Update: With 86% of results processed, it is at knife’s edge. 91.6% of the vote is above-threshold, and the two “Orange” parties have 49% of that. They would be right on the cusp of a majority, but possibly below, if that holds. Yanukovych’s Regions have the plurality (33%), as expected, but less than two percentage points ahead of Tymoshenko’s bloc. The Socialists, as I anticipated below, are also right on the cusp of the threshold–currently .03 above. (But at a later update, with 93.3% counted, the Socialists are .04 below. The crossing, or not, of the threshold by the Socialists appears to be the decisive factor in whether the two Orange parties get over 50% of the seats on their own.
Here is the place to watch the results of Ukraine’s election as they come in: CVK/vnd2007. The site shows the national results. You can also check some of the links on the sidebar of that page for results by oblast, which allows you to see if there is a regional bias of the early results. That is important to projecting from early returns, inasmuch as the major parties dominate their respective regions.
There are “only” twenty lists in this election, compared to 45 in March, 2006. In that election, only five lists cleared the 3% national threshold, and 22.3% of votes were cast for parties that fell below it.
The percentage of the vote that is below the threshold will again be almost as critical to the prospects of reviving the “Orange” coalition (Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine) as will the votes for those two lists. A key thing to watch: Whether the Socialist Party, whose turn against the Orange was critical to the current cohabitation with Yanukovych, makes it back into parliament. It will be a close call.
It occurs to me that if the Padres lose the wild-card tiebreaker game in Denver on Monday, their collapse will be a pretty big one, too. Oh, nothing like the Mets’ collapse, but the Padres led either the division or the wild card for much of the season, albeit never by a wide margin.
For every collapse there is a comeback, and the Rockies’ comeback is almost as great as the Phillies.’ On 12 Sept., the Phillies were 7 games out. The Rockies were five games out in the wild card race on the 17th. The Phillies are in, while the Rockies, who have won 13 of their last 14 games, still need to win an “overhang game” against the Padres.
The Rockies are 50-31 at home this year. Huge advantage, Colorado.
Mets lose. Phillies win. Thus ended a collapse to rival that of the 1995 Angels. The Mets led by 7 games just over two weeks ago. And now they go home.
The failure of both teams to win their games today means that, once again, we will not have a three-way tie for a postseason berth. Or the 4-way tie that was a possible scenario entering today’s play.
We could still have a tiebreaker for the wild card, as the Padres don’t seem to want it. Tony Gwynn, Jr., spoiled a near clinch yesterday with a hit of the style that made the Gwynn name famous. Barring a huge comeback by the Padres today, San Diego will either “back in” or head to Denver for a tiebreaker tomorrow. Somehow, neither the Rockies nor the Diamondbacks could score in their game today till the Rockies broke through in the bottom of the sixth.
And the Diamondbacks already clinched the NL’s best record yesterday, and would need quickly to score a lot of runs in the remainder of today’s game (possible, it’s in Denver, after all) to avoid being outscored on the season. Best record, and thus home-field advantage in both rounds, for a team that would be “expected” to be under .500! What a season! What a league!
Only a few deciduous trees in this Mediterranean climate show good fall foliage color, and those that do often don’t show it till late October or into November. So, around these parts, “fall color” means the ripening of the persimmons.
The tree in front is the ‘Coffeecake’ (a.k.a. ‘Nishimura Wase’), always the first to ripen here. It has its color, but it will be several days before the first fruit is edible. Other persimmons stand uphill from it, with fruit that will ripen in the coming month.
Above the persimmons, at around 0900 local time, the moon is visible, at just about halfway between its full and third-quarter phases. Just as it should be, with today being the fourth day of Sukkot. (It is good to know some things remain in alignment!) This is the waning harvest moon, and persimmons are always one of the main harbingers that the late fall harvest season is coming.
Today is the Ukrainian “snap” parliamentary election–almost exactly 18 months after the last one, which was supposed to be for a four-year term.
The Economist has a reasonably good summary of the campaign. However, it makes the mistake of referring to the plurality by the Party of Regions (led by Viktor Yanukovych) as the “big winner” of that election. Given that Yanukovych himself had won 46% in the two-candidate presidential runoff in December, 2004, after having won 41% in the first round (which was probably somewhat inflated by fraud), his party’s 32% in March, 2006, was less than a “big” viktory.
The Australian notes the results of a recent poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology:
Yanukovych’s Regions Party will win 34 per cent, followed by the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc with 25.7 per cent, and Mr Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party with 11.9 per cent.
It is striking how almost static the political support of these three parties has been. See the table of results below (which has been discussed at various earlier plantings on Ukraine, which you can find by clicking the country name in the “planted in” line above, and scrolling).
One key to this election will be the extent of the below-threshold vote. Ukraine elects its parliament by a single nationwide district, 3% threshold. In March, 2006, the 32% for Regions translated into 41% of the above-threshold vote, while Tymoshenko and Yushchenko’s blocs combined for around 47%. A small increase in their combined votes, or a decline in votes cast for below-threshold parties (perhaps accompanied by a likely smaller turnout) could give these two “Orange Revolution” parties together a majority in parliament.
However, the real key is not so much the election result–unless there is a surprise–but the bargaining after the election. That bargaining, more than the election result itself, will determine whether Tymoshenko and Yushchenko can resume their former coalition, or whether the current cohabitation of the two Viktors will continue.
Click the image to open a larger format in a new window.
So, here we are, at the last weekend of the regular season. The AL playoff picture has been clear for a while now, as far as who the four teams would be. But almost any combination–other than Yankees vs. Red Sox–still remains possible for the first-round match-ups. Each AL playoff team will win at least 92 games and it is still possible–if not exactly likely–that each could have 95. All four remain in contention for league’s best record, though both the Indians and Red Sox would need to lose their season-ending series for either the Yankees or Angels to be in that position, even by sweeping their own series.1 The Angels have spent this past week squandering a good shot at best record, or at least at a better record than the Indians, which is what they needed to open at home against the wild card winner (still most likely the team they love to beat up on, the Yankees) instead of on the road in the east (most likely Boston, where they have not played so well). As of the start of games today, the Yankees and Angels now have identical records (92-67).
Meanwhile, in the JV League, no team yet has 90 wins, and only one, at most, can finish with as many as 92. Seven teams are within two games of a playoff berth. The Rockies are riding an 11-game winning streak–and, amazingly, still could win the West if they have a good final series against current leader, the Diamondbacks. The Phillies have caught the Mets for a first place tie in the east, after the Mets had threatened earlier in the year to run away with it. And the Diamondbacks still could wind up with the best record in the league despite having been outscored over the course of the season. (Going into today’s games, they have been outscored, albeit now by only 11 runs, well down from where it was.) I am not sure whether this weekend will be exciting or embarrassing for the NL. But it is sure to be interesting.
If the two East teams end with the same record, the Yankees have the tiebreaker (head-to-head record); the Yankees and Red Sox each won their season series against the Indians, but the Indians and Angels split their season series. I am not sure how a tie between them would be broken to determine seeding. [↩]
According to various astronomical, arboreal, and climatic indicators, it seems fall is here. The trees of the corralito are still growing somewhat, but they are clearly slowing down and getting ready for winer dormancy. Other than apples and pears–and the amazingly late and delicious ‘Emerald Beaut’ plum–all the deciduous trees at this lowest and coldest (on winter nights) part of the finca are done bearing their crops. The fruit harvest for the year has been mostly ingathered!
This photo it taken from approximately the same vantage point as the previous seasonal views, though I had to alter the angle a bit because, with a full season’s worth of growth, the trees are a much taller and fuller than at any of the other seasonal markers. (It is hard to believe that nearly all the trees in this hedgerow are on “semi-dwarf” rootstocks; size control is about pruning as much as it is about rootstock, and clearly I did not keep up with my summer pruning as well this year as I should have.)
Like the other photos in this series, it shows the extent of the shadow of the nearby grapefruit trees. It should be pretty much the same as at the vernal equinox, of course, and the shadow will cover much of the hedgerow at the winter solstice–thereby helping maximize (or “cheat on“) chill–whereas in midsummer, the trees are almost fully in the sun for most of the day (as they must be to ripen their fruit).
The photo above was taken on 25 September, at solar noon (12:40). That’s after the equinox, correct? Well, I sure would have thought so. Calendars indicate that the equinox was on Sunday, the 23rd. Yet, if we go by the Time and Date website, and understand “equinox” as that 24-hour period when the daylight and night hours are equal, then the equinox would really be the night of 26-27 September.
26-27 September? Well, that just happens to coincide this year with 15 Tishri, which, of course, is the first night of Sukkot. The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox–the perfect night to begin an eight-day celebration of the harvest!
The moon will indeed be full here on 26 September. According to Time and Date, it will reach its fullness at 12:45 PM, or almost exactly at solar noon, though of course the moon will not be visible then. That means that, here in the San Diego area, it will be just about as full tonight as it will be tomorrow. And, indeed, just now, at about the same time as sunset, the “full” moon has risen over the ridge to the east!
Naturally, in Jerusalem, where the sighting of the full moon in ancient days would have led to the declaration that Sukkot was beginning, the moon will indeed reach its fullness on the evening of 26 September/15 Tishri (at 9:45 PM, local time).
Rejoice in the harvest! Fall is here! Chag ha-Asif sameach!1
Russia Profile has an interesting article on the party lists that are now in the process of being registered for Duma elections.
At the federal level, voters know parties mostly by the top three candidates on the party list who will be the first to enter the Duma if a party receives more than 7 percent of the vote nationwide.
With the notable exception of United Russia [the ruling party], almost all parties made their top three candidates public at their conventions.
Parties that are at risk of winning less than 7% of the nationwide votes are really struggling to stand out by personalizing their lists:
The smaller parties, striving to attract attention, put popular figures and TV personalities on their lists, even if the credentials of those people were somewhat controversial. The Civil Force, a party popularly seen as a “spoiler” group aimed at stealing the liberal vote from the Union of Right Forces, is headed by attorney Mikhail Barshchevsky, a popular figure on various intellectual TV shows, and Mariya Arbatova, a fiery feminist and TV personality known for her non-standard views on sex and marriage.
Some experts and prominent public figures expressed dissatisfaction at this tendency, saying that it turns serious politics into a contest for viewers’ sympathies.
“Parties do not know how to attract attention to themselves,” said Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Unity in the Name of Russia foundation, a think tank associated with United Russia. “So they try to attract television viewers by putting familiar faces into their lists who have no real political meaning whatsoever.
When party labels are so weak, and the threshold so high, indeed they do.
The article also notes that, in addition to a national list, there are regional lists, which had not previously been clear to me in any summaries of the new all-list electoral system.
In accordance with recent change in electoral law, for the first time, parties have to register regional lists, with the hope that voters will be able to choose from candidates they know from local news and events.
The election is 2 December. Previous entries on the election can be found by clicking on either of the orchard blocks in which this one was “planted in,” above.
The Nepali Maoists may bring a no-confidence motion against the country’s interim government, formed to prepare the country for post-war constituent assembly elections that were to have been held some months ago.
The news item in the Times of India notes that the Maoists have withdrawn from the government, primarily to try to force the issue of abolishing the country’s monarchy before the constituent assembly is elected. It also notes that a series of demands includes “holding the constituent assembly elections on the basis of proportional representation.” Previously, the electoral system had been tentatively agreed to be a mixed-member majoritarian system.
Click the country name above, in the “planted in” line, for previous posts on the appointed interim parliament and the proposed electoral system.
Ukraine’s early-term parliamentary election is one week from today. A TZ-NZ report sums it up well. Noting that the two Viktors–Premier Yanukovych and President Yushchenko were campaigning in their strongholds, it said:
The speeches at opposite ends of the country of 47 million will do nothing to allay doubts that the election can end months of deadlock and bridge the gap between two competing traditions.
Meanwhile, Yanukovych on Thursday threatened to withdraw from the election, prompting me to wonder if a governing party has ever boycotted an election anywhere in the annals of elections.
Polling appears to show Regions (Yanukovych’s party) with a plurality, but with the two erstwhile “Orange” parties together having more votes. In other words, just like March, 2006.
â€¦. The current crisis dates from June 10, when the Flemish Christian Democrats, who demand greater autonomy for Flanders, came in first with one-fifth of the seats in Parliament. Yves Leterme, the party leader, would have become prime minister if he had been able to put together a coalition government. But he was rejected by French speakers because of his contempt for them – an oddity since his own father is a French speaker. He further alienated them, and even some moderate Flemish leaders, on Belgiumâ€™s national holiday, July 21, when he appeared unable – or unwilling – to sing Belgiumâ€™s national anthem.
Belgiumâ€™s mild-mannered, 73-year-old king, Albert II, has struggled to mediate, even though under the Constitution he has no power other than to appoint ministers and rubber-stamp laws passed by Parliament. He has welcomed a parade of politicians and elder statesmen to the Belvedere palace in Brussels, successively appointing four political leaders to resolve the crisis. All have failed.
On one level, there is normalcy and calm here. The country is governed largely by a patchwork of regional bureaucracies, so trains run on time, mail is delivered, garbage is collected, the police keep order.
Officials from the former government – including former Prime Minister Guy Verhhofstadt, who is ethnically Flemish – report for work every day and continue to collect salaries. The former government is allowed to pay bills, carry out previously decided policies and make urgent decisions on peace and security.
Earlier this month, for example, the governing Council of Ministers approved the deployment of 80 to 100 peacekeeping troops to Chad and a six-month extension for 400 Belgian peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon under United Nations mandates. But a new government will be needed to approve a budget for next yearâ€¦
The turning point is widely believed to have been last December when RTBF, a French-language public television channel, broadcast a hoax on the breakup of Belgium. The two-hour live television report showed images of cheering, flag-waving Flemish nationalists and crowds of French-speaking Walloons preparing to leave, while also reporting that the king had fled the country. Panicked viewers called the station, and the prime ministerâ€™s office condemned the program as irresponsible and tasteless. But for the first time, in the public imagination, the possibility of a breakup seemed real.
Is this the most famous example of a television program changing politics since Indian TVâ€™s dramatising the â€œRamayanaâ€ helped (it is said) rekindle voter support for the BJP?
_________ As noted, the above is by frequent propagator, Tom Round. He correctly noted that there is (or was) no Belgium (or, more generally, Benelux) thread at F&V. While there had been previous threads on the Netherlands, I do believe this entry by Tom is the first on Belgium. How I failed to note the Belgian election earlier this year is quite a mystery.–MSS
Yes, the Orchardist is mooning his readers yet again. But fortunately for all of you, it’s just another moon shot. With the trusty digital camera, that is.
I like the way the moon, as viewed in the photo, is pretty much exactly at its first quarter1 and visible well before sundown, at which point the Hebrew calendar date will be 8 Tishri, indicating that the first week of the year’s first month has passed. And I like the way it appears just above a cloud. Today was the first day in a while at Ladera Frutal with significant clouds, not counting that weird tropical stuff earlier in the month (the Gregorian month of September, that is).
It felt like fall, and, of course, this Friday Sunday morning is the first day of fall.2 Today was also the first day since 11 June that the high temperature (71) was below 75. And while the cloud cover kept the overnight low in the 60s, the glorious clear morning of Shabbat Shuvah had a low of 52, also the lowest since early June. Yes, I do believe we are turning towards fall; there is even the beginning of leaves turning in the corralito.3
I find it interesting how the trees do not quite know how to cope this time of year. Their older leaves are turning color or even falling already. But the trees are still putting out new leaves, just in case it’s not really time to rest yet.
The next quarter of the moon will mark the beginning of Sukkot, the season of our joy for the harvest. I just love how the Jewish calendar connects the moon to the seasons, and thus to the cycles of agriculture. Rabbi Jill Hammer sums it up well, and includes a reason for why Sukkot should be (and perhaps actually was at one time) the New Year rather than Rosh ha-Shanah. So, here’s another Shanah Tovah to all F&V readers, on this “pivot” day, halfway between Rosh ha-Shanah and Sukkot!
The precise first quarter (i.e. the half moon) actually was at 9:48 this morning, well past the previous night’s moonset. [↩]
Not to forget my southern hemisphere readers, I am of course speaking from my northern-hemispherist point of view. Originally I thought the equinox was 21 September, but it was actually 23 September, 0951 UTC. [↩]
And on the morning of 21 September the low temperature was actually 44 at the corralito! [↩]
In a church basement, a group of voters here for a meeting to improve their speaking skills agree on one thing: the proposed mixed-member proportional electoral system is baffling.
I would certainly take issue with that. And with the claim by one audience member that the list MPs are “not representing anyone.”
Predictably, some in the audience object to dual candidacy. As one put it:
That doesn’t seem terribly fair… It seems you [should] get one or the other. You don’t default to the second because you lost in the first.
As I have noted before, it really is necessary to have dual candidacy for MMP to work well. In fact, members who run in a district but win due to the list are representing voters more than those in a (hypothetical) MMP system who did not run in a district yet win via the list. But I recognize that it is a hard sell, because the quaint old notions of clear winners and losers upon which FPTP–and all its attendant disproportionality and wasting of votes–is based is so entrenched.
I might note that a thread on dual candidacy is, I believe, the most commented-on here in the two years of F&V.
Meanwhile, the Edmonton Sun has a really crackpot editorial about how Ontario “could muck up” all of Canada by opening the door to “extremists” like “burka wearing Muslims, evangelical Christians and the ultra-orthodox Jews.” It also claims, in the face of clear evidence, that MMP and party lists would not result in more women being elected.
The ruling New Democracy clings to a narrow majority: 152 seats (50.6%) on 41.8% of the vote.
I still am not clear on the details of the electoral system, but by backwards induction from the result, it appears that the proportional seats are indeed calculated as if there were a 260-seat national district, with the additional 40 seats added on for the party with the nationwide plurality of the vote.
Via EuroTrib, the parties that made it into parliament have the following seat totals, vote percentages (and change in seats and votes from 2004):
Those parties combine for 93.7% of the votes cast, leaving 6.3% to be wasted on parties falling below the 3% threshold.
ND’s 41.8% would thus be 44.6% of the above-threshold national vote. Give them the 40 seats they automatically get rewarded with just for having the vote plurality, and you get an expected seat total of 156, or 4 more than the ND appears actually to have won:
(.446 x 260) + 40 = 116 + 40 =156
I am not sure what proportional formula might be used for the above-threshold national allocation, but it actually appears to have slightly under-represented the leading party (before the addition of the bonus seats, that is).
As was widely reported as expected prior to the election, the various smaller parties (including the far right) did very well. But not well enough to deprive the incumbents of their less-than-deserved new term.
The EuroTrib post, linked above, has some really valuable background information on the campaign and the parties (posted by a Greek writer who notes he voted for SYRIZA, as your Orchardist no doubt would have, had he had the opportunity.)
See also the Greek Interior Ministry site with results (yes, in English!). The pages still show seats by district, so while it appears (as I noted above) that the overall result is calculated as if there were a 260-seat district, evidently the 260-seat PR portion remains a two-tier system.
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