Also not terribly relevant, legally. The French president has no veto. While his failure to sign it would have been symbolically and poltically significant, parliament would have been within its rights to promulgate the very same bill even if Chirac had demurred.
And, given that Chirac’s party has a majority, and that it is, um, The Union for a Presidential Majority, one might conclude that the incumbent president and the current National Assembly majority tend to have somewhat similar preferences.
What I do not follow in the above-linked BBC story is this:
Mr Chirac promised to modify two of the law’s most controversial clauses.
A French version of the signing statement? The story goes on to describe a couple of substantive provisions. But, procedurally, how can he modify the bill? Presumably with ordinances needed to implement it. Lots of French laws are vague and leave plenty of room for executive implementation; in fact, the French constitution, unlike the American one, explicitly sets the policy-making process up that way. Those ordinances technically must come from the cabinet, not the president. But, in France, the cabinet is whatever the National Assembly wants it to be, and we’ve already been over that Presidential Majority thing.
The results show only marginal change from what was reported within a day of the election, and are also close to the exit-poll estimates. The Party of Regions, headed by Viktor Yanukovych, ended up with 32.1% of the votes. The Yulia Tymoshenko bloc took 22.3% and Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine won 13.9%. The Socialist party obtained 5.7%.
While Yanukovych’s support grew and Yushchenko’s declined as votes came in more slowly from the east and south, the ultimate impact was not that great (as can be seen by the previous post where I tracked progress in the count). As the final 39% of votes were counted, Yanukovych’s grew by just under 10% (not percentage points!), Yushchenko’s and the Socialists’ declined by just over 11%, but Tymoshenko’s barely changed at all (-1.6%). That her share stayed largely constant even as later votes counted were more likely to be from the east suggests she is much more of a bridge between east and west Ukraine than her image outside the country as the more radical leader would imply. She is, after all, from the east (specifically, Dnipropetrovsk, where Yanukovych won over 60% of the vote, even in the “clean” final round of the 2004 election).
I have not yet seen preliminary seat estimates, but the calculation of seats in a single nationwide proportional election (with 3% threshold) is straightforward. Regions should have about 186 seats, Tymoshenko about 129, and Our Ukraine about 81. When combined with the 32 (or so) seats won by the Socialist Party, the three parties most identified with the Orange Revolution will have a reasonably comfortable majority of about 243 seats (54%).
[UPDATE, 2 April: Although results are not yet official, a 31 March Kyiv Post article offers seat estimates that agree with those in my paragraph immediately above.]
As I have noted before, despite its rather poor performance, Our Ukraine will remain pivotal. If it wants to reassemble the Orange coalition, that will happen, and Yanukovych’s plurality will be irrelevant. If instead it opts for a grand coalition with Yanukovych, that, too, amounts to a majority.
The only other party to cross the 3% threshold was the Communists, whose 3.7% of the vote should be good for about 21 seats. (Ultranationalist Vitrenko got 2.9%, former parliament speaker Lytvyn’s list got only 2.4%, and 1.8% voted “against all these parties”–all forty five, that is.)
It is worth putting this result in perspective. The table below shows the percentages of votes for the major parties in the just-completed elections in comparison to the 2004 presidential and 2002 parliamentary elections. For 2004, the first round, which was a multicandidate field, is more comparable to a multiparty parliamentary election than the runoff, although the latter is also shown.
As the table clearly shows (and shows even more clearly if you click on it to open up a larger version in a new window) Yanukovych’s 32.1% is down considerably from the 41.4% he (supposedly) won in the first round of the presidential election. This was the basis for my “stunning defeat” headline a few days ago.
However, parliamentary elections are almost always more fragmented than presidential elections (where even for the first of two rounds, we see more alliance building before the election), so the table also allows a comparison only to those parties that cleared the 3% threshold. Looked at this way, Yanukovych ran in place. In either case, the typical media line, at least initially, of a great comeback is hardly supported.
Anyway one looks at it, the two main parties that backed Yushchenko’s candidacy in 2004 outpolled Yanukovych in this election, although given that they did not run a pre-election alliance, there is no guarantee that they will resume governing together. Once again, it is Our Ukraine that will decide that.
The comparison with the previous parliamentary election, in 2002, underscores the extent to which Tymoshenko is really the big winner, and also the extent to which the electoral reform has made a dramatic difference. In 2002, the system was mixed-member majoritarian (or parallel), with 225 single-seat districts (plurality rule) and a 225-seat proportional tier (4% threshold).
In 2002, the party supporting then-President Kuchma (who had groomed Yanukovych as his successor) was significantly overrepresented, because it was one of the few parties running under a label that performed well in the single-seat districts. In other words, it had many more local candidates who were personally popular enough (probably more so than their own party, which commanded only 12.6% of the list vote) to win individual races than did other parties. But this greatly underestimates the extent to which Kuchma (and Yanukovych) were advantaged by the old electoral system, because over one fifth of the members of the parliament elected in 2002 (and, therefore, over 40% of the members elected in single-seat districts) were independents using no party label at all. Many of these collaborated with the administration.
On the other hand, the Tymoshenko bloc and the Socialists were significantly underrepresented in 2002, relative to their list votes, on account of their lesser ability to prevail in local candidate-based races in single-seat districts.
The new electoral system has forced the former independents to declare a party label and to obtain a ranking on a (closed) party list in order to remain in parliament. While it could be said, as the Guardian reported, that
What is most disappointing is that the election campaign remained as personalised and populist as ever, despite a switch to a fully proportional electoral system,
that is only partly true. Yes, these parties ran as the vehicles of known national leaders and not as the clear programmatic organizations expected from a western European perspective. Further, these leaders can be expected to hold tremendous clout over their caucuses, because deputies will owe their election (and possible reelection) to their placement on the list. Nonetheless, the electoral system created a national contest for parliament, somewhat mirroring the presidential contest of 2004 (as the table above shows), and largely ratifying its basic result.
In that sense, the election was a victory for the Orange Revolution and a confirmation of the virtual stasis of Yanukovych’s support–and thus a clear democratic outcome that would have been hidden by the former electoral system and its separate district races for half the seats.
While a 450-seat national closed list is not an electoral system I would ever advise any country to adopt, it served well in the 2006 Ukrainian election.
Thanks to the wonders of the “incoming links” function of Word Press (powered by Technorati), I just became aware of a relatively new blog on the block: Two Weeks Notice. Great name, given that the blogger is Professor Greg Weeks, a political scientist at UNC, Charlotte.
Not only does Weeks increase the still-too-small presence of political science in the blogosphere, but it gets better: Greg’s field is comparative politics, a field shown by Steven Taylor’s Blogging Political Scientists Census to be considerably underrepresented.
Welcome, Professor Weeks!
Oh, and he’s also from San Diego and is a fan of the Padres (otherwise known as the next best thing to being a fan of the Angels).
[Programming note: In addition to following the Israeli results, I am also following the much-slower-to-come-in Ukrainian results, updating periodically as more protocols are processed. Granted, Ukraine is vastly larger than Israel, and has less experience with election administration. But given that, like Israel, it is now a single nationwide PR election, it should not take this long to count!]
What a crushing defeat for Bibi and Likud!
29 March. The count has now reached 99%. The Knesset representation appears to be shaping up as follows. I have edited the seat totals, and also the analysis below.
Israel Beitenu: 12
NRP / NU: 9
United Torah Judaism: 6
United Arab List: 4
Wow. I was prepared for the possibility that Israel Beiteinu might pass Likud, but I was not expecting Shas to do so as well!
So, if these are accurate as a projection of the final official result, Kadima + Labor would be thirteen seats short of a majority, which can count only as a disappointing result. The inclusion of Meretz (whose seats have fallen from five in earlier partial results) would Kadima + Labor within eight nine seats. Pensioners’ surprisingly strong showing (but now one seat less than earlier reported) would get the coalition to within two seats of a majority, but only the most bare one.
One of the religious parties will need to be brought in as well. I suspect that Shas is the least likely one, because its very strong showing will put it in a position to demand too much from its potential partners. Of course, if a deal is not struck with Pensioners for any reason, then it will take more than one of the religious parties.
For reasons discussed in comments earlier, NRP/NU is unlikely to be included. That would leave UTJ in a strong bargaining position as the most palatable coalition partner to get those last two (plus) seats needed.
UPDATE: Jonathan’s discussion of likely coalitions is well worth a read. I just posted a comment to it (which should appear over on the right sidebar here, under “cross pollination”). A really interesting angle here is the possibility of multi-level coalition bargaining, as in this Ha’aretz report that suggests Labor, Shas, and Pensioners may be forming a “social bloc” that would agree amongt themselves on some priorities and then negotiate as a bloc with Kadima. Very interesting (and, of course, denied by various alleged participants)!
[UPDATE: Actual results have since started coming in. I will put the rest of this planting "below the fold." The real action is in the newer planting, although some interesting ideas about some likely pivotal parties are propagated below, thanks to Vasi and Jonathan.] (more…)
A group of randomly selected Ontario residents will soon be asked to decide whether the province’s electoral system needs a shakeup.
The province said Monday it will convene a 103-member citizens’ assembly… If the group recommends a change, the government will then hold a referendum on the issue some time within its current mandate… Selection of panel members will begin this spring. [read more]
I have a longstanding fascination with small parties. And I don’t mean the US Green Party. It once had a candidate reach 2.7% of the nationwide vote. I mean really small.
This interest (like my fascination with most things electoral) goes back to when my mother was an election precinct Inspector for almost every election when I was a kid, and one of her duties before the election was to post the list of qualified write-in candidates outside our garage/polling place. That meant parties like Prohibition, Socialist Workers, etc.
Jewschool has a nice compilation of information and website links to the parties running in the Israeli election. An especially interesting contender:
Party for the Struggle with the Banks / Halev: Their website says â€œYou thought Hamas was dangerous? Thatâ€™s nothing compared to the banks!â€
Ukraine’s Central Election Commission lists several interesting tiny parties, none of which came even close to 1% of the vote. For instance: The Party of Putin’s Politics (apparently for those for whom Yanukovych was too much of a sellout); the Ukrainian Party of Honor, Combating Corruption and Organized Crime; and at least four greenish parties (The Party of Environmental Protection, a party called Green Planet, the Social-Environmental Party “Union.Chornobyl.Ukraine”, and, of course, the Green Party of Ukraine). Bringing up the rear, with 0.02% of the vote was Ahead, Ukraine.
Both countries’ voters have the option of voting for a pensioners’ party, but only Israelis have the possibility of expressing their support for Men’s Rights.
ANOTHER UPDATE 05:00 Kyiv time, 29 March. This will probably be my last update before the protocols processed finally reach 100%. Below you can see how the trends noted in the initial updates continue, but slowly. I do not see much likelihood that Regions will wind up at 33%, let alone the 35% that Dan, of Orange Ukraine, projected. The comment thread to Dan’s post is highly recommended for some regional data breakdowns provided there.
FURTHER UPDATE 20:16 Kyiv time, 28 March: Now with 87% counted, continued slippage for Orange, but still a clear majority (with Socialists); Regions (Yanukovych) still not quite at 31%. Updated figures below. Also, Dan McMinn says that there are pro-Ynaukovych areas that lag in the processing. He believes Regions will wind up around 35%. [Looking at the Ukrainian-language page he refers to, however, it does not appear to me that the processing lag is nearly as great as it was when Dan made that estimate, though it is indeed clear that some of the strongest Orange regions have reported more completely.] It is worth noting that even if it does wind up around 35%, Regions’ share would still be in line with the average pre-election estimates, and below the 2004 official first-round result. I will continue updating the numbers here periodcally.
UPDATE 02:42 Kyiv time, 28 March: The Regions share has been creeping upward, and the Orange shares downward, despite what I said earlier about the partial results probably not affecting Yanukovych’s total. I have updated the numerical estimates, and will do so as time permits until final results are known. Although the changes in votes are minor in themselves, they appear to be just enough to deny the two largest Orange parties a majority in parliament without also bringing in the Socialists.
Yes, of course, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions won a plurality of votes in Ukraine’s parliamentary election on Sunday, and so it is being spun this morning in various media outlets as a comeback for Yanukovych and a “rebuke” to the Orange Revolution.
However, as I said yesterday, any vote share for Party of Regions below the mid thirty percent range would be a major defeat, given that Yanukovych was credited with over 39% of the vote in the first, multicandidate, round of the 2004 presidential election.
Results from the Central Election Commission, with about 6187 93% of protocols processed, put Regions at only 2930.7 31.3% of the vote. A glance at the page of results by oblast does not show any potential [I should have said major] bias in the distribution of reporting against Yanukovych strongholds. (In fact, quite the opposite, as Donetsk was one of the first regions to have processed 60% of its voting precincts–at a time when the national level of reporting was still around 40%.)
President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine also performed poorly, with only around 1614.9 14.5%. However, the other main Orange party, the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, scored a stronger-than-expected 23 22.5% [no change since previous update]. I argued here on Saturday morning (and actually back in September, as well) that the separate lists for the two main Orange parties likely would increase their appeal to the broad range of voters who supported the Orange Revolution, but for different reasons.
The combined vote of the two Orange parties is about 3937.4 37.0%. Would a single party backed by Yushchenko have done this well? Possibly not. On the one hand, it is roughly equivalent to a couple of percentage points behind Yushchenko’s acknowledged vote in the first round of the 2004 presidential election. On the other hand, Yushchenko’s popularity has declined significantly, and the Tymoshenko bloc allowed voters to vote against Yushchenko, yet for Orange.
Seat totals will be a bit higher than vote totals for all parties that cleared the 3% threshold. In these partial results, around 22% of the votes were cast either for parties too small to win representation or “against all” (1.7%).
So, Tymoshenko’s party has about 29% of the “effective” vote* and thus should have around 133 130 seats [again, no change]. Our Ukraine should have approximately 8786 84. That would leave them just short of having a majority on their own. A smaller party that has cooperated with the Orange Revolution, the Socialists (6.56.0 5.9%) also made it over the threshold, and it should have around 3735 34 seats. It would be part of any governing coalition that was formed without Regions.
The Bloc of Lytvyn (2.5%), which also has cooperated with the Orange, appears to have just missed returning to the new parliament.
The Communist Party (3.6%) will be in, while Pora-PRP (1.5%) did not make it. The extreme opposition Vitrenko bloc and a Ukrainian nationalist party now appear also to be among the many small parties that did not clear the threshold. [Vitrenko has been creeping closer, but almost certainly will not make it; now at 2.75%.]
*Defined as a party’s vote divided by the sum for all parties clearing 3%.
I have no knowledge about the reliability of these exit polls from Ukraine. Exit polling has a mixed record in younger democracies. But, for what it is worth, the Kyiv Post reports that one poll has Viktor Yanukovych’s support at 33% and another at only 27.5%.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s party is at second place in both polls, with 23% or 21.5%. President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine is doing worse in the polls than expected, at 14-16%.
Again–as I have stressed in some posts below–if Yanukovych’s Regions party is below the mid-30s in the final result, this is not a “comeback,” his plurality notwithstanding. In the exit polls, the combined support of the two main Orange parties remains higher than that of Yanukovuch’s party–which is what I would expect when this is all complete, though the precise levels of support may wind up different from these projections.
UPDATE: See the comments for an update by Lewis, and a discussion of state elections in Australia by Alan. Thanks to both of them!
Continuing my series on the elections of March, which has been a big one for election-watchers, I offer this BBC link on the first state elections in Germany since the formation of the federal grand coalition late last year.
According to a poll carried out by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah and reported in today’s Jerusalem Post, 66% of Palestinians would support recognition of Israel “during an era of peace with an existing Palestinian State.”
However, currently, nearly 60% oppose recognition of Israel. (And it is the latter finding that forms the basis of the JPost headline; I chose to emphasize the more optimistic, albeit conditional and hypothetical, finding.)
The full story contains other results, including polling within Israel about settlement evacuation and attitudes towards Hamas.
Polls are now open in Ukraine’s parliamentary election. Therefore, the spin cycle is also very much open.*
In a previous entry, I quoted the Kyiv Post as saying that Viktor Yanukovych–the would-be victor (so to speak) of a fraudulent election in 2004, until masses of citizens rallied around the real Viktor–was poised to make a “startling comeback” in this weekend’s parliamentary election.
I have lamented before that the first-place showing of Yanukovych’s Regions party in these elections would be spun as some sort of major turnaround, even reversal of the Orange Revolution. The Kyiv Post itself, which should know better, has made many such remarks in recent weeks, and so has the BBC, which also should know better, to say nothing of the US press.
But the whole idea of a “comeback” is so much hogwash. A little perspective here.
In October, 2004, in the first round of the presidential election, the official results showed Viktor Yushchenko at 39.9% of the vote nationwide, and Viktor Yanukovych at 39.3%. This total for Yanukovych was almost certainly inflated, yet the pro-Yanukovych electoral commission admitted he had fallen behind Yushchenko. Thus, his percentage in that election–a multicandidate contest with a playing field tilted in his favor–surely represents the outer limit of what he can be expected to get today.
So, if, in this election, Yanukovych’s party gets 30-37% (as various polls have suggested), that’s a decline, not a resurgence. If the two major parties that backed Yushchenko combine for just under 40%, as polls suggest, and if the Socialist party, whose candidate received 5.8% in the official first-round result in 2004, gets again around 5% (as looks likely), where is the great reversal of fortune?
The most likely result, then, is somewhere between stasis of party support and decline for Regions and Yanukovych. Don’t let the media spin it for you any other way!
Data cited are from my own files, compiled off the website of the Ukrainian electoral commission shortly after the runoff re-vote that made Yushchenko victor.
In an otherwise very good article comparing the recent post-Soviet paths of Belarus and Ukraine, the Christian Science Monitor on 24 March quoted a Ukrainian analyst about divisions in the ‘Orange’ camp in a way that perpetuates a fundamental misunderstanding of Ukraine’s post-revolutionary political reforms.
Volodimir Paniotto, director general of the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), says:
Yanukovych has consolidated his electorate, while the Orange parties have split and squabbled among themselves.
So far, soo good, as analysis (or, more precisely, description).
But then the story goes on to say:
The split between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, whose firing of Tymoshenko last September opened a breach in Ukraine’s pro-democracy forces, “has been Yanukovych’s main advantage,” says Mr. Paniotto.
Exactly how? Actually, these two points are in contradiction, especially given the political reforms adopted since late 2004.
If Yanukovych’s main asset is that he has “consolidated his own electorate,” implying that he is at no risk of losing those regions and constituent groups that voted for him in the 2004 presidential elections, then there is no implication that he is making gains among portions of the electorate that previously supported the Orange parties.
On the other hand, if divisions in the Orange bloc are benefitting Yanukovych, it must be for one of two reasons: Either some former or potential Orange voters are being driven away from the bloc, and towards Yanukovych, on account of those squabbles; or the intra-Orange divisions must be primed to throw parliamentary seats and cabinet portfolios to Yanukovych’s Regions party that would otherwise go to the Orange.
The first implication–voters swinging to the Party of Regions–would be quite different from a consolidation of the party’s existing electorate, and I am aware of no evidence that this is happening to any significant extent. So what about the possibility of political power being pushed towards Yanukovych not because Orange divisions cost them votes, but because they cost them either seats or advantage in the cabinet-formation process? This possibility requires institutional analysis, and that just happens to be the kind of analysis in which Fruits and Votes is rooted.
The electoral system is proportional representation in a single nationwide district (closed list, 450-seat district, 3% threshold). Thus there is marginal to no advantage to being the largest party in terms of how votes are translated into seats, as there would be if the rules were majoritarian, or even a districted form of PR.
However, even if the rules were rather majoritarian, the difference would not be as great as it might seem. The strengths of the parties are highly regionalized, so even if Ukraine had a system of single-seat (or small multi-seat) districts, the 37% support attributed to the Party of Regions in a KIIS poll would be highly concentrated in many districts of the east and Black Sea coast. Yanukovych’s party would win the great bulk of these districts even against pan-Orange candidacies. Correspondingly, the Orange forces are concentrated in the west and around Kyiv, where–divided or unified–one of them would have the plurality in the great bulk of the districts.
The previous parliamentary elections in Ukraine were held under a mixed-member majoritarian system, in which half the seats indeed were elected in individual single-seat races by plurality. The other half, under that system, were elected in a single nationwide district, but allocated in ‘parallel,’ meaning that it mattered greatly how well parties performed in the single-seat districts (many of which were actually won by independents–more than 40% of them in 2002).
However, with the abolition of the tier of single-seat districts, regional distributions of support will have no impact whatsoever on the seat outcome. This can only help the Orange parties, as there are more Orange voters in the east than there are Yanukovych voters in the Orange strongholds of the west.
My analysis of the runoff revote results from 26 December, 2004, shows that Yushchenko won around 19% of the votes in the “blue” Yanukovych-majority oblasts, whereas Yanukovych won around 15% in the “orange” Yushchenko-majority oblasts. These percentages represent around 2.6 million Yushchenko voters and a little less than 2.4 million Yanukovych voters. The net advantage to Yushchenko in this outside-the-stronghold support amounts to less than 1% of the total national vote, but could result in a net 3-4 seat advantage for the Orange parties. The reason for that (small) advantage lies in the absence of any regional distribution of parliamentary seats in the new 450-seat nationwide district. The new electoral system thus, at worst, will not harm the Orange camp’s seat allocation, and it best it will help them a little, even with their divisions.
Additionally, given that there are, in fact, divisions over policy course within the Orange camp (and always were), having separate parties gathering votes very likely increases the total votes the Orange camp can gain on election day, by allowing them to appeal to their diverse constituencies. In other words, Tymoshenko’s ability, since being fired as prime minister last year, to reprise her “outsider” role and criticize her former ally, the president, is probably a net advantage to her, and probably to the Orange camp as a whole. The net advantage is that her opposition from within the bloc of Orange Revolution supporters likely brings out pro-revolutionary voters who are disenchanted with Yushchenko’s need to engage in practical and often unseemly political compromises. Such voters might otherwise stay home or vote for more ‘extreme’ parties that might not clear the threshold. (I made a similar argument back in September, 2005.) Division within the bloc would be a problem in terms of the distribution of parliamentary power only if the electoral system would punish division and reward plurality status. But it will not.
Finally, what about cabinet formation? All of the above could be irrelevant if, as is often the case, the largest party is given a first-mover advantage in terms of forming a government. But, under the other major institutional reform of the Revolution, there is no such advantage. The constitutional reforms require parliament first to organize itself into a majority bloc and then appoint a prime minister from this majority. If the two Orange parties prefer to work together, they will refuse to join a Yanukovych-led coalition. If, instead, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine prefers to join forces with Yanukovych, it will do so, but not because the latter’s plurality forced it to do so.
The constitutional reforms have stripped the president of the initiative he formerly had in nominating a prime minister to form a cabinet. However, Yushchenko’s party will remain pivotal in parliament (meaning no politically viable cabinet can be formed without its support). In fact, it is possible that stripping the initiative from the presidency and putting it in the hands of the pivotal parliamentary party improves the prospects of an all-Orange coalition being formed after the election.
Numerous news reports have suggested that Yushchenko is more favorable to a government of “national unity” with Yanukovych’s party than is the president’s own party.* That is, the first struggle to be fought out once the election results are in may not be between “blue” and “orange,” or even between the two Orange parties, but rather within Our Ukraine. If so, the constitutional reforms give Our Ukraine’s parliamentary party leaders and their activists–who are understood to oppose cooperation with Yanukovych–an advantage over the president.
The coalition could ultimately go either way–Our Ukraine and Regions or Our Ukraine and Byut (Tymoshenko’s party)–but the new institutional provisions of Ukraine prevent the divisions within the Orange camp from giving Yanukovych any special advantage.
*See, for example, this Kyiv Post story from 23 March about contradictory statements about coalition intentions from different Our Ukraine officials, and Tymoshenko’s party’s exploitation of the issue. Also in the story: An Our Ukraine leader snaps back that Tymoshenko herself is hardly pure, her parliamentary bloc having often voted with former president Leonid Kuchma in the pre-revolution period.
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