Josep Colomer has posted at his blog a picture of a Latvian ballot and a video* about the voting process.
The Latvian party-list PR system is unusual in that voters may mark not only one or more votes for candidates that they favor on their party list, but may also cross off names they want to reject. The winning candidates within any party are those with the highest totals of positive votes, minus negatives. I guess we could call this variant on open-list PR the “approval/disapproval vote.”
* Unfortunately, I was not able to make the video play.
By way of DW, here is a good example of the “mostly” in the phrase I use from time to time to describe presidencies in parliamentary democracies as “mostly ceremonial”:
German President Horst KÃ¶hler exercised his first presidential veto on Tuesday, quashing a law that would have partially privatized air traffic control in Germany. But that doesn’t mean the issue is settled. [...]
In withholding his signature from the law, which was passed by a wide parliamentary majority and with support from opposition political parties, KÃ¶hler said the German constitution required the federal government to retain sovereignty over matters of public security.
It was the first time that KÃ¶hler has declared legislation passed by Germany’s two parliamentary bodies, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, unconstitutional. A largely ceremonial position, the German president generally stays out of daily political discussions but is required to sign laws before the can take effect. [see full story]
Previous discussions here of the “mostly” in “mostly ceremonial”:
The Ontario provincial government will introduce legislation to enable a referendum next October on whatever new electoral system the Citizens Assembly might recommend. The referendum would be concurrent with the next provincial parliamentary election. Currently, Ontario has no law on referendums.
It is now a done deal. Avigdor Lieberman will join the Israeli cabinet. The Labor party, whose own internal indiscpline prompted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to seek to broaden the government, now has to determine whether it will remain. Labor leader and Defense Minister Amir Peretz today will seek clarifications as to whether the coalition guidelines that he signed on to after the elections in March still apply. Olmert repeatedly has said that they will not change, and while the Labor party will be split, it will probably remain rather than risk a very uncertain future in opposition. (Polls have not been kind to the party recently.)
Lieberman will get the new portfolio of Minister of Strategic Threats (read: Iran). His Yisrael Beiteinu party is big enough to entitle it proportionally to three or four portfolios.
Senior members of Olmert’s Kadima Party said they thought Lieberman had agreed to this deal because he expects Labor to quit the coalition within a matter of months, after which Yisrael Beiteinu will be able to help itself to the vacant ministries.
Lieberman, who is competing with Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party (of which Olmert was a member till late last year) for leadership of the right, apparently feared losing out if he did not grab what he could now. Likud was briefly flirting with joining the cabinet. (If Labor were to withdraw, then talks with Likud would almost have to resume; if Labor remains, Lieberman has outflanked Netanyahu.)
As part of the condition of Lieberman’s joining the government, Olmert successfully pressured his cabinet to vote Lieberman’s bill to radically alter the executive-legislative structure out of cabinet and into the Knesset. The vote was 12-11, and it is not likely to prosper in the Knesset. (Even less likely to prosprer is Lieberman’s idea of raising the electoral threshold to 10%. Yes, ten percent.)
If anyone doubted that Olmert’s “Convergence Plan” (unilateral withdrawals from occupied territories) was dead, this seals it. Lieberman is one of Israel’s most vocal opponents of the plan.
UPDATE: Labor will remain in cabinet, but the Arab MKs within the party’s ranks are not too pleased with the decision to cooperate with Lieberman (who would like to see Israel’s borders and citizenship laws redrawn to exclude Arabs). The Arab MKs probably will not leave the party, but will join Peretz’s intraparty opposition in next year’s leadership election.
The basic summary is that likely Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to respect seniority in determining committee chairs, but to keep them on a short leash.
This is, of course, about balancing the demands of the Black Caucus (currently 43 members, including many with long tenure) and the conservative Blue Dogs (currently 37 members, with at least a dozen of their endorsed candidates among the most likely challengers to beat Republican incumbents).
Interesting, Republicans are using the prospect of some of the likely chairs (Hastings, Dingell, Rangel) as campaign issues in some races.
A question to ponder (and I do not have an answer) is whether a narrow win or a huge win means more influence for the high-seniority (and often farthest left ideologically) chairs. More seats in the Democratic caucus means more victories in usually safe Republican districts that would be lost quickly by a liberal overreach, but it also potentially means more vindication for the left of the caucus, which will claim a “mandate.” Either way, Pelosi has her work cut out for her (if her party indeed wins).
The Guardian reports that Clare Short, a UK Labour MP for 23 years, has quit her party and will be an independent for her Birmingham Ladywood constituency, “free to campaign for a hung parliament, a check on the executive and an end to presidential government.” (The latter remark represents a common misnomer that assumes that an overly centralized parliamentary party has been “presidentialized.”)
She had been repeatedly warned by party leaders that her support for a hung parliament meant she was opposed to the election of some Labour MPs. The LibDems had hoped to lure her, but her resignation letter pointedly says she will remain a social democrat (and is thus not a liberal).
She has been a dissenter from the Blair government’s Iraq policy since the beginning, and as No Right Turn (NZ) notes, the surprise is that she did not quit much sooner.
Short is also an advocate of eletoral reform, which is, of course, totally consistent with her position against centralization of executive authority.
In a previous thread, we have discussed the Yitsug Shalem electoral system proposed by Israeli President Moshe Katsav’s commission on governance. The proposal is a single-vote mixed-member system with a 75/25 split between the nominal-plurality and compensation tiers. (It is not a list tier, because the proposal has no party list, per se, but rather is based on “best losers.”)
For reasons already discussed in the previous thread (mainly by the propagators), the electoral-system proposal is a bad one for minority representation (despite the claims of the proposal’s principal author).
Here I want to highlight a few other aspects of the proposal that are not specifically matters of the electoral system, but rather of the broader system of governance. They amount to a logically incoherent and broderline authoritarian set of proposals.
The author of the proposal and of the Haaretz overview of it, Aharon Nathan, gives as one of the key advantages of the proposed electoral system its creation of single-member constiutency MKs, “which creates a bond between the MK and his/her constituents, increasing accountability in the process.”
Yet any alleged benefit from constituency linkage and accountability would be meaningful only if it gave the members so elected the ability to dissent from the party line if doing so was in the interest of the constituency. But such dissent is manifestly not the intent of the proposal’s authors.
In order to add to the stability of future governments, the introduction of this new electoral system needs to be accompanied by measures to strengthen the cohesion of political parties in the Knesset and the position of the prime minister.
How to do this? The proposal would force–yes, force–MKs whose parties formed a governing coalition to vote with the government or else forfeit their seats (with a by-election in the case of a constituency MK or replacement by the next-best-loser in the case of a compensatory member).
As if that were not enough, while it would take 61 of 120 votes in the Knesset to confirm a new Prime Minister, “Dismissing him/her should necessitate a majority of, say, 80 or 90 MKs.”
As if that still were not enough, the PM would have the right to appoint anyone to a cabinet position and to dismiss ministers unilaterally.
It is worth noting that the increased independence of the chief executive (stemming mainly from the supermajority requirement for a vote of no confidence) would enhance the incentive of MKs of the governing coalition to dissent from their party line (because doing so would be less likely to put the government itself at risk), and thus would be consistent with the desire for constituency accountablity of individual MKs. Yet the proposal has severe penalties for just such dissent from the party line.
This proposal would greatly enhance central executive authority, without making that executive accountable to the electorate, through popular election.
Dean and Greenberg, Lolich and Brock. Party like it’s 1968. Or 1934, depending on your team/league peferences. For only the third time in baseball history, the two teams from Detroit and St. Louis, cities with great baseball tradition, will match up in the World Series.* The Series will treat the baseball fan to two of the most beautiful new stadiums in the current renaissance of ballpark construction.
The Tigers should be favored, having come out of a much stronger division and the dominant league. On the other hand, the last two teams that limped into the postseason with 85 wins or less, yet made it to the World Series, played seven against a superior opponent (the 1973 Mets, who lost, and the 1987 Twins, who won).
That game last night was outstanding. I would say it was the third best Game 7 in LCS history, after 1992 (NL) and 2003 (AL). It did not match up to the great seventh games in even recent World Series history (2001, 1997, 1975), but maybe the Cardinals and Tigers will yet have one of those in store.
And that catch and double play by Endy Chavez–where does that rate in alltime postseason defensive gems? Quite high! When he came up to bat in the half-inning after his tie-preserving catch, with the bases loaded and two out, the script seemed set. But, alas for Mets fans, Chavez did not hit a grand slam or even draw a tiebraking walk.
* Fans of numbers (and isn’t that what all baseball fans are?) will note that this third match-up comes four years too late. But there was a mission to be accomplished in 2002.
A new twist on the “personal vote” here. I can’t believe it. I have studied electoral systems for a couple of decades now, and it never occured to me that FPTP might elect uglier politicans. (Apparently, the best looking come from open lists, and US primaries do OK, too, on this score.)
Read all about it at The Sharpener (with thanks to MMVC for the tip, and for raising the question of whether this is “a good thing or a bad thing” ).
Rodger Payne reminds me that I should actually open up that issue of PS that came in the mail recently.
The latest issue of PS includes two different political science studies, using different methodologies, which conclude that the Democrats will pick up 22 seats in the House.
He then adds:
Apparently, the latest polling also suggests a solid Democratic victory — though it seems premature to talk of a “landslide.”
Back in mid-August when the generic polling lead that the Democrats held was 14.65 percentage points, a twenty-two-seat pickup was at the low end of my very different estimation methodology. I suggested it could be as high as 42 (but was more likely to be near the lower end, owing to the diminshed responsiveness of the House electoral system in recent times).
Charles Franklin‘s current (10 Oct.) estimate of the Democratic polling advantage is slightly lower, at 12.8 (although when I eyeball the graph, it looks higher to me than it would have been two months ago, despite a temporary dip in the interim).
As Rodger notes, there is still time for the Republicans to gin up the fear factor: It’s us or the terrorists. They’ll try it, but can it work yet again?
Seven is a great number. Especially when we are talking about postseason series. And now, finally, in a postseason when all the other series have been short (three of four Division Series were sweeps, as was the ALCS; only the Tigers – Yankees Division Series saw the losing team manage to win even one game), the NLCS will go to Game 7 tonight.
And an interesting one it should be. The Mets will start Oliver Perez, who bounced from the Pirates to the minors to the Mets and struggled all year to keep his ERA south of seven. Expect the Mets to use a classic “staff” effort in this game, with Darren Oliver, various “short” relievers possibly coming in early, and maybe even a cameo by Tom Galvine. The Cardinals are in better shape with Jeff Suppan, whom they had hoped to save for Game 1 of the World Series.
Whoever wins this series gets one day off before facing the Tigers, who will have had a whole week off.
Looking at the Mets’ pitching, it is hard to believe this team won 97 games. Sure, they are missing two intended starters in Pedro and El Duque. But it is not as though they got all that much out of either of them in the regular season. (Plus, John Maine, who has been good in two starts in this series, including Game 6, probably would not even have been on the roster had El Duque been able to go.)
The Mets won 97 games and have been taken to a seventh game of the NLCS by a team that struggled to win 83. The Tigers won 96 in a much tougher league and in the toughest division this year in either league, and they mauled two teams with 90-plus wins to get this far. The World Series looks like it will be one-sided (but one never knows–that’s why they play the games!). So enjoy the only winner-take-all game you are likely to see this postseason!
Various news media reports in the past week have hinted at a possible reform of the first round of the Major League Baseball playoff system (the Division Series).
A change to a best-of-7 is evidently not being contemplated; however, a change intended to limit the prospects of a wild-card team advancing beyond the Division Series is being considered.* Presumably, a desirable side effect would be to enhance the incentive to play for the division title when two teams in one division are both assured of advancing, rather than play as if the wild card is just as good. In other words, the existing incentive structure is being deemed insufficuent. Under the current structure, the only incentive for winning the division rather than the wild card is denying the wild-card team home-field advantage in the Division Series and, if it advances, the League Championship Series.
The idea being broached is to give the wild card no more than one home game in the Division Series (instead of the current two, in a series that goes four or five games). In other words, make the home-field advantage bigger than just opening the series with two at home and being assured of being home again for a possible fifth game.
The basic idea–to maximize the integrity of the division races–is a good one. But as I have alluded to in some past discussions of the wild card, the assumption on which the idea is based is flawed. That flawed assumption is that the wild card is an inherently less deserving team than any of the three division winners in the league.
However, the wild card never can have worse than the fourth best record in its league. It can be (and has been) as high as second. A division winner, on the other hand, could be a .500 team or even a sub-.500 team. The last two years have seen one of the NL division winners barely finish above .500. Several times, a division winner has had only the fifth best record in its league, and last year’s Padres advanced to the playoffs with only the seventh best record (and barely avoided being only the ninth–yes, 9th–best).
So, why penalize the wild card when it is not the worst of the playoff-qualifying teams? The assumption is that a division winner is inherently superior because, well, it finished first! That’s a plurality bias (I had to get electoral systems into this planting somehow!), but as soon as MLB went to an odd number of divisions, it had implicitly already abandoned a purely plurality defnition of team success.
I do not necessarily oppose the penalty for being the wild card that is currently under consideration. However, I would suggest that the same penalty be applied to any division winner that finishes with a worse record than the league’s wild card team (provided it is playing a division winner with a better record that the wild card, as will usually be the case).
Further reforms could also be considered. For instance, a division winner that fails to have a record above .500 or ranks worse than fifth in its league’s overall standings could be barred from the postseason in favor of a second wild card. (I suppose MLB would not go for this one, but as an anti-mediocrity, or anti-embarrassment, provision, it makes sense.)
Within the Division Series itself, an alternative to giving the wild card (or, under my addendum, a lower-ranked division winner) a maximum of one home game would be to establish asymmertic criteria for advancement. That is, the higher-seeded team might need one less win than the lower-seeded team to advance (three wins for the higher, but four for the lower seed, or two and three).
I believe any combination of these additional proposals is better than the one MLB is reportedly considering. Whether any are better than the status quo is another matter. I am not convinced MLB is tackling a real problem. But if the problem is real, I am even less convinced of its specific proposal, because the premise that the wild card is inherently inferior is dubious.
* Arguably, lengthening the Division Series would be the most straightforward approach, on the gounds that the inferior team is less likely to beat the superior team four times than it is to beat it three times. However, I rather like the current format of a best-of-5 followed by a best-of-7, and apparently so do MLB and its broadcast partners. Moreover, the underlying problem with a change in the series length is that the assumption that the wild card is, in fact, inferior, may be flawed, as I argue in this discussion.
The proposal is for a ratio of 75% single-member districts to 25% compensatory seats, with a single vote (unlike most mixed-member systems in current use). Wilf notes that it is “almost exactly the MMP model used in Nordrhein-Westfalen, but minus the essential safeguard: overhang seats in case 25% [compensation seats] is not enough.”
In a very detailed and helpful comment in that earlier thread, reader Espen offers a critique that I felt worthy of its own planting. The remainder of this post is not mine; it is Espen’s. I have also moved some follow-up comments from the other thread to this one.
I havenâ€™t been able to find the actual report. But from the description in the Haaretz article it appears as if the commission more or less copied the previous electoral system for the Italian Senate (which still applies in the Trentino-Alto Adige region). An excellent description of that system can be found at electionresources.org/it
The purpose of the 30 additional seats is not to achieve overall proportionality. These seats are instead awarded proportionally based only on votes for candidates that did not win their constituencies initially1– without regard for how many constituency seats their parties already have won. So, it is not a parallel system, nor is it fully compensatory. Its degree of proportionality lies somewhere in between, depending to some degree on how and where the votes are cast.
According to another text written by the same author, found at the commissionâ€™s website (but which apparently describes an earlier version of the proposal), the additional seats are then awarded to initially â€œlosingâ€ candidates in the order in which they were ranked in advance by their parties (a sort of closed list without an actual list in the normal sense).
Such a system would likely lead to the parties forming fewer and clearer pre-election alliances (and the winning coalition most likely getting a larger than proportional share of the seats). But it perhaps would not lead to fewer parties in the Knesset. Small parties could negotiate/blackmail their way to safe constituency seats in return for providing votes for a coalition, as seen in Italy. Also, there would no longer be a national threshold2, but on the other hand small parties might find it hard to run candidates and collect votes in all constituencies.
If Duvergerâ€™s law kicks in, perhaps the larger parties could become more dominant both in terms of votes and seats (especially since there would be no party vote with which the smaller parties could demonstrate their true support level, which would be useful in future bargaining). That seems to be the hope of the drafters, as it was when the one-vote MMP system was introduced in West Germany after the war, and as it was when the MMP systems were introduced in Italy in 1993.
Finally, while the proposal does not achieve the level of proportionality that many participants here would want to see in an MMP system, this is probably the intent of the drafters. Also, I give the commission kudos for avoiding the warped incentive structures that some MMP systems can contain. However, I think they gloss over the challenges of drawing single-member constituency boundaries in Israel.
1. It appears that surplus votes for winning candidates (i.e. votes above the nearest challenger) do not count in the national proportional stage, although I could be mistaken about that. This means that such votes can be â€œwastedâ€ in the sense that they no longer help the top candidate, while not helping elect anyone else, either. However, an inclusion of such votes would reduce proportionality since that would be another advantage for the constituency winners.
2. Assuming that the average constituency winner got 40% of the vote, the 60% who supported none of the initial winners would compete for 30 proportional seats nationally. As one can see, for a small, unattached party the removal of the present 2% hurdle would not be a great improvement. In fact, the proposal might cut their number of seats in half (at least).
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