However, as Stuart Rothenberg notes, this election is shaping up to be one of those rare cases in which candidate quality may not matter all that much. Surveying the races, including many that are surprisingly competitive, Rothenberg notes:
it is remarkable how similar this group of Democratic candidates is to the GOP class of 1994, when, by my count, 37 freshmen were elected without having held a previous elective office.
The proposed new House of Lords would have 450 members, half of it elected, the others appointed.
The elections would be using open list-PR in the EP-constituencies at the same time as the elections to the House of Commons.
Besides some Anglican bishops and PM-appointed members, most of the appointments would be made by an independent nine-member Appointments Commission.
All members would sit for three Parliament terms. Most of the existing members (the co-opted hereditary peers and the life peers) would lose their seats.
In the paper, the advantages and disadvantages of various methods and timings of elections are discussed (thos that were not chosen in an appendix).
It puzzles me to read that regional lists “produce proportionate result” (catalogued as an advantage) and STV “allows proportional result” (advantage) but “can produce visibly disproportional outcomes” (disadvantage). This is only true if under STV one considers only the first preferences aggregated by party to calculate “the” proportional result, while voters can cross party-lines with their lower preferences. But if everyone votes completely loyal to only one party, STV gives the same result (on the party-level) as list-PR.
Updated and revised, with some discussion of voter decision-making models prompted by comments from Miguel and A.M. (The first two paragraphs are revised, and the last one is entirely new.)
Lula won 60.8% of the vote in Brazil’s presidential runoff on Sunday, against Geraldo Alckmin’s 39.2. That means that Alckim actually did worse in the two-candidate runoff than he had done in the multi-candidate first round.
In the first round, Alckmin had 41.6%. Put another way, Alckmin lost votes (2.4%) equivalent to about double Lula’s shortfall from a first-round victory (50%-48.6%=1.4%). Below, in the final paragraph and continuing in the exchanges with propagators in the comments, is some (wild) speculation about individual voter decision-making that might have produced this result. It is worth noting that the drop in Alckmin’s support was not a product of turnout differentials, at least not at the aggregate level. The tournout differential between rounds–it was a bit higher in the first round, as is usually the case–amounted to only about 0.17% of votes cast (using the first round as the denominator).
Offhand, I can’t think of a previous case in which one of two candidates in a runoff performed worse than in the first round. If someone has another case, please come forward!
Miguel asks in a comment below something I have been thinking about, too. Is it possible that some voters just wanted to punish Lula by making him wait, but still preferred that he have a second term? Yes, I think that is possible. If so, it would be a form of strategic voting that I am not aware of having been addressed in the literature. Some voters may have decided to withhold a vote from Lula in the first round and strengthen his main challenger, just to force them to debate again and to get a second look at the choices. Such a hypothetical voter would not, of course, be a committed PT or other left voter (there was a PT defector running to Lula’s left in the first round to attract those voters), but rather swing voters who perhaps did not feel too good about either of the viable candidates. In the second round, their “second look” did not convince them that Alckmin was better, after all. We are talking about very small percentages here of net swing away from Alckmin, but it is still the prospect of “second look” strategic voting is an interesting prospect.
As an aside, I just noticed that this orchard reached a milestone: This is its 1000th planting! We’re also closing in on our 50,000th visitor.
Are there any other countries besides Bangladesh where the incumbent government is formally replaced by a caretaker in the period immediately before a general election? I do not know of such a case.
There have been several days of rioting in Bangladesh as the main parties have failed to agree on who the interim leader should be. Now the President has been sworn in as interim head, but the primary opposition party, the Awami League, does not recognize him for this role.
In fact, unlike the presidencies in most parliamentary democracies, Bangladesh’s presidency is in no way a neutral and primarly ceremonial figure. He is appointed by the same majority as that which appoints the prime minister and cabinet, and to the same term. He is thus a bad candiate for a “caretaker” role.
But the very idea of a caretaker to administer elections is rather odd. Given the history of government intervention in elections in Bangladesh, the aim of a neutral campaign-period government is sensible, but this institutional “solution” is clearly less optimal than would be the establishment of an independent electoral commission. In fact, arguably the chimera of a neutral caretaker government–and the resulting conflict over who will head it–is worse than leaving the incumbent government to administer the elections, as is the case everywhere else that I know of.
I acknowledge the work of SK, a student from last spring’s Institutional Engineering and Democracy course, who wrote a really interesting paper on elections and institutional reform in Bangladesh.
I can drink to this: Throughout human history–the diversity of local brewing traditions has sustained local economies and supported female labor-market participation, but it is under threat from globalization (especially in the developing world).
The ties between brewing and civilzation go at least as far back as the Code of Hammurabi, “which dealt specifically with matters regarding beer (and the agriculture that made it possible)” and the Egyptian pyramids, which were “essentially vast beer storerooms.”
History has never made so much sense as it does now, thanks to Chris O’Brien, author of Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World. Yes, I can drink to that!
As always, support sustainability. Drink local, wherever you may be.
Today, voters are going to the polls in runoffs to decide two elections that I covered here in their first rounds: Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Both linked posts have lengthy and interesting comment threads, thanks to the propagators.)
In both cases, the leading candidate was sufficiently close to a majority in the first round, and (especially in Congo) sufficiently ahead of the closest challenger, that a victory by the leading first-round candidate is almost assured. In Brazil, incumbent president Lula obtained 48.6% of the vote in the first round against 41.6% for Geraldo Alckmin. In Congo, incumbent president Joseph Kabila won 45%, and his closest challenger was very far behind, at only around 20%.
This does not mean, however, that the runoff campaign was superfluous. In each case, the runoff may encourage coalition concessions that might not otherwise be made, and that may be necessary for stable governance after the election. This advantage is especially relevant to the Congo, for two reasons: (1) The system there, unlike Brazil, is premier-presidential, meaning that the president has to construct a cabinet that can obtain majority confidence from the legislature; (2) The Congolese party system is absurdly fragmented and regionally divided, such that there can be little presumption that the plurality winner really reflects the majority.
In both countries, legislative elections were held at the same time as the first round of the presidential election.
Obviously, we have a pretty nice climate here overall. Just look at all the fruit we can grow. But there are two really big drawbacks of this climate. One is periods of depressing gloom and fog. The other is the frightening fire-weather season.
We have had both in the past week. Wednesday was a day of dense fog that took a long time to clear–common in spring and early summer, but really unusual in late October. The above photo shows our the view to the northeast, over our avocado grove, last Thursday at around 11:00 a.m.
If you have seen news reports of the so-called Esperanza fire, this is its result over Ladera Frutal. The fire is about 45 miles away, but the ‘Santa Ana’ winds blew a lof of smoke our way. (Look closely–which is easier on the larger version that will open if you click the image–and you can see either a hawk or a turkey vulture soaring in the wind, near the center of the photo.)
Then the winds died down–here, at least–and the smoke settled in. The second photo is of the setting sun. Yes, that is the sun.
This week is exactly three years since the horrific firestorms that gripped San Diego County. When the winds died down for a couple of days while those fires were burning, the smoke was so bad here in Moosa Canyon that it was like a dense ground fog, only one that left eyes and lungs hurting. Last Thursday was the worst I have seen since then, and I could still smell a little smoke today, but obviously this has not been even close to that awful week in 2003.
Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, and especially to their stable of ex-Angels! Not only are they the 2006 World Series Champions, they are the first NL team in this era of American League dominance to win a World Series in five games or less since the 1990 sweep by the Reds. I am not sure which of 1990 or 2006 is a bigger upset, but they are both up there with the 1954 Giants (surely the biggest World Series upset of all time).
The Tigers really fell apart. An objectively better team that won 95 games, despite a bad last two months, in an objectively better league. But they spent one week of October playing like the team that almost squandered its playoff spot, while the Cardinals spent three weeks looking nothing like the team that nearly blew a seven game lead with barely over a week to play.
Baseball is strange. When do pitchers and catchers report?
Continuing with today’s World of Baseball theme, congratulations to the Fighters of Nippon Ham for winning the Japan Series for the first time in forty four years! The team features ex-Expo Fernando Seguignol, who hit a series-clinching home run, and was managed by Trey Hillman, who is being considered for the Texas Rangers’ managerial opening. It was also the final game for Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who is retiring. I think the good luck charm for the Fighters had to be the Shinjo t-shirt that a colleague recently brought me from Japan.
UPDATE: Antonio has some extremely kind words in the comments! In his last paragraph, he refers to five grandes maestros of contemporary political science: Lijphart, Taagepera, Linz, Grofman, and Sartori. Indeed, he has named those whom I consider to be my principal role models among senior scholars I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with, as their student or colleague (and I would also add Bing Powell and the late Harry Eckstein). Since my grad school days or shortly thereafter, each of these men was a role model not only for his remarkable, foundational academic achievements, but also for guidance graciously offered in the formative years of my academic experience.
Sure, some aspects of blogging are vanity, no doubt: the chance to do things I love to do (write and profess) and be read by people other than the readers of political-science journals (a narrow readership if there ever was one) or my students (who have little choice in such matters). Then there is the public service aspect: Someone may learn about a newly available fruit variety or growing technique, or maybe even understand electoral systems better from one of my posts. But there is a very direct individual benefit, too. Sometimes a reader points me to something in the academic literature that I might otherwise have missed. From Antonio’s comment to a remark I made in the Brazil presidential election thread about methods of electing presidents under different configurations of presidential power:
regarding your comments whether the majority runoff system is best for premier-presidential systems, but the logic for plurality (or qualified plurality, DCRâ€¦) is stronger the stronger the presidency a recent work by Heather Stoll argues that the greater the power of president (â€œthe power of prizeâ€) the more electoral coordination we will find both within electoral districts and aggregating accross them. In a more recent paper also Allen Hicken (your disciple?) suggest a non-linear relationship between the powers of the president and the number of presidential candidates. Increasing presidential powers is associated with fewer presidential candidates over a moderate range of presidential power. However, where presidents are extremely weak or extremely powerful increasing presidential power actually produces a larger number of candidates. Hicken demonstrates that the substantive effect of presidential powers on the effective number of candidates is more than twice as large as the effect of the electoral formula (plurality, majority run-offâ€¦).
Nifty. And thanks, Antonio!
This experience is a twist on the “blogging and academia” theme that I first noted back when this orchard was newly planted.
In case the cold, rainy weather in the World Series has got you down, Baseball Think Factory reminds us that just about now the winter leagues are getting underway. This year Los Dos Valenzuelas are on the Ãguilas de Mexicali roster!
UPDATE: Well, they got the game in, without any significant rain, though an obviously slick field. The Tigers suddenly find themselves in need of a three-game winning streak.
Oh, no, I am not forecasting who is going to win the World Series. This postseason has confounded forecasting. I am just wondering when they will be able to play the World Series. With the Cardinals leading the Series, 2-1, and Game 4 having been rained out last night in St. Louis, when might they be able to play again? (more…)
A just-released poll by Borge and Associates, reported in El Nuevo Diario, shows Sandinista leader and ex-president Daniel Ortega right on the cusp of victory in the first round of Nicaragua’s 5 November presidential election.
Nicaragua is one of the countries in Latin America that uses a variant of qualified plurality to elect its president. In Nicaragua’s case, 35% suffices for a one-round victory, as long as the margin is at least five percentage points (and 40% would suffice, regardless of margin).
With a week and a half to go, Ortega is within the margin of error of a first-round victory. However, if he fails to make the 35%, or Montealagre rises to within five points of Ortega, the latter probably will not return to the presidency. Ortega probably can’t win a runoff, although in trial heats all the matchups are too close to call.
Interestingly, variants of qualified plurality–a threshold vote share less than 50%, with or without a margin requirement–are used nowhere outside the Americas that I know of. Some US states have 45% or 40% thresholds for first-round victory in statewide offices, Costa Rica has a 40% threshold, and in addition to Nicaragua, there are combined threshold and margin requirements in Argentina (including some provincial governors) and Ecuador (and Uruguay for party presidential primaries).
I like the qualified-plurality concept generally, though I prefer a moving threshold and margin, where the farther the leading candidate is from 50%+1, the greater the margin over the runner-up must be in order to avoid a runoff. For example, under the Double Complement Rule,* the plurality suffices if the runner-up’s shortfall from 50% is double that of the leading candidate. So, to win with 35% of the vote, the leading candidate would need a fifteen-point margin over the second candidate. Will Ortega lead by fifteen points? No; probably not even ten. But five is quite possible, and will suffice if he himself reaches 35% of the vote.
Thanks to Sean, one of my students, for the tip on the poll. And thanks also to Bancki for alerting me to an error (now corrected) in the final paragraph.
* Originaly proposed by Rein Taagepera and Matthew Shugart, in Comparative Political Studies, 1994. (At the time, there were no systems in place with margin requirements; only thresholds.)
I would not usually take note of an Iranian government minister–in this case the minister of agriculture–being subjected to a no-confidence motion, and surviving. But this story, from The Peninisular On-line (Qatar) is a reminder that Iran is a bit more complex than typically understood in the ‘West’.
Lawmakers who sought to unseat Mohammad Reza Eskandari mustered 98 votes, falling short of the required simple majority of the 247 MPs who voted, state radio reported. Parliament has 290 seats. [in other words, it failed by 26 votes--MSS]
Some members of parliament, which is dominated by the Abadgaran faction that backed Ahmadinejadâ€™s presidential bid last year, have become increasingly critical of the government, particularly its failure to rein in rising prices.
The debate was broadcast live on state radio, and takes place in a context of upcoming elections.
Political bickering has been mounting ahead of December elections to a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to dismiss the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Local council polls will be held at the same time.
Khamenei, Iranâ€™s highest authority, told officials this month to stop criticising the government in public [evidently without effect--MSS].
The Assembly of Experts is indeed directly elected by the voters, though, as with all elected posts in Iran, the candidates must be vetted by the Council of Guardians, made up of senior clerics elected by the Experts. I have seen news reports that the vetting process for Experts candidates is itself a campaign issue for the upcoming elections.
Some months ago, Ahmadinejad failed in several attempts to get his oil minister confirmed by parliament, before finally settling on a compromise candidate. And this was the second attempted no-confidence motion in one of his ministers, although the other did not reach a vote.
No, Iran is not a democracy. But it is also not the tyranny that most Americans, Europeans, and Israelis presumably imagine it to be.
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