Not that there was ever doubt about the outcome, but a no-confidence motion introduced last week by the National Party was defeated on 22 February.
The Government easily won a confidence vote 61-50 at the end of the debate yesterday on the prime minister’s statement.
National and ACT supported the no confidence motion proposed by National’s leader Don Brash.
Opposing it were Labour, New Zealand First, United Future and the Progressive Party. The Greens and the Maori Party abstained.
The full text of the motion raises several issues, but the biggest has been some alleged violations of campaign-finance regulations by the Labour party in last year’s campaign. I have been following the controversy mainly via David Farrar–with some amusement, given that the supposed corruption seems like pretty small stuff compared to what we see routinely here, across the Pacific.
Quite refreshing to vote in a system in which I could feel my vote could actually count, because it’s not a winner-take-all system. Like Israel itself, the Zionist Congress uses large-district proportional representation.
The only drawback is that it is, again like Israel itself, closed-list PR. I don’t like not knowing the identity of the candidates for whom I am voting, or being able to distinguish among them. And Hatikva is not a party, but a coalition, and we like Meretz (the party I have long thought I would vote for were I Israeli, though that is not based on lots of information, because I’m not) better than the other members. But these are details. Every vote counts in this election. What a radical concept!
Thanks to Jewschool* for the hat tip on the very existence of this election (though I vaguely recall reading it some time ago in a synagogue bulletin).
A final observation about the process is that, while the list of slates vaguely parallels the party options in Israel, there is one gaping hole: No Kadima. The registration process began last summer–eons ago in the evolution of Israeli politics.
Speaking of the real Israeli election, the lists (31 in all) and their candidates have been posted by the Knesset.
* The debate in the comments to that Jewschool post is quite interesting.
In the last few weeks, I have noticed on several checks of my Sitemeter details that quite a few folks have found F&V via a search for “low chill cherry.” This planting is for you.
Yes, there are low-chill cherries! They might not be the heaviest bearing in our climate, but I can attest that you can grow cherries here! ‘Stella’ and ‘Lapins’ are said by some not to require chill at all. This may be true of other self-fruitful cherries as well (i.e. those that do not need to be cross-pollinated). And a new variety, ‘Royal Rainier,’ is listed by Dave Wilson Nursery as needing only 400 hours. The flavor of the ‘Royal Rainier’ is spectacular!
I have had both ‘Stella’ and ‘Royal Rainier’ fruit here, but then the winter after which they fruited probably experienced 550-600 chill hours at the bottom row where I “cheat” on chill. I also had ‘Stella’ fruit one year in the usually lower-chill environment of Carlsbad, but that was an unusually cold winter (maybe 600 hours). In other words, I cannot personally vouch that these will fruit at 400 (or less), but there is growing evidence from experience by various growers that at least these three varieties just might be suitable to mild-winter climates.
I am still evaluating other self-fruitful varieties, including ‘Craig’s Crimson’ (a top taste-test scorer, but no bloom since planting three years ago) and ‘White Gold’ (a Stella cross that I planted a year ago) to see if they might fruit here. I also have a ‘Bing’ (700 hours and not self-fruitful) just for the fun of it. So far, the ‘Bing’ has not bloomed, but it is growing well. Often deciduous trees that do not get their nedded chill will not even have good foliar growth, so I am still hopeful that the lushness and vigor are harbingers of fruit as the tree matures.
At the propagation bench, Doug asks a good question: How can you lose chill hours? It is not that you lose them. As I mention in the planting to which Doug was responding (and also the subsequent one about the return of winter), nothing gained in chill is lost. If you reach 400, no matter how warm it may be between the day you got to 400 and the time the tree is ready to break dormancy, you’ve got your 400.
But the question really comes down to the following. If you have 400 on some date, and then it gets very warm, and then later there is another cold snap (like right now at Ladera Frutal), what is your total chill accumulation at the end of the cold snap?
Let’s say you have 400 hours, and then the warm spell is a net â€“50. Then the next cold snap is another +100. Then it warms up for good. How much chill did you get for the winter?
400? 500? 450?
The best answer (though one cannot say “right” because these are all just estimates anyway, as even the experts admit) would be straightforward arithmetic:
In other words, you did not lose anything. In fact, you still had a net gain. But you can’t add the 100 on top of the 400, without accounting for the week (or however long it might have been) of negative chill.
I like to think of the negative hours as marking time. Warm spells in winter put the tree closer to breaking dormancy, whether or not its chill requirement has been met. So, those 50 negative hours make it harder for the tree to meet its 500 requirement, but if the warm spell is not too long, and you get that late cold snap, there might still be time to get back on track for 500. But now you need 150 since the previous peak, not 100.
That’s why it is so hard to get 500+ chill hours in most of southern California. It is not that it is not cold enough. It is that you get a sequence of cold, warm, cold, hot, cold, etc.
The new electoral system is unusual in one respect: It allows parties the option of presenting either a closed or an open list–that is, of determining prior to the election the order in which its candidates will be elected to any seats the party might win, or allowing ‘preference votes’ cast by voters to determine which candidates from their list will fill the seats. This is the first such ‘optional-list’ case in the world, to my knowledge. (Denmark allows parties to present any of several different types of preferential lists, but not a closed list.)
It is quite interesting to see the patterns that have emerged in terms of what parties are presenting what list type where. I have begun only a preliminary analysis, which will appear as part of a chapter about the electoral reform in a forthcoming edited volume on Colombia. I will provide an excerpt below, which I just inserted into the semi-final draft of the chapter last week.
First, the ballot format is quite interesting. Check out the senate ballot (rather large jpeg). The senate is elected in a single national district of 100 seats. (There is also a single district for two reserved seats for indigenous, in which any voter may vote instead of in the general district; see Parte B at the bottom of the ballot.)
On the ballot are the party names and symbols (and some of them are pretty interesting!). And then there is an indication as to whether the list allows a voto preferente–a vote for a specific candidate within the list (which is optional for the voter, even if he or she selects one of the open lists). Below the party symbols are spaces to mark the number of a candidate in the respective list (if it is open). As you can see, the choices go up to 100, because some parties have nominated a full slate of 100 candidates (although, as noted below, some have not). The voter needs to know the number of her or his favored candidate (although I assume this information is also posted somewhere at the polling place).
There is also a page with links to images of the ballots in the various districts in the House of Representatives (all somewhat smaller jpegs), for example, BoyacÃ¡ (check out the goofy symbol for Movimiento Apertura Liberal!).
Most of the major senate lists will be open, while most of the house lists will be closed. I can’t say I anticipated this, … [UPDATE: Well, there is a good reason I did not anticipate it--"it" is wrong. Most House lists are also open.]
but it does have a certain logic to it. Many parties are still going to be dominated by local bosses (caciques), even if those bosses now have had to cooperate with others in order to craft lists that can gain the higher vote share needed to guarantee representation under the new PR system, compared to the old SNTV rules. House lists are shorter (because magnitude is lower) and the disitricts coincide with the departments, and hence each has a local political process of its own. So, at least in some parties [but many fewer than I originally thought], it was possible for a few local leaders to come together and agree on a list of candidates and rank them, thereby determining which candidates will be elected (if they obtain their expected vote share). In the Senate, on the other hand, with a nationwide district and lots of local interests to bargain over list construction, most parties would simply find it less costly to simply let the voters–and the various local leaders who will mobilize them–determine the order, rather than to broker the order of such a long list and among so many contending groups. In the larger parties, there will be plenty of seats to go around to satisfy the major leaders. (The ones that expect a smaller number of seats, on the other hand, are more likely to have presented a closed list; likely middle-sized lists, such as the leftist Polo DemocrÃ¡tico, tended to present open lists but not with the full 100 candidates that they could have nominated.) [The logic of list construction discussed for the Senate, it turns out, also seems to have applied for most lists in the House.]
Following is the description of the patterns in more detail, from the chapter. (more…)
The deal that was brokered to end the crisis in Haiti over whether there would be a presidential runoff was a classic example of what in Bolivia would be called a salida–a way out that satisfies the main players, even if it bends or breaks the formal rules of the game. I suppose there is a Haitian Creole word for the same phenomenon, but for the time being I will go with French sortie.
“They thrashed through the different proposals and eventually settled on a formula for handling blank votes that is applied in Belgium…”
Other than that the deal was over apportioning “blank” ballots, and that doing so took Rene Preval from just under to just over the 50%+1 threshold to win without a runoff, the Times is not very clear on what the ‘Belgian Option’ is.
Thanks to Google, I turned up the following from Indybay. Apparently, the deal concerns an interpretation of what is a “null” ballot vs. what is a “blank” ballot and how to consider them in the denominator for purposes of calculating whether a candidate has cleared the threshold. This distinction is made in several Latin American elections laws, with null referring to ballots on which the voter intent can not be discerned (“overvoted,” improperly marked, spoiled, etc.), as opposed to ballots that actually contain no mark for the office in question (“undervoted”).
Electoral officials have discarded 147,765 votes, over 7% of the total, as “null.” Article 185 of the Electoral Code allows officials to nullify ballots if they “cannot recognize the intention or political will of the elector.”
But 147,765 voided votes is a high number, suspiciously high since the decision to nullify was made by local officials handpicked by an Electoral Council that had no representation from Prevalâ€™s Lespwa party or Lavalas. Overly strict criterion (such as requiring an â€œxâ€ to be completely within a candidateâ€™s box), even if neutrally applied, would have had a disproportionate impact on poor voters, who are more unused to filling out forms than their better-heeled compatriots, and therefore more likely to make mistakes.
Another group of votes, 85,290, or 4.6% of he total valid votes, are classified as blank ballots. These votes were actually counted against Preval, because under the election law they are included in the total number of valid votes that provides the baseline for the 50% threshold. This is a potentially reasonable system, just unreasonably applied to Haiti. In principle the system allows voters to show their displeasure with all the candidates by voting for no one, which can make sense in places where voting is easier. In practice the system makes no sense in Haiti- it is absurd to think that 85,000 people, many without enough to eat, would leave their babies, their fields and other work and spend hours walking or waiting in the tropical heat just to say they did not like any of the 33 candidates. A more likely explanation is that some voters got confused by the complicated ballots and marked nothing. Again, this problem would disproportionately affect poor voters likely to vote for Preval.
The null votes could have been rechecked through a procedure that applied consistent rules across the country. The null ballots are supposed to be segregated in a separate envelope, so it would be easy to go through the envelopes from a few Bureaus, to ascertain whether there were enough improperly nullified ballots to justify a comprehensive review. If Preval could have added 22,500 votes to his lead from the 147,000 null votes, this alone would have put him over the top.
The Chosen Solution
The negotiators, instead of correcting the tabulation, decided to change the rules for the calculation of blank votes. They allotted blank votes to the candidatesâ€™ totals proportionately to each oneâ€™s existing vote share. So Preval got 48.7% of the blank votes, Manigat 12%, etc., which pushed Preval up over the 50% bar. This solution does make sense- it assumes, probably correctly, that the blank votes resulted from confusion, and allocates the votes accordingly. The result is the same as if the CEP simply discarded the blank votes, and treated them the same as null votes.
The Indybay report–which is really thorough and interesting, and recommended to anyone interested in this election–goes on to comment:
But what is sensible is not always what is legal.
Indeed. That is the very essence of a salida/sortie.
Some countries, such as Colombia, attempt to get around this problem by actually requiring a voter to make a mark on the ballot to vote “en blanco”–essentially a “none of the above” option. These votes are counted in the calculation of the threshold or quota for the given election, while spoiled (null) ballots are not. (See the Colombian ballot for the upcoming legislative election for an example.*)
Quite apart from the oxymoron of having to mark a ballot in order to leave it “blank,” the Colombian ballot design makes sense.
Of course, Haiti could have avoided a runoff crisis altogether by adopting a rule in the first place that allows a plurality to suffice if the runner up is far back in the field, as I discussed previously, in comparison to the Costa Rican election (two candidates each just above 40%, yet no runoff likely).
But as Indybay notes, ideally rules should be changed before elections, in anticipation of sensible ways to prevent crises, not to resolve crises after them.
The NYT finally notices.* They cite the analysis of “Jarrett Blanc, the American elections expert” (and who works with IFES, a fine organization):
The lesson is that the way a new election law turns votes into representatives â€” the fine print of election laws â€” can have as much of an impact on who will be running a country as an occupying army.
That observation has implications far beyond the Palestinian vote, particularly for countries like the United States and other Western nations that seek to promote new democracies.
Uh, yeah. That pretty much sums up the mission of the V side of F&V. The article is oriented primarily around the Hamas “landslide” and makes points about so-called bloc voting (MNTV) that legions of regular readers of F&V have known since before the election. (If you missed it, just click on “Palestine” at the top of this post, then scroll down and have fun!)
* A full week after I said precisely the same thing about the Jerusalem Post. Somtimes, even in the 21st century, news travels slowly.
No, those aren’t patches of snow under those deciduous trees just outside the corralito, but there was a pretty good frost this morning, and even as late as 8:00, the areas shaded by the grapefruit trees still were frosty.
I had feared we’d never get to 500 chill hours, which is the minimum required by many of our deciduous fruit trees. Chilling, by my estimate, had reached about 406 on Feby. 7, and then came the big warm up. In fact, for about a week we had classic southern California fire weather.
Not only fire weather, with the high temperatue breaking 80 six times in a nine-day span (and reaching 90 twice), with low relative humidities in the single digits, but an actual fire. The photo above is taken about a week after a fire on the canyon wall opposite the house. I was not here when the fire occurred, and did not even notice it till my grove worker pointed it out days later. But that’s a scar on the canyon wall that will be there a while. (At the bottom of the canyon is, or was, a small seasonal lake in the creekbed that the fire-fighting helicopters nearly drain whenever there is a fire in the area. It is quite an operation to watch. Yes, SD County finally invested in fire-fighting helicopters after the disastrous fires of October, 2003.)
So, about that chill. Even after a week of fire weather, we’re back up to 460 hours, having bottomed out at 389 during the warm spell. We had not had a day all winter long when the daytime temperature peaked before reaching 60, and now we have had two in a row, with another likely today. (Highs below 60 are not very common here, but most winters we have a few such days in late December or in January.)
With a week of cold nights and moderately warm days forecast, we might yet break 500 hours! And, despite a few blooms here and there, most of the higher-chill varieties appear to have remained dormant. (In warm spells late in the winter, even trees that have not met their chilling requirement sometimes send out a few blooms, as if to say “we think it might be spring,” but if they start pushing out leaf buds before the chill has been avhieved, they will not bloom well and thus may have little or no fruit. Several trees with chill requirements estimated at 5-600 hours have had a bloom or two since the first few days of this month.)
The low chill stuff is all a-bloom by now, and you can see the Tropic Snow peach in the second photo: Just look for the profusion of pink just above the white fence on the slope. By now, it is past full bloom. Still holding out hope for the stuff down at the corralito.
So, why are so many so-called conservatives in the Republican party and in sympathizing legal circles so willing to advance a doctrine that asserts that the US president has sweeping inherent powers in times of war–even wars declared, paraconstitutionally, by the president himself? Or perhaps herself? Steven Taylor alludes to this puzzle in a post from 16 February, effectively asking those on the right whether they really are willing to countenance the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton or other Democrat might be able to assert such powers.
Ever since the theory of the “unitary executive” (which really ought to be called the unilateral executive) first came to my attention, I have wondered the same thing. But only after reading Steven’s post and pondering it over the last few days did it dawn on me that the answers to this puzzle have been right there in both my own body of academic work, and in a simple understanding of the ideology and constituency base of the Democratic party, as well is in structural conditions that make a politically supported unilateral Democratic President highly improbable. Republicans presumably know how implausible a unilateral President Clinton is, and thus do not fear her.
The broad outline of the connections to my academic work is that certain types of politicians favor a programmatically weak legislature alongside a unilateral executive. A programmatic legislature is one that passes detailed legislation with universal application, which in turn requires that it control the process of implementation to ensure that the executive follows the programmatic mandate. A non-programmatic legislature is one that is more interested in setting broad parameters than in the details of policy, and that is also relatively more inclined to the use of the pork barrel and other means of targeting benefits at the service of powerful constituent groups and campaign contributors. It is no accident, then, that the Republican congress has greatly increased the use of earmarks and established ever-closer relations with big-business lobbies, at the same time that it advances a “theory” of a unilateral executive that can selectively reinterpret statutes and selectively implement them. But all of this concerns domestic policy-making, not foreign policy or the domestic arm of “national security” actions. It is on the latter that I want to keep this post focused.*
The reasons why Republicans need not fear that the expansive inherent powers they are asserting on behalf of the Bush administration in the area of “national security” will come back to haunt them post-Bush have to do with the preferences of the parties and their support bases, and closely related matters such as their internal discipline. They also have to do with structural features of the US political system that make a unilateral Democratic presidency unlikely, even if my assessment of partisan differences were to prove incorrect.
I will list these factors in rough descending order of importance to the question of whether a future Democratic president would be likely to assert inherent “national security” powers such as those being asserted by the current administration, and whether such assertions, if they happened, would harm Republican interests.
1. In the area of foreign policy, Democrats and their supporters do not have an agenda of Global Domination, or more precisely, imperialism. It is not that Democrats are not in favor of advancing the interests of US capital and “security” abroad. It is that they prefer to do so in a tandem with other countries and international organizations while also promoting broader conceptions of the US “national interest.” Republicans know this, and hence a stronger presidency in “national security” policy is not against Republican interests, independently of any given incumbent’s party. Arguably, such a strong presidency, regardless of party, is even in favor of those interests, inasmuch as a presidency with unilateral foreign-policy powers but held by a party whose supporters do not endorse such policies is more capable of acting against the preferences of its own support base.
2. In the domestic side of US “national security” policy, Democrats’ support base would abandon a president, even of their own party, who pursued an expansive invasion of basic civil liberties at home. The Republican party contains principled conservatives (really, they are liberals stuck in the wrong party by the two-party straightjacket) who value civil liberties. But they tend to fall in line behind their party and president on essential matters of inter-partisan conflict (recent example: Specter and others voting for Judge Alito). Democrats would not fall in line. Republicans know this.
3. Somewhat in tension with my first point, while in further development of my second point, party discipline in congress–or at least the absence of clearly articulated opposition from congress–is essential to anything other than short-term unilateral action by the executive. That is, it is one thing to act unilaterally without prior explicit authorization from congress, but another to sustain such action in the face of opposition. So, while a president may be able to act in the short term against her support base or against the manifest wishes of congress (which was my first point), she cannot do so in the longer run unless she has support in the legislature and in her own party, and my second point was that a Democratic president would be unlikely to have such support within her party.
So, taken together, the first three points say that a Democratic president would have a different set of foreign-policy preferences, a lack of intra-partisan support for assertions of extraordinary “national security” powers at home, and could not do these things anyway without such support. But suppose I am wrong and a future President Clinton (or Kerry or Warner, or whoever) does want to take advantage of unilateral powers and does enjoy partisan backing. What are the chances that the conditions that came together to allow Bush to assert such powers would prevail for Clinton (or another Democrat)? Not very.
4. A Democrat is less likely to enjoy unified government, yet support by majorities in both houses is essential to the employment of unilateral powers for partisan gain, and that really is the issue here. If Republicans favor a Democratic president’s assertion of unilateralism, no problem. The risk for them is that a Democrat uses these powers against Republicans and Republican policy preferences much as the Bush administration has used them against Democratic policy preferences. A president facing divided government could not do so. Republicans know this. The House and Senate are somewhat unlikely both to turn Democratic, except perhaps precariously and for short periods (2006-08 or -10?). Partly this assessment is due to gerrymandering (in the House), malapportionment (especially in the Senate, but over time, increasingly so in the House), and partly it is due to campaign-finance imbalances, and the rampant use of earmarks to cement critical local financial support. Democrats are somewhat unlikely to take and hold both houses for more than a term or two, but let’s suppose that they do hold congressional majorities for an extended time. If they do, it will be with a broad an internally diverse party, because the party would have to expand its reach and its “big tentness” in order to secure these majorities (which then gets us back to point 3). Republicans know this.
5. As the Supreme Court becomes ever-more partisan, a Democratic president is less likely to obtain judicial backing for an assertion of disputed unilateral powers, even if that president wants to, even if the Democratic party does not turn on the president for doing so, and even if the party remains unified and controls both houses of Congress. The Court remains an ultimate check on a Democratic president pursuing a narrow partisan agenda with the aid of unilateral powers. Republicans know this.
6. Finally, Democrats can win presidential elections under current conditions only in close contests. The playing field, especially with the electoral college, is stacked against them unless they “run the table” of the most critical swing states, as Gore did in 2000. And we know how that turned out. If you can win only close elections, but it is precisely in those close elections that the other party has the advantages of partisan control of swing-state electoral authorities, and at the end of the day, the Supreme Court, the only Democrat who can win is one who has a broad mandate, and not one with a narrow partisan agenda, a la Bush. Republicans know this.
For a variety of reasons, both partisan and structural, the probability of a Democratic president seeking to assert expansive “wartime” powers abroad and domestically and having the partisan, congressional, and judicial backing to do this against Republican interests is low. I do not know how low, but it is too low to offset the considerable gains they obtain from having one of their own assert such powers. And Republicans know this.
*I have already presented some elements of the domestic-politics side of this story to a degree, in my post on the “Latin Americanization” of the US presidency. There I focused more on the executive itself, and less on the legislature or why some politicians–even legislators–would actually favor such a presidency. Here I want to focus on the partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans, and why these differences mean that Republicans have little to fear from the specter that a future Democratic president might use the unilateral powers in the area of “national security” that this administration claims are inherent.
Thanks to Wilfred Day (in the comments to my previous post on the Hamas sweep of many districts) for pointing out that the Jerusalem Post finally noted that it was the electoral system, not the voters, that gave Hamas its “landslide” and how a proportional system would have made a tremendous difference. (Emphasis mine)
PART OF the post-election discussions concentrated on the election law, in which 50% were elected proportionally and 50% from local districts. A polling expert speaking at the Ramallah conference said that a number of Fatah candidates should be given a medal by Hamas for rejecting Mahmoud Abbasâ€™s desire for a 100% proportional representation system. If that was the law of the elections Hamas might have gotten a few more seats than Fatah, but overall Fatah and its independent and left-wing coalition partners could easily have formed a majority government.
A change in the election format would have resolved a major problem for Fatah. Having so many Fatah candidates run as independents (because they were not chosen to be on the official roster) meant that thousands of votes for the district seats were wasted. In Jerusalem, Bilal Natashe, a Fatah leader, told me that the lost votes amounted to a total of 37,000 – more than enough to have resulted in all Fatah candidates to win. In Bethlehem Fatah received more votes on the national lists, but still lost all their district seats except those earmarked as part of the Christian quota. . .
This month there have been two presidential elections in the Americas under different rules requiring a second round (runoff) under certain conditions. In one, there will almost certainly not be a runoff, while in the other there may be. Yet in the one in which there probably will not be a runoff, the election was extremely close and a runoff could change the outcome. In the one where there may be a runoff, the leading candidate is far ahead, and a runoff almost certainly would be superfluous.
Results from Haiti’s February 6 election remain provisional, but Rene Preval is hovering right around half the votes. BBC (seen on PoliBlog) reports there might be a runoff, with Preval currently at 49.6% of the votes. This result is with 72% of the vote counted. The runner up, Leslie Manigat1, is at 11.6%.
In other words, in Haiti, there could be a runoff between a candidate who very narrowly missed a majority and a candidate trailing him by thirty eight percentage points. Why? Because the Haitian constitution mandates a runoff unless the leading candidate has at least one more than half the votes in the first round.
Meanwhile, Costa Ricans await the results of their presidential election, held the day before Haiti’s. The leading candidate, Oscar Arias SÃ¡nchez, has 40.5% of the votes, according to preliminary results posted by the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (via Adam Carr). The runner up, Otton SolÃs Fallas, has 40.3%. There will not be a runoff if this result holds, even though the leading candidate is nearly ten percentage points short of a majority and leads his main challenger by only two tenths of a percent (3,250 votes). Why? Because under the Costa Rican constitution, a runoff is held only if the winner of a plurality of the vote has less than 40%.
So, the Haitian first-round result is by any standard decisive, and if Preval really is that close to 50% there is almost no chance whatsoever that a runoff could lead to Preval’s defeat. But in Costa Rica, there is a very good chance that a runoff could produce a different result, but there will not be one (unless, of course, the recount puts both candidates below 40%).
There are better ways to determine when a plurality is sufficient and when there should be a top-two runoff. For instance, the double complement rule, first proposed in 1994 by Rein Taagepera and yours truly (in Comparative Political Studies). Under the DCR, in any election in which no candidate obtains over 50%+1, there is a runoff if (and only if) the second candidate’s shortfall from majority is less than double that of the leader.
In other words, if the leader has 44%, he is six percentage points short of 50%. There would be a runoff if the second-place candidate had more than 38%, which is double the leader’s shortfall from majority. If the second candidate is under 38%, the election is over in one round, with the leader’s 44% sufficing. Obviously, the gap required between the top two candidates to avoid a runoff shrinks as the leader approaches 50% and increases as the leading candidate’s plurality decreases–as it should. So with a leading candidate at 40%, there would be a runoff unless the second candidate had less than 30%.
The DCR is not actually used anywhere, but it was the inspiration behind the rule adopted in 1994 in Argentina when that country junked its US-style electoral college. The Argentine rule is a bit more complex. A leading candidate with 45% wins in one round under any circumstances, even if the runner-up is at 44.99%. And less than 40% for the first candidate necessitates a runoff no matter how far the runner-up trails. But in between 40% and 45%, the first round is decisive only if the leading candidate has a ten-percentage-point lead over the runner-up.
The spirit is the same as the DCR, in that the Argentine rule says that what matters is not so much the absolute share of the votes (unless it is over 50% of course), but how successful the leader is at building a majority-approaching coalition relative to the competition. A similar rule is used in Ecuador2, as well as some Argentine provinces and for Uruguayan presidential primaries.
The DCR or any of the existing “qualified plurality” rules would be better than the majority-runoff rule, which may still give Haiti a runoff it does not need, or the 40% rule, which will not give Costa Rica a runoff it arguably should have.
1. Don’t feel to bad for Manigat if he does not get to play in a runoff. In 1988, he narrowly averted a runoff with 50.2% and a runner up at 19.7%. So he’s been on both sides of this wide-first-round-lead thing. (Of course, about six months after his decisive win he was sent off into exile.)
2. In Ecuador, the leading candidate must have at least 40% and a ten-point lead; unlike in Argentina, 45% with a smaller lead is not good enough. There is a similar provision in the Nicaraguan constitution, where the president needs 40% or 35% with a lead of at least five percentage points.
Epilogue: I might also note that today happens to be the birthday of the man who won the US presidency with the smallest plurality in history. Lincon had only 39.9% of the popular vote in 1860. The runner-up, Stephen Douglas had 29.5%. Lincoln’s plurality would have just barely sufficed under the DCR, but obviosuly not under Haitian rules and would have been just barely insufficient under Costa Rican rules.
Fruits and Votes just completed its first six months of existence. The first post in the fruit block (actually a bit under six months ago) was about the last pluot of the 2005 season. Now, with a very warm week having come to an end, it seems that the chill count that started in early December has probably come to and end. Will we get any pluots in 2006?
This was quite a mild winter, even by our standards. And while we could still get more chill hours before some varieties break dormancy, the warm spell (up to 90 one day, and four straight over 80) means quite a setback in the accumulation of chilling. At this point, I would estimate the peaks to have been 200 up high on Ladera Frutal and 400 down at the bottom of the hill. That is, of course, an amazing difference, and really shows how elevation matters. These two locations are not far apart horizontally, but are separated vertically: the lower portion is over 150 feet lower on a steep slope than is the upper location.
Still, 400 is not enough for many of the varieties planted down in a location that is expected to get 500 or more. With 404 hours of chill having been reached, according to my calculations, on 8 February, we are now back closer to 390 after the warm spell. Any variety growing down at the elevation for which 400 is sufficient has thus had its chilling requirement satisfied, but the prospects for further significant gains above 400 seem bleak this late in the season. Up higher on the slope, the 200 peak was reached on 5 February, and with the warmer nights higher up the hill combined with the warm days, that location is at only 166 hours now. Surely, chilling accumulation has ended there, but most of the varieties planted there require 300 or less. (The Arctic Star nectarine is listed at 300 hours in catalogs, but looks ready to burst into full bloom, so it must be lower.*)
Some varieties of pluots need 500 hours, and so we might have a lighter crop this year. It is possible that my “cheating” on chill has allowed the row closest to the taller grapefruit trees to have obtained closer to 500 hours.
And there are some encouraging signs. There is a bloom already on the Autumn Glo apricot, a late-fruiting variety that is said to need at least 500 hours. There are also several blooms on one pluot, the Geo Pride. So far, these varieties–both of which are located in the cheating row–are not showing a lot of swelling buds and so it remains unclear whether they will bloom fully, or are just sending out “feelers” to see if spring is really here (groundhog blooms?). Even without adequate chill, a stone fruit tree will break dormancy when it has accumulated some (unkown) number of “warm hours” whether or not it has had the adequate accumulation of chill hours. But only with the chilling requirement met will it bloom fully and set a good crop of fruit.
* Assuming my estimation technique is reasonably accurate. Given many years of experience with it, I think it is as good as any other estimates available.
This blog has just completed its first six months of existence. And in the votes realm of Fruits and Votes, what an amazing half-year it has been! I have followed elections around the world for a long time–almost as long as I can remember, really–and while I never before have written about elections as they happen, I am fairly confident that it has been a very long time since there were so many extremely close, surprising, or otherwise remarkable elections in a six-month period. (more…)
“Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?” Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. “Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?”
Barr answered in the affirmative. “Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country?” he posed. “I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes.”
But nobody said anything in the deathly quiet audience.
The audience was, however, far more enthusiastic for Dick Cheney’s plans to use illegal surveillance as a campaign issue:
With an important election coming up, people need to know just how we view the most critical questions of national security.
That is today’s “conservative” movement: More comfortable with authoritarians like Cheney than with the real thing.
Then there is Viet Dinh:
The threat to Americans’ liberty today comes from al Qaeda and its associates and the people who would destroy America and her people, not the brave men and women who work to defend this country!
Al Qaeda cannot destroy “America and her people.” Only her people, and leaders her people refuse to check, can do that. Barr knows that, and as he left the event, he said:
I just told them what they need to know… It’s difficult… It’s not about sex, which was very easy to explain.
In the last week I have added one new feature here and tweaked the blogroll.
To the blogroll, I have made some additions and also deleted some links. I have added several blogs that are based in New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and other countries whose politics I follow, as well as some non-Israeli blogs with Jewish perspectives. I will probably continue adding more.
I have deleted some blogs that seem not to be updated regularly as well as any blogs that are too partisan for my taste, though I have made exceptions for partisan blogs by academics as long as there is some actual academic content (by my own assessment). But, as an unremitting yet nonpartisan critic of the Party of Power in my own country, I have no desire to read content that is blindly supportive of the Party (again, in my assessment) or that takes the simplistic view that everything would be better if only the major opposition party somehow came back to power.
I suspect I use the blogroll far more than any readers do, so if I don’t like a blog, why blogroll it?
UPDATE: Christian Johnson offers some thoughts at Cinerati on the question with which I ended the original post.
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