Critics of open-list PR (and I have sometimes been among them) often lament the near randomness in determining who is in and who is out among the candidates competing for any given party’s seats. This was mentioned in the comments to one of my “preserved fruit” posts, specifically the one in which I proposed a variant of an open list for an MMP system.
Alan put it well, by describing the problem thus:
the danger of the main party leaders getting a huge share of the votes and the priority of candidates further down the list becoming almost random because of the giant votes locked up by the leadership.
In this light, the experience of Colombia’s recent election is interesting. Parties could present lists that were either closed or open, and most (by far) opted for the open list. And when they did so, it was a fully open list; that is, there was no way for parties that permitted preference votes to ensure that certain of their candidates were elected ahead of others: preference votes alone ordered the list.
This was the first experience Colombian voters had with preference voting (aside from the 2003 local and departmental assembly elections).
So, did we see a pattern of one or two recognizable leaders soaking up most of the preference votes and the order of the rest of the list being essentially random? Not really, at least in the House. There is some evidence of that effect in the Senate.
First, the House. For lists that won two seats (regardless of district magnitude, which averages around six, and ranges from two to eighteen), the average individual preference-vote percentages (candidate vote divided by party vote in the district) were:
32.5, 21.3, 13.3, 8.2…
So the top candidate had a percentage that was about 1.5 times that of the second candidate, who was also elected. The ratio of the last elected to first loser was about the same (1.6), and the ratio of the first to second loser was also 1.6. In other words, the candidates fell off pretty clearly, suggesting that there might have been reasonably good knowledge about who was in the running and who was not. As a rule of thumb, I might expect a ratio of first to second loser to be 2.0 or greater, indicating really clear knowledge of who was hopeless, but this result seems pretty good for a first time.
Now, for lists that elected three candidates:
23.4, 17.6, 14.2, 9.9, 5.7
The top three–the elected candidates–are pretty close in votes, with ratios from one to two of 1.3 and from two to three of 1.2. The first loser is also close behind the last winner, with a ratio of 1.4. But the second loser is farther back, with a ratio of the first two losers of 1.7. This again suggests reasonably good information. There is no “giant” on the average list who soaks up most of the preference votes, and there is something of a race for the final seat, with just over four percentage points separating the last winner and first loser, on average. But the second loser averages more than eight percentage points short of victory. It was thus not the case that any of the top five candidates could have been elected, with “randomness” sorting out the winners (after the “giant”) from the losers.
For the Senate, on the other hand, the picture is quite different. There is not a great deal of difference here for any lists that won more than ten seats (there were five such parties). I am going to list the top three winners’ averages, then the last three, followed by the top two losers. The averages were about as follows, with the ratio of the previous candidate’s percentage to the next shown on the second line:
10, 5.8, 4.8,… 2.3, 2.2, 2.1, 2.0, 1.9
… 1.72, 1.21, … …1.05, 1.05, 1.05, 1.05
Now, the difference between the last three winners and the first two losers looks random!
Of course, it is to be expected that voters would have a harder time discerning who is in the running and who is not the larger the magnitude is. And the Senate has a tremendously high magnitude: 100, one of the largest districts within which open lists have ever been used. But for the lower-magnitude House, the candidates sorted surprisingly well for a first-ever congressional election with open lists.
Another interesting aspect concerns the percentage of voters who declined to give a preference vote at all. Voters were free to cast just a list vote, or a list vote and then a vote for a candidate within that list (in an earlier post on Colombia, I provided links to some ballot images). Only preference votes affect the identity of the legislators a party will actually elect, so voters who cast only a list vote are effectively delegating the selection of specific legislators to other voters (not to the party organization, as with so-called flexible lists, like those in Belgium and many other European countries).
The percentage of voters who cast list-only votes ranged generally from around 15% to 25%, which is rather high compared to other similar systems (e.g. Brazil). And this percentage was higher for some parties and in some districts. Specifically, in some multiple regression analysis I performed on the data, voters for the largest pro-Uribe party, known as La ‘U’, were more likely than voters for other parties to cast list-only votes. This may mean that these voters are more interested in the party program (to support Uribe’s policies) than they are in specific candidates (and the pork or other ‘goodies’ that they can offer as personal constituent servants). On the other hand, voters for the Conservative party (a traditional party that is also aligned with Uribe) were much more likely to cast preference votes, which may indicate that they are much more after the pork and personal connections than are the voters for La ‘U’.
Additionally, district magnitude (within the House) was a significant factor in predicting the percentage of voters who cast list-only votes (even when controlling for the party). This is not surprising, in that the higher the magnitude, the longer the list of names to sort through to pick a specific candidate.
There also is a pretty clear tendency for list-only votes percentages to be higher in the Senate than in the House, a we’d expect, given the huge difference in district magnitude. However, I did not check to see if this intercameral difference was statistically significant, because I have not pooled the House and Senate data.
Ukraine’s parliamentary elections are on Sunday, 26 March. Friday was the last day of campaigning, reports the Kyiv Post.
Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian politician whose political future was written off after being accused of trying to steal Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, is poised to make a startling comeback, with his party [Regions] looking set to take first place.
But that first place looks set to be only about 30% of the vote; given a near perfect proportional system in a single nationwide district, that would also mean 30% of the seats–or a bit more, depending on how many smaller parties’s votes are wasted from failure to clear the 3% national threshold.
Speaking of the 3% threshold, the Kyiv Post has endorsed a small party that might barely clear it: Pora-PRP.
Pora is a youth group that was at the forefront of the people-power demonstrations that overturned the election theft. As the Post notes:
Pora-PRP, which clearly supports free market reforms, would counterbalance possible leftist coalition partners… Pora-PRP would also serve as a watchdog, much as it has since the Orange Revolution, boosting transparency in the future parliament and coalition… Moreover, their youth and energy can only be a plus.
Well, I don’t get a vote in this election, but I am convinced. If I did, it would be for Pora-PRP.
After Yanukovych’s party, the two main parties that sprung from the Orange Revolution alliance, President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, and Byut, the party of Yushchenko’s first Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in a close race for second place. The next cabinet surely will consist of Our Ukraine and either Regions or Byut, along with some smaller parties (probably including the Socialists).
Yushchenko’s job is not at stake, but those of his prime minister and Cabinet are, as new constitutional reforms come into effect that give parliament more powers in shaping the government. [...]*
Yushchenko’s huge drop in popularity – from highs of around 70 percent just over a year ago to around 20 percent today – has left him with little room to maneuver. He needs a coalition partner, and has two choices: either reach out to the Yanukovych, whom he called a criminal just 16 months ago, or make peace with Tymoshenko, the feisty former Orange Revolution ally whom he fell out with last year. In either case, Yushchenko risks letting in someone who could outmaneuver him in his own government.
Of course, it is precisely the point of the reforms that the government is no longer the president’s government, but rather parliament’s. The president now has no constitutional role in selecting the prime minister and cabinet.
I have discussed those constitutional reforms and the reformed election law, as well as the jockeying for position between the two Orange parties, in previous posts (just click on Ukraine above to see them all together).
Also on the same day is the election for mayor of Kyiv. In addition to endorsing Pora-PRP for parliament, the Post endorses the party’s candidate for mayor, former heavyweight boxing champ Vitali Klitschko.
Klitschko is an internationally recognized trademark and a symbol of national pride. More importantly, he has lived extensively in the West, not the least important experience for a capital facing Europe. No one is claiming that the gentlemanly giant is an experienced administrator, but that didnâ€™t stop Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Ronald Reagan for that matter.
Like many of his competitors, Klitschko is a Ukrainian millionaire who is less than forthcoming about where he puts his money. But no one should doubt his skills and merits as an ambassador or potential for attracting investments. He speaks fluent German and decent English. One of Ukraineâ€™s greatest obstacles has always been providing a solid image in the eyes of investors. The countryâ€™s other problem has been corruption, precisely what Klitschko has vowed to eradicate. Letâ€™s give him a chance. Thereâ€™s no doubt that the man is a fighter.
*This quote and all subsequent quotes, except those about the mayoral race, are from the first-linked Kyiv Post story.
The only parties which would agree to adopt Olmert’s plan are Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties. Other prospective coalition partners, like Israel Beiteinu, Shas and United Torah Judaism, would have a tough time accepting such a condition.
Of course, the coalition will be constructed after the election, but positioning before the election may affect the post-election bargaining weights of the parties. Seeking to affect the bargaining weights of parties–that is, to induce strategic voting, even in an ‘extreme’ PR system–is what Olmert (and other party leaders) are up to when making bold statements about who is or is not an acceptable coalition partner. Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Israel Beiteinu, recognizes this dynamic:
Speak to him five days after the elections and there will be a different tune in the Kadima office.
As always, turn to Political Arithmetik for the latest in polling for the major and smaller parties.
So, Kadima+Labor would be about six seats short of a majority, and adding Meretz would not quite get them there. So, it looks like one or more of the parties that have positions on Olmert’s “convergence plan” that supposedly would leave them out of the running as partners will have to be included. Kadima+Labor+(shudder) Yisrael Beiteiun would make it, as would Kadima+Labor+Shas.
An Arab member of the Knesset, Issam Mahoul, running on the Hadash list, says, in reference to Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu:
The real problem of these elections is a racist problem. We did not immigrate here. And we will not move from here. The State of Israel was imposed upon us in a series of historical events. We accepted this fact. But we will not accept the legitimacy of the discussion of transfer every time a fascist wants a headline in a newspaper. [full story]
Meanwhile, a group of about twenty Likud activists reportedly ambushed a smaller group of Labor activists in the Negev and bashed them with bats. An election official noted:
Maybe it means that people are starting to get more excited about the elections. [full story]
The latter story made me wonder, why were baseball bats so readily available? I have never thought of Israel as having a baseball program, and they were not even on the short list of WBC candidates–even as the obviously not-ready-for-primetime South African program was. Well, maybe next time. There is an Israeli Association of Baseball, founded in 1986. It is a member of The International Baseball Association, and runs youth leagues with over 70 teams.
In summer 2006 the IAB plans to hold its first “Baseball Bridges” tournament. We hope to attract Jewish community teams, ages 13-15, from North America to come to Israel to participate in a gala baseball event.
A member of the IAB is the Israeli Baseball League, which is partnering with the JNF on Project: Baseball.
Thanks to referral provided by the good folks at Make My Vote Count, I have now read the clearest explanation yet of the new Italian electoral system, to be used in the 9-10 April parliamentary election. Unfortunately, that is not saying much.
Under the heading, “Proportional representation explained,” the guide explains that the former mixed-member system has been abolished, describes the new system as “closed list” and outlines the thresholds (4% in the House, 8% in the Senate, with various complexities for lists presented by pre-election coalitions). So far, so good.
But then the kicker: In each house, the “coalition” (which might mean a unified list of several parties, or might mean separate but allied lists, it is not clear) that wins the most votes is guaranteed at least 55% of the seats.
Hmmm, that isn’t PR.
And then, for the Senate, after noting that some regions will continue to have single-seat constituencies, it says:
The new system means that small parties receiving less than two per cent of the overall vote will be unable to secure a seat in parliament, however successful they might be in an individual constituency.
OK, I am just a little bit confused here.
I sure hope this is not the last word on this new electoral system.
(For previous posts in which I try to sort out what this system is, just click on “Italy” above.)
UPDATE: The termperature actually reached 80 before noon! First time since way back in the depth of winter–Feb. 18.
Normally, it would be unremarkable that it is 70 degrees at Ladera Frutal. But the temperature just reached that level for the first time since February 27, which indicates a remarkably long cool period for us in any month. Yesterday’s high of 66 broke a string of four consecutive days on which the high had not even made it to 60. It was also the first day it had been above 65 since March 6. It is has been a chilly month.
But signs of spring abound. The ‘peppermint’ flowering peach, one of my favorite non-fruiting plants,* is in full bloom, as is the field of ‘wild’ flowers that surrounds it.
It is also the peak of kumquat season.
This is a ‘Meiwa’ kumquat, a less tart version than the more common puckery ‘Nagami.’
Yes, it seems it is spring.
For either photo, click on the image for a larger version, or you can go to my Flickr set, which includes other photos.
*It does produce a few fruit some years, and they are certainly edible, but one would not really want to plant this tree for its peaches.
Such a coalition would allow Kadima to keep the Foreign Affairs, Defense, Finance and Education portfolios.
However, polls suggest these parties may not be sufficient to reach a majority (61 seats).
Kadima officials ruled out asking Meretz to join the coalition, leaving Likud or Labor as the only remaining alternatives for Kadima to build a stable government. Asked which of the two was preferable, sources close to Olmert said it depended on whether the two parties would replace their current leader.
“It depends on who goes home first, Bibi or Peretz,” an Olmert associate said. “A second consideration will be which of the two parties is larger. But if they are the same size and their leaders remain, it would be better to start off with Likud in the government and then go to Labor if Likud leaves the coalition.”
So, Sharon’s old party and his new party may yet be back together.
This jockeying for coalitional advantage shows once again that what supporters and critics alike of proportional representation often say–that voters are free to vote without strategic considerations and that parties simply appeal to their “true believing” extreme–is not true.
Suppose you are an Israeli voter and you favor a more secular and leftist policy approach. Maybe you like Meretz and are not particularly a fan of the Labor party. Certainly, if you fit this profile, you dislike Likud, and even more, you loathe the idea of Shas and UTJ having prominent roles in government. What do you do? Presumably you vote Labor, as the party most likely to tug a Kadima-led government in your direction, among the parties likely to play a role in the executive. You vote strategically, in other words.
Four months ago, I used Sherwood Boehlert, a congressman from New York, as an example of the “dilemma” that the Republican party faces heading into the 2006 midterm: He is a moderate within his party, regularly fends off primary challenges from the right, and is exactly the kind of member most in need of distancing himself from Bush in order to avoid a serious challenge from the Democrats. This year was going to be different: He was going to face “exactly the sort of challenger that incumbents dread running against” (the quote if from a PolySigh post linked in my previous post).
The dilemma is up. Boehlert is retiring. This will be a very hard seat for the Republican party to retain.
Who would have guessed that the number of major league regulars on a roster would be such a poor predictor of how well a team would do in the World Baseball Classic?
The graph (click the image for a larger version) shows the number of major leagers plotted against the winning percentage of each team, through the semifinals. The two teams that will play in the finals, Japan and Cuba, are clearly at the far low end in major league talent. The two teams with the most major leaguers, USA and Venezuela, were just .500 in the tournament. The Dominican Republic, the team with the next highest number of major leaguers, was in the final four, but lost to Cuba, which has no major leaguers, in the semifinal.
For all sixteen teams, the number of major league regulars (MLR) is positively related to winning percentage, at just over 90% confidence. Each additional MLR contributes .012 to the winning percentage (W-pct), with a standard error of .007, and a t-score of 1.84.
However, the positive relationship is thanks only to such hapless teams as South Africa, Australia and the two Chinas.
When only the eight teams that escaped the first round (those whose names are underlined in the graph) are included in the analysis, the sign on MLR actually turns negative: Each additional MLR reduces W-pct by -.0058. This result, however, would be significant only at 80% confidence (which ought to be good enough for WBC blogging: standard error is .0039, t=-1.49).
How is a “major-league regular” defined? Simply. I looked at the rosters and identified the players I knew were in a starting lineup or rotation, were regular relievers, or back-up players who spent most of 2005 on a major-league roster, and players expected to be major-league regulars in 2006. It is unlikely that others with identical or better knowledge of major-league rosters would come up with materially different numbers, although the interest reader is invited to try.
UPDATE: Publius Pundit is keeping up with the fast pace of events (and rumor) and posting photos, as well as links to other sources of news (and rumor). I think it is a bit premature of the Publius folks to be calling it a “revolution.” But apparently there was some growth in the scale of the protest compared to the first night, and some evidence (or rumors?) of police standing by and not blocking protesters. Over at the Reaction (see right sidebar, under “cross pollination” for link), I give my reasons why I would not expect another ‘Ukraine’ in Belarus: The conditions that were present in Ukraine are not present in Belarus, notably the opposition’s prior political control of roughly half the country, and its leadership by a former “insider.” (Yushchenko was a former prime minister and head of the central bank; BBC describes Milinkevich as “An intellectual rather than a politician.”
I hope I am wrong, and the absence of the Ukrainian conditions won’t stand in the way of the liberation of the people of Europe’s last dictatorship.
FURTHER UPDATE: Thanks to the scion grafted below by Arnauh, I found the coverage at Democracy Rising, where mattyj notes something encouraging:
the police appear to have allowed the demonstration to continue – at least for now. If the opposition can convince even 25% of officers to leave their protest alone it will cause friction and indecisiveness in the security forces. This was one successful tactic in the Orange Revolution.
21 MARCH UPDATE: BBC says the “crowd” in the square numbered about 150 this morning. Not good.
So, in Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children, while in Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs. Allegedly, this is an indicator of a return to patriarchy and a coming long-term dominance of conservative politics.
It should be immediately obvious just how deeply flawed the whole analysis is, as it eliminates a crucial variable that is (again, allegedly) corrrelated positively with liberal politics and negatively with patriarchy: Cats.
Among the many proposals for a major modern airpoprt to replace San Diego Lindbergh is a plan to build an airport in the desert of Imperial County, where land is cheap and flat and, unlike San Diego’s limited available flat land, not under military occupation. A key problem, however, is how far away the Imperial desert is from the metro area, and that the land between the city and the desert is anything but flat.
As a result of the distance and rugged terrain, the only way to make such a plan viable is with a high-speed rail link. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has been looking at costs of a possible magnetic levitation train system that would take people from a check-in terminal that was centrally located out to the airport at speeds of around 175 MPH.
The costs are prohibitive, and the technology still mostly unproven in commercial operation. Anyone who has ever driven between San Diego and southeastern California or Arizona knows how rugged the mountains east of the metro area are. Interstate 8 is perhaps the most winding of all interstate highways, and has stretches that are among the steepest. The eastbound and westbound roadways pass through separate narrow canyons and cuts. It is hard to imagine a train line being pushed through there. Alternatives include a tunnel, which adds significantly to the cost projections, or following the slightly less steep route of the existing (but not operational) San Diego and Arizona Eastern. The SD&AE dips below the border into Mexico and then crosses back into the USA to go over the amazing Carrizo Gorge trestle.
As much as I would enjoy being magnetically levitated through the Carrizo Gorge on my way to London or Prague, I find it terribly ironic that the proposed city terminal could be at Miramar MCAS, otherwise known as San Diego’s prime location for an international airport.
I often say the weather is weird here in Southern California, home to moderate temperatures somewhere between mild temperate and subtropical. But this winter–about to end, according to the calendar–has been weirder than most.
After not having a single day when the high temperature was below 60F through February 17, we have had seven since that date, including 51 on March 11. That was the lowest high I have seen in over a decade of daily temperature record-keeping in Carlsbad (by the sea, where highs below 60 are more common than here, but highs below about 56 much less so) and Ladera Frutal. The day at 51 (most of the daylight hours of which was spent between 45 and 47) was during that storm system that was promised to be cold, and it delivered. As I have lamented before, such weather would be great in January, but is somewhere between useless (for the deciduous trees’ chilling accumulation) and harmful (for already-open buds and for the subtropicals) when it comes in March, after warm weather in the previous months has gotten things growing again.
About the chilling. Even before the mid-March blast of cold air, we had certainly reached 600 hours in the open air of the lower reaches, and perhaps 650+ in the “cheat” zone. And the Moorpark (600 hours needed, say the catalogues) is gearing up to bloom!
I just returned from the Cuba-DR semifinal game. And what a game! Another close one. Cuba won, 3-1, to secure a place in the final Monday, against either Japan or South Korea. The game was 0-0 till the Dominicans scored an unearned run in the 6th. After a dominating start by Bartolo Colon of the Angels, Cuba broke through off Odalis Perez (of the other LA team), Solomon Torres, and Julian Tavarez with a three-run seventh.
Cuba got terrific pitching from Yadel Marti (4 1/3) and Pedro Luis Lazo (4 2/3). Both have very distinctive windups. Marti’s style is something I have never seen before. He kicks the leg up (not very high, but abruptly), then holds it there for a moment (a bit like Akinori Otsuka), and then sort of corkscrews back a bit before turning forward to deliver the pitch. However, he got into considerable trouble with some wildness in a first inning that he looked like he might not escape. The rest of his time in the game he pitched only from the stretch. Lazo has a nice assortment of pitches, including a very hard fastball, whereas Marti seems to be much more of a finesse pitcher. Lazo pitched out of a first-and-third, no out, jam in the 6th, allowing just the one unearned run, depite facing the “muderers row” of Miguel Tejada, Albert Pujols (who grounded into a fielder’s choice in which the runner at third was out in a rundown), David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre (who was safe on a bobble and overthrow by second baseman Yuliesky Gouriel), and Moises Alou.
Cuba’s rally began on consecutive infield singles by Gouriel and Elier Sanchez, an RBI ground out, two singles (which actually made it to the outfield grass), and a sacrifice fly.
I could watch this kind of baseball all the time. Dominant pitching, great infield defense (Cuba made three errors, but also some excellent plays). Lots of aggressive (but not reckless) baserunning, hit-and-run plays, and only two balls hit to even medium depth in the outfield the entire game by either side.
It was a great atmosphere, with a crowd about evenly divided in its rooting interest, and including many Cuban- and Dominican-Americans. Most of the crowd stayed long enough to watch the Cuban players celebrate on the field and to salute them as they headed back to their dugout.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Juan Marichal. And, yes, he delivered it with his trademark high leg kick (though perhaps not quite as high as when he was younger).
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