I’m off line for a bit as I head off to Montreal (see the Nova Scotia and “Minimal planting” posts below for more on the trip).
I spent a little time this morning out in the gorgeous warm sunshine (those who know this climate* will know how much we can’t take that for granted this time of year) doing some Ladera Frutal tasks that just could not wait. I had hoped to leave you with some nice photos before heading out, but time is short. So, you will have to imagine the fruitful pear trees and the blood oranges!
Expect activity here to range from zero to minimal till at least 22 June. But feel free to use this as an open thread and thus the right sidebar as open-blogging on any fruit or votes (or baseball or the World Cup for that matter) themes that come up while I am away.
* As opposed to the stereotypical image of it, or what the Visitors Bureau wants you to believe. We call the normal weather this time of year June gloom (which follows on the heels of May gray.)
Reportedly, talks on forming an ‘Orange’ coalition in Ukraine are at an impasse, and Our Ukraine, the parliamentary bloc of President Viktor Yushchenko, is calling for all-party talks on a government of national unity that would include the Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych.
Is this posturing by OU? Or is it a real breakdown?
I would not read too much into this alleged break off of talks within the Orange camp. It has always been the case since the election that Our Ukraine is pivotal, and pivotal parties always play one side off against another to extract the maximum from their prospective partners.
In the end, perhaps OU will go with Regions. That need not be such a bad thing, nor need it last a full term.
But this could just be a step towards getting a better deal from Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialist leader, Moroz. The latter, in particular is not pivotal, and thus really is in no position to be making big demands (such as that he be parliament speaker), unless he is prepared to sit in the opposition. Does he have a sufficiently cohesive and policy-oriented party to survive in the next election if he is without access to power in the interim? Count me skeptical!
It is clear that (as I have noted previously) the constitutional changes made neither the president nor the leading party in parliament (i.e. Regions) the prime mover in forming a government. However, they did tend to give a small party like the Socialists more leverage than if an explicit majority were not required to propose a prime minister (i.e., than if it were possible for either the president or a parliamentary bloc to propose a minority cabinet).
It is therefore true that Moroz’s Orange partners can’t form a coalition without him. But it is just as true that he can’t realistically be in government without them.*
I have covered this story extensively since last summer. Click on “Ukraine” above to see all the posts together.
See further background at RFE/RL. The story indicates that several local councils in the east have passed (apparently unconstitutional) resolutions making Russian a second official language and that there have been anti-NATO protests in Crimea in advance of a scheduled–but not yet approved by parliament–visit by a US warship.
* UPDATE: Moroz subsequently dropped his demand for the speakership, and said that the Orange parties should divide portfolios (i.e. cabinet and legislative leadership positions, as well as centrally appointed local officials) proportionally. (H/t: Orange Ukraine.)
UPDATE, 14 June, morning and again in the afternoon:
The CBC link (first one below) has been updated with early vote count results, which suggest the Tories will retain their plurality in the assembly, 23 seats, or a loss of two. The big gainer was the NDP, going from 15 to 20 seats, while the Liberals–whose leader declared the party would double its seats, instead lost three (including that of the leader himself!) and now has nine.
So, does this result qualify as anomalous? The incumbent party lost seats but may remain in office unless the other two join against it when it faces parliament the first time. The second party gained the most, but can’t form a government unless the Liberals back it.
In the votes breakdown, it looks to be: Conservative, 39.6%; NDP, 34.5%; Liberal, 23.6%. So both leading parties gained about three percentage points at the expense of the Liberals, yet one of them lost two seats (3.8%) while the other gained five (9.6%). Very odd indeed. Ah, the fun of three-party FPTP elections!
Don’t miss Rici’s comment below. Among other interesting details, including an ‘experimient’ with regional PR, he notes that the result it not very anomalous and unlikely to give any impetus to an electoral-reform push. I certainly agree on that latter point. In fact, one of the things I am saying at this weekend’s conference in Montreal is that there is no clear path to PR from minority governments. That may seem like a paradox–after all, minority governments already introduce an element of interparty cooperation in parliament unlike the typical Westminsterâ€“FPTP pattern, and they almost by definition give leverage to smaller parties that might be expected to prefer PR. Yet if the theory in my own paper [PDF] is anywhere near accurate, minority governments are unlikely to provide the conditions needed to generate a reform process.
In a second and very rich and interesting comment below, Rici saves me the trouble of applying the seat-vote equation to this election, and notes that according to the equation, this is another unexpected minority government.
Nova Scotians vote today in a provincial legislative election. The current government is a Conservative minority. Nova Scotia is one of the provinces that has a real three-party system. Many districts are expected to be close, which could cause (as in past elections) odd relations between votes and seats.
What follows is a re-post of my previous discussion of the province’s elections (originally posted 14 May).
The last general election for the provincial assembly was in 2003, and it resulted in a narrow miss of a majority for the Conservative party: 25 of 52 seats. With the economy doing well, MacDonald hopes this time the voters will get it “right” and give his party a few more seats. MacDonald’s decision, as a premier heading a minority government, to call an early election puts him in good company with his co-partisan counterpart, Stephen Harper, as Wilf Day put it in a very interesting seed beneath an earlier planting on the Canadian federal minority government. Wilf’s comment offers a quite appropriate lesson from Irish history, and asks why the media seem to think it is perfectly normal and understandable that a minority government ought to go to the polls early in search of a majority.
The question is relevant because it is not as if the governments of either MacDonald or Harper obtained anything just short of a majority of votes. Like Harper’s federal Conservatives in January of this year, MacDonald’s Nova Scotia party obtained only around 36% of the votes in the 2003 election. (For more on minority governments and FPTP, go to my Canada subdomain and scroll down to early February and late January.)
In fact, the Nova Scotia result in 2003 was rather anomalous:
This is arguably a worse result than the federal election, in which the two two parties’ votes percentages were almost the same as in Nova Scotia, but the leading party won just over 40% of the seats–much closer to its actual voting result. Moreover, in the federal election, the third party (also the NDP) was much farther behind in votes and seats, whereas in Nova Scotia, the third party (in votes) actually obtained more seats than the second party.
Despite the rather anomalous nature of the Nova Scotia outcome, in my current research on “systemic failures” of plurality electoral systems and moves towards proportional representation, Nova Scotia does not show up as a severe or even moderate case of failure. I define the inherent conditions for reform as chronic under-representation of the second party (second in seats, that is), based on expectations derived from the seat-vote equation. When this underrepresentation occurs in a very close election–a contingent factor–it becomes noticeable and puts reform on the agenda, although the initiation of a reform process happens only after an alternation to that (now former) second party–a further contingency.
Based on the parameters of the seat-vote equation–the size of the assembly, the number of voters, and the actual ratios of the leading parties’ votes–the 2003 Nova Scotia election might have been expected to produce seat percentages for the top three parties of:
44.5 — 28.4 — 27.1,
48.1 — 23.1 — 29.0.
The five percentage-point shortchanging of the second party is high, but not anything like extreme, compared to other countries and provinces, or even compared to Nova Scotia in the 1970s. (The Liberals obtained more than 20 percentage points less than expectation in 1967!)
Thus, Nova Scotia does not look like a candidate for a serious electoral-reform movement–yet. However, if MacDonald gets his wish–a seat majority–without a very large boost in his party’s votes, and if the Liberals thus fall farther behind even without a major votes loss, then the province could go on my “watch list” for likely electoral-system change.
With a three-party system despite plurality elections, Nova Scotia looks like a good candidate for PR. But my research shows it is not three-partism, per se, that generates serious reform processes. Rather, it is underrepresentation of the second party and close elections that do so.
There won’t be very frequent planting here till later in the month. It’s finals time now, and I am also preparing for a conference on electoral reform in plurality and majority systems (of all topics) in Montreal. It will be the first trip to Montreal for either me or my wife, and we will do a little side trip to Quebec City.
There may be an occasional item here as the spirit moves and time permits. Otherwise, see you all in late June.
In the previous post, I noted that there were thirty-nine Republican House members who won by margins of less than the 9-point swing against the party that we saw this week in the special House election in San Diego County.
How many Republican Senators whose seats are contested this fall won with less than 59%? Five. (Not enough to swing that chamber given that a Republican holds the Vice Presidency and this the tiebreaking vote.) (more…)
The Republican party won the 50th House race in California in this week’s special election. However, it suffered an approximately 9-percentage-point negative swing, compared to November, 2004.
How many current Republican House members would lose their seats if they suffered a 9-point swing this November?
Their current majority?
(By the way, 39 might not be as ridiculous as it seems. A late-May Cook Report said 36 GOP seats were now in play, and another 11 were toss-ups.)
If there were an actual 9-point national swing in votes away from the party, they would lose a lot more than 39 seats. While swings are never uniform across all districts in plurality systems–even less so in the USA–and thus some of Republicans within the 9-point margin last time would survive and a Democrat or two would lose, such a national swing would also take down many Republicans whose margins last time were much greater than 9%. Why? Because the swing would be concentrated in the seats that the GOP won with less than 15-20 points and would hardly affect seats won by larger margins,* due to the endogeneity of party effort and voter interest this time to margin last time.
My previous analysis would put the GOP’s seats from 40% of the vote (which is where it would be after a 9-point swing) at somewhere between 130 (using the whole 1946â€“2004 period votes-seats relationship) and 175 (extrapolating from the much less responsive electoral system of the last decade).
In other words, if this formerly safe Republican district in San Diego County were to be a bellwether, not only the majority, but the two-thirds majority of the House would be in play.
Thus Republicans can’t be too gleeful about the outcome of the special election. They won the seat, but this could give a whole new meaning to that Rumsfeldian concept of catastrophic success.
* Almost 80% of House seats in 2004 were won with margins greater than 20%, including (by my count) 185 of the 232 seats currently held by the GOP. One of the lessons of 1994 is that even a handful of these could swing if there is a strong national tide against the incumbent party.
Ollanta Humala, who lost the presidential runoff in Peru more narrowly than initially reported (52.5%â€“47.5%), has said he will rule out any cooperation with president-elect AlÃ¡n GarcÃa. Instead, he will lead the opposition, from his position as head of the party that won the most seats (45 of 120) in the parliamentary election that was held at the same time as the first round of the presidential election.
The main significance of this is that in Peru–unlike every other country of Latin America–the elected president must maintain support (or at least avert majority opposition) within the legislature in order to govern. The president governs through a prime minister who, along with the cabinet as a whole, can be ousted in a vote of no-confidence.
Humala said, “I don’t have any confidence at all in Alan Garcia. He ran one of the worst governments in the history of Peru.” No joke. But this time, GarcÃa will not have what he had last time: A legislative majority under his own leadership. He will have to build coalitions, which will not be easy. Without Humala’s party, GarcÃa will need the party of third-place finisher Lourdes Flores and at least one other to forge a majority.
It is not as if GarcÃa would have wanted to coalesce with Humala, anyway. And the last paragraph of the above-linked BBC article notes that Humala may have other avenues with which to lead opposition, other than from within parliament.
Reversed plurality minority governments are quite common in India, both in the states and at the federal level. The multiparty system in India, and district-level stand-down agreements, mean that using jurisdiction-wide vote totals for individual parties (as opposed to pre-election coalitions) is often a poor indicator of the popular support of the various blocs.
For intance, at the federal level, the Congress party in 1999 won more votes than the BJP (28.3% to 23.8%), yet the BJP won more seats (182 to 112) and led a coalition government. The key here was that the BJP simply does not contest many seats outside the “Hindu Heartland” but it has coalition partners in other states whose local seats gave the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance a majority. Congress, on the other hand, contests districts in many more states and thus “wastes” more votes.
In 2004 at the federal level, the Congress won more votes than the BJP, and more seats. However, most of the country’s districts faced a choice between a candidate of the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. The NDA parties together actually won more votes (36.6%) than the UPA (35.4%), but the UPA won 218 seats (just over 40%) to the NDA’s 184. The main third force, which does not engage in pre-election coalitions with either Congress or the BJP is the Left alliance (59 seats on 7.7% of the vote), which supports the UPA minority coalition cabinet.
At least a single party that came in second (in votes) did not win a majority of seats in Tamil Nadu, or at the federal level.
I am not sure I would agree with Wilf that India, or its states, should adopt PR. The system works pretty well for such a divided society, and in most districts, voters get a clear choice of pro-incumbent or pro-change candidate–more so than in almost any other plurality system. Consider the following summary stats:
Percent of districts with two leading candidates over 40%:
30.7 (2004), 42.1 (1999)
Percent of districts with two leading candidates over 35%:
77.2 (2004), 79.6 (1999)
In 2004, Of 164 districts with 2 candidates over 40%, 144 of them were UPA vs. NDA; Of 413 districts with 2 candidates over 35%, 311 of them were UPA vs. NDA.
Mean vote percentage for top three candidates
47, 35, 9 (2004); 48, 37, 10 (1999)
Median margin of victory
10% (2004), 7% (1999)
On that last stat, median district margin of victory, let’s compare some other plurality jurisdictions:
UK 2005: 18.2
Canada 2004: 17.3
US House 2004: 32.2
It looks like India has a pretty well performing plurality system: Most districts are competitive, and the high degree of fragmentation and sometimes seeming chaos of the national party system masks a system in which most parties are operating in two broad national blocs.
I just happened to be listening to the late Ofra Haza’s beautiful rendition of Yerushalayim shel zahav (Jerusalem of gold) and just as she gets to the part where she sings of the sounding of the shofar, it dawned on me. Today is the anniversary of the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli troops in the Six Day War in 1967.
The transcript (and Hebrew recording) of a radio news report the arrival of the troops at the Western Wall is amazing. And you can hear the shofar.
Yossi Ronen: Iâ€™m driving fast through the Lionâ€™s Gate all the way inside the Old City.
Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance and make sure to enter every single house, especially the holy places.
[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar. Soldiers are singing â€˜Jerusalem of Goldâ€™.]
Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?
Yossi Ronen: Iâ€™m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. Iâ€™m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and Iâ€™m touching the stones of the Western Wall.
Great. I wish I could have been there just after the shooting stopped. Yet here we are thirty-nine years later, and Israel still can’t figure out what to do with the political problems created by its thumping military victory.
[UPDATED (13 June) as final results continue to trickle in.]
With 100% of precincts accounted for, preliminary results show the 50th House district in California held by the Republican party in the 6 June special election.
Brian Bilbray (R), 49.66%
Francine Busby (D), 44.96%
Bill Griffith (ind), 3.79%
Pail King (Libtn.), 1.60%
Bilbray’s margin was just over 4400 votes.
Busby won just over 68,000 votes, or roughly 8,000 more than in the first round in April, when turnout was slightly lower. Turnout in the district’s runoff was reported to be around 42% (a few percentage points higher than in the rest of the County, as well as a few percentage points higher than in April).
Bilbray’s 49.7% is almost four percentage points worse than the whole field of 18 Republican hopefuls got in April, but it was enough.
Former Congressman and now Convict Duke Cunningham beat Busby, 58â€“36, in November, 2004.
In the second division of the special election, the Libertarian more than doubled his votes from round one to the runoff and Minutemen-endorsee Griffiths more than quadrupled his votes.
After the first round, when Busby won 43.8%, I said:
While my post on election day gave some scenarios in which she might win, she and the party indeed will have to settle for the moral victory–at least for now. She gets another crack at Bilbray (who won 54% in the concurrent closed Republican primary) in November.
It is a pretty dull election when by far the contest that excites you most is a referendum on which there was no opposition argument submitted for the ballot pamphlet: Whether to ban write-in candidates in nonpartisan runoffs in San Diego County (County Proposition B). A bad idea, I say. (more…)
Originally this was a post about an exit poll, and it showed GarcÃa ahead, but within the margin of error. Turns out the result is a wider lead for GarcÃa than the poll projected–nearly ten points.
Has any president anywhere ever served two terms this many years apart? [YES: RAFAEL CALDERA IN VENEZUELA, 1969-73 AND 1994-98.] Peru had the previous distinction of being one of the few (only?) cases where the president who won the first post-authoritarian election was the same guy the military had overthrown (Fernando BelaÃºnde Terry), but those two terms were only about 12 years apart. GarcÃa’s first term ended about sixteen years ago, with other elected presidents, as well as an authoritarian interlude, in between.
I will leave the original post intact below.
At 53-47, I suspect this is too close to be taken as a clear indicator. I would expect GarcÃa to win, but if it is really this close, I would not be surprised if it turned out the other way. I would guess that Humala would be more likely to be under-sampled, but that is just that: a guess.
As I have said before, what a terrible choice the first round result presented to the 45% of first-round voters who voted for one of the other candidates then running.
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