfred quotes a Canadian parliamentary scholar as saying that the incumbent cabinet gets the first move in the event that an election has produced no majority: it decides whether to resign, or to face the new house and seek a confidence vote.
I recommend reading the entire excerpt that Mr. Day posted in his comment. The thrust is that a plurality of seats does not in any way prove that the party has “won.” Only a vote by the people’s elected representatives can do that. He cites the case of Ontario in 1985 when the Conservative party (then the incumbent, with a majority in the preceding provincial parliament) won 41.6% of the seats, but after a month of post-election negotiations, the Liberals (with 38.4% of the seats) were able to form a government with the support of the NDP (20% of the seats). It is worth noting in that case that the Liberals had won the popular vote, 38-37. It is also worth noting that the combined Lib-NDP seat share in that election was well over 50%.
In Canada’s federal parliament after today’s election, it is possible that the Liberal and NDP share will be greater than that of the Conservatives, but it is not likely to be a majority, given that the BQ will probably win 58-63 seats and be pivotal. Will either major party be willing to be seen negotiating with the BQ to make a government deal? I would think not. But the smaller the Conservative plurality and the closer the election, the less we can be assured that the party in the lead tonight will be the party granted the exclusive right to appoint cabinet ministers.
Whatever happens with the outcome of the election and the ensuing inter-party negotiations, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Canadians will be called back to the polls before long. A maximum term of parliament in Canada is five years, although elections often happen in the fourth year of a parliament. However, if a government loses a confidence vote–as minority governments are especially vulnerable to doing–or if it sees an opening to seek a greater mandate, a goverment may request, and the Goveror General usually will grant, an earlier election. For each of the above minority governments, here is when the next election was held (with the month noted for both dates), and what resulted from it:
1957/6 –> 1958/3, Conservatives reelected with majority (78.5% of seats)
1962/6 –> 1963/4, alternation to Liberal minority
1963/4 –> 1965/11, continued, but larger, Liberal minority
1965/11 –> 1968/6, Liberals reelected with majority
1972/10 –> 1974/7, Liberals reelected with majority
1979/5 –> 1980/2, alternation to Liberal majority
2004/6 –> 2006/1, ????
The average parliament without a majority party in the last 49 years has sat for a little over 18 months, or almost precisely the length of the one elected in 2004.
*It is worth noting that in two of these cases, the party with the most seats was not the party that the plurality of Canadian voters had voted for: “reversed pluralites” happened in 1957 and 1979.
This post continues a theme I first posted on back on December 4 (way back when it still looked like a minority Liberal government was the most likely outcome). Now I want to call the attention of readers–especially Canadians (and Sitemeter details reveal that I have had quite a few lately, and I hope you stick aound after the election!)–to a quite interesting site on strategic voting: Democratic Space.
I will offer a disclaimer: I am not endorsing strategic voting, or any other kind of voting, in my own country’s elections, and certainly not in someone else’s election. And neither does Democratic Space. But it is a very useful and interesting tool.
Thanks to Wayne Smith for the tip. He also has an interesting discussion of his own on strategic voting, or more generally on “how not to vote.”
(Minor revisions made on January 23, in two tranches)
I keep hearing and reading in coverage of the Canadian campaign that the NDP will bleed voter support on election day, just as it did in 2004. But did that happen in 2004? See the 2004 poll tracker at CTV: There is a very small downward movement in the NDP vote between the June 25 poll and the June 28 election, but not what I would expect from the “bleeding” analogy, and well within any poll’s margin of error. Now compare Political Arithmetik‘s 2006 poll tracker. It shows the NDP gaining in recent polls. Now that does not mean that NDP-leaning voters won’t go vote and change their minds and vote Liberal. But, taken together, these trackers suggest that there is so far no evidence that what did not happen in 2004 is happening “again” in 2006. Quite the contrary.
The more striking thing about the 2004 tracker is the sharp gains for the Liberals at the end (which appear to have been at the expense of Greens and, to a lesser degree, Conservatives, but not the NDP). Will we see the same again in 2006? My gut says yes, though not as dramatically. The late 2006 polling (see my seat estimation post below) suggests there might have already begun a late upward trend for the Liberals (although that is not evident in the Political Arithmetick tracker because it stops at January 17). The 2006 tracker shows a downward trend for the Greens, but as already noted, not for the NDP. Quite the contrary.
(Actually, looking at the 1/22 update of the Political Arithmetik 2006 tracker, it is less clear that there is a downward trend in the Green vote, and it may even be a marginal upward trend. Could it be that the left of the political spectrum is less prone to strategic desertion–at least as of a few days before the election–because it expects a conservative plurality no matter what?)
REVISION (Jan 22 at 1030 Pacific): My estimates based on a closer national result should also assume it would be closer in Quebec. I have changed them accordingly below, with the new or altered text in italics. (Jan 22 at 1507 Pacific: adding links at the bottom of this post to other projections.)
How big will the Conservative victory plurality be in Monday’s Canadian election? That is the only remaining question, barring some dramatic reversal of current fortunes of the parties in voter opinion. A reversal is not out of the question, as the undecided vote is still substantial and the parties seem to be trending closer to one another in recent polls, but it looks like the Conservatives will win the most votes and seats. The question is, will they have a majority of seats in parliament, or will the next Canadian government be a second consecutive minority cabinet (only of a different party)?
An average of four recent polls suggests the Conservatives lead with between 35.5 and 38% of the vote, with the Liberals at 26-29%. This is a significant swing from 2004, when the Liberals led with 36.7% of the vote, and the Conservatives had 29.6%. It is also quite a turnaround from polls as recently as mid-December, which implied a votes distribution not greatly different from the 2004 result.
But in Canada, there is no direct relationship between votes and seats at the national level, because it is a first-past-the-post (FPTP) system complicated by multiparty competition and significant regional variations in the four largest parties’ votes.
Ipsos-Reid published a seats forecast today: Conservatives, 143-147, Liberals 59-63, New Democrats (NDP) 39-43, Bloc Quebecois (BQ) 59-63. A majority in the House of Commons is 155 seats, so this projection says Canada will continue to have minority government as it has had since the 2004 election, only this time with Conservatives replacing Liberals. (For a discusion of an Ipsos-Reid projection from a few days earlier, see Election Canada 2006.)
However, it is worth noting that the Ipsos Reid poll gives the Conservatives the greatest lead of any of the five major polls published on January 19. For the record, these polls show the parties’ likely votes percentages as follows (always listed as Cons-Lib-NDP-BQ-Green):
Also see Charles Franklin’s Canada poll tracker at Political Arithmetik. The trends suggest that the Conservative momentum may have peaked in the last week as it became likely that its level of support would be high enough to give the party a parliamentary majority. Whether this trend will continue–which would imply the Conservatives falling back to 35% or below–or stabilize will determine the size of the plurality the party has in the Commons. A majority remains within reach, but would require a reversal of the last several days’ trends. The party pretty much has to run the table to have a majority.
I have run several simulations based on various polls and other assumptions. Before going further, I want to make a very important disclaimer. What follows are not predictions. They are estimates from a mathematical model that has several assumptions behind it. If any of the assumptions are wrong, the estimate will be wrong. Therefore, I would discourage any Canadian from basing his or her voting on these scenarios or anyone else from taking the following too seriously. I am going to put this out there, explain my assumptions, give a few alternatives, and compare how the model has performed in several past Canadian elections.
If all you care about is the seat estimates themselves, scroll down to the bottom of this post (after clicking on the “more” that appears shortly after the graph, below). However, it makes little sense to show the estimates without explaining the methods first, and indicating the assumptions that underly them.
The estimator model is based on something called the seat-vote equation. The simplest form of this equation is the well known cube law of plurality elections, which states that the ratio of seats for the two largest parties tends to be the cube of the ratio of the votes of those parties. In mathematical notation:
sk/sl = (vk/vl)3,
where s is a party’s seat share and v the vote share and the subscripts refer to parties k and l.
While the cube law is well established, it has also been known for decades that the exponent, 3, is not quite right, at least not for all situations. In 1989, Rein Taagepera and I published Seats and Votes, in which we offer a generalization of the seat-vote equation. The form is the same:
sk/sl = (vk/vl)n (later to be referred to as equation 1)
where the exponent, n, is derived as follows:
where V is the number of voters and E is the number of districts.
For Canada, around 13.5 million voters and 308 ridings (districts) results in an exponent of 2.865 instead of 3. In other words, for the size of Canada’s voting population and the size of its chamber, the expectation is that the two largest parties will be somewhat closer in seat shares than what the standard cube law would predict. (If the two largest parties are at .38 and .28, as Ipsos Reid says, then a cube relationship would predict a seat ratio of 2.499, while the 2.865 exponent would suggest a seat ratio of 2.399.)
How does this model perform? The graph below shows elections over the past 40 years in Canada, each of the Canadian provinces, the U.K., and New Zealand (before its change in electoral system). The horizontal axis shows the actual seat ratio of the two largest parties that resulted from the election, while the vertical axis shows the expected ratio, based on equation 1, with n defined according to the number of votes in the respective election and the size of the assembly. Diamonds indicate elections that produced a majority party; crosses indicate minority situations (such as Canada currently).
(Click on the image for a much larger version; I apologize that even on the large version some squinting is necessary.)
It is clear that most elections fall fairly close to the solid diagonal line that indicates a 1:1 agreement between the estimated and the actual seat ratios. There are some dramatic outliers–especially on the right side of the graph. More on them later, in a future post. For now, what we care about is Canada, at the federal level.
It is noteworthy that of the points that are left of and above the diagonal, many of the elections are Canadian federal elections. In other words, the Canadian electoral system results in a closer ratio of seats for the two largest parties than what would be expected. To put it less clumsily, the Canadian electoral system is relatively more proportional than most FPTP systems. (Note: I said relatively, as in relative to the expected degree of disproportionality inherent in FPTP.) (more…)
According to preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission of Iraq, the main Shiite list obtained 128 of 275 seats, which is 46.5% of the total and only ten seats short of a majority. This is a far better result for the list than I projected days before the election. However, other lists are very close to my projection:
That the two Sunni Arab lists combined for precisely 20%, which matches their estimated share of the population, and also matches my projection (which was weighted by turnout of the various main groups in the October referendum) fails to give much credence to Sunni leaders’ claims of fraud.
Slightly more credence to such claims might result from the fact that the Shiite list did almost as well in the December election as it did last January (48%) in an election that Sunni Arabs hardly partiticipated in. However, I suspect their stronger showing, relative to total turnout, in December as compared to January, 2005, is primarily a product of the adhesion of the Sadrist forces to the list this time around.
By being so close to a majority, the Islamist alliance will be able to form a government with only minor consessions to other groups. Remember, contrary to repeated assertions in the media, the constitution almost certainly should be read as allowing a parliamentary majority–not a two-thirds majority–to determine the members of the Presidency Council and the more important posts of Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers.
More analysis once the detailed provincial breakdowns are available–though I won’t promise to get to it immediately after the certified results are released (which could be Sunday or Monday).
The Liberal leader [and current PM Paul Martin] was in St. John’s for a rally that kicks off three days of intense campaigning that will end on Sunday in British Columbia.
“Canadians are waking up to the possibility of a Stephen Harper government, and they’re thinking about what it would mean in their lives,” Martin said.
“They’re thinking twice and they’re deciding and they’re acting, and they’re joining us,” Martin said.
Attacking Harper for his past statements about Canada as a welfare state, about Atlantic Canada’s “culture of defeat” and for aligning himself with the conservative movement in the United States, Martin said some Conservative candidates have been muzzled during the campaign.
Martin named Cheryl Gallant, Rob Anders, Rob Merrifield and Harold Albrecht as Tory candidates who have a hidden social agenda, and warned that they are still part of the Conservative party even if they haven’t been heard from.
The Liberals say those candidates have been kept out of sight so they can’t make remarks about abortion and same-sex marriage.
Similar language by the incumbent center-left prime minister of New Zealand about a “hidden agenda” by the conservative National Party in the run-up to their September election may have saved the center-left from defeat. Immediately before the election there, the Nationals were in front in polls, but they narrowly lost on election day. However, they were never as far in front nor as long before the election as is the case for the Canadian Tories now.
Is the idea of second thoughts by Canadians wishful thinking by Martin, or could he be correct? The question boils down to whether Harper has allayed fears that he is out of the Canadian mainstream. If those fears persist, swing voters who would like to send the Liberals a message may indeed have second thoughts now that it is less certain that a Conservative government would be a minority government, and hence checked by other parties in the Commons. Will enough voters defect from the Conservatives to ensure it is only a minority government? That is the big question in the final days before Monday’s voting.
Compared to New Zealand, which uses PR, such strategic defection by Canadian voters is much more difficult because of the unpredictability of outcomes in a first-past-the-post system. In fact, it remains possible that the Conservatives could obtain a majority of seats even if the Liberals, NDP, and Greens combine for more than 50% of the vote.
Later today I will post some seat estimators that I have been working on.
The agreement … ensures no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime.
Or into that nation’s baseball federation, as is the case with all other participants. At least they will be participating.
*edited in response to a pertinent comment by Chris L. that the Bush administration got the core of what it really wanted, which was an assurance that no money would go to the government. And while I agree with Chris that the Cuban baseball federation is not independent, the US government does allow various forms of limited trade that also face the same “fungibility” problem he refers to, and the Clinton administration allowed the games between the Cuban team and the Orioles without changing the basic embargo policy. So, an exception for baseball would hardly be “silly”–or even all that exceptional.
One of the core reform ideas of F&V is to expand the size of the US House, which has been fixed at 435 since 1912, when our country had only around 100 million residents. (Previous posts on the topic can be found by beginning at the “Re-sizing the House” link under “The Core” at the left, or by clicking on “Congress reform” at the top of this post.)
Just this week, I have encountered the issue twice. This morning, I was listening to the C-Span radio channel at XM and on Washington Journal, the guest was Bob Walker. Not the former Pirates pitcher, but the former congressman who is now a lobbyist (of course) with Wexler and Walker. One listener called in an asked what Walker thought about returning to selection of Senators by the state legislatures and increasing the size of the House. Walker responded by saying that eliminating direct election of Senators is a bad idea, but we ought to seriously consider increasing the size of the House. He noted that at about one representative per 750,000 persons, the districts are too large for effective representation. Indeed.
Earlier in the week, I received a phone call from a journalist with a major newspaper who wanted to talk to me about my interest in increasing the size of the House. He is writing a column that may appear Sunday, and if it does, I will link it here. He knew of me through this blog, and was quite interested in the “Wyoming Rule” that was discussed here previously, and I also referred him to the calculations posted at Poliblog (linked in an earlier post in this series) regarding what the resulting apportionment would mean for his readership’s state (and others).
One has to start somewhere, and now just this week the idea is appearing in two forums with rather broader readership/audience than this humble blog.
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