Well, he did it again. For the second time in four years, Josh Beckett took the mound with his team down in a League Championship Series, 3-1, and turned in a dominating start (with 11 K’s each time). In the 2003 NLCS, his Marlins went on the road for games 6 and 7, and won them both and thus the championship. This year, his Red Sox go home for games 6 and 7.
My previous ballyard entry spoke of the historic patterns of wins by teams leading after being up, 3-1. Here I will add that, at least in World Series between 1933 and 2002 (the period I studied for a research presentation I made some years ago), the home team wins game 6 almost 65% of the time (but game 7 only around 48% of the time). I do not know if there is a similar pattern in LCS play since it went to a best-of-seven format in 1985. (Put on the to-do list!) But, if there is, the combination of a potential strong inherent home-field advantage in game 6 with an advantage in game 7 for a team that has staved off elimination in the two previous games (10 of 14 such seventh games, as noted in the previous entry) gives the Red Sox a pretty good chance in this series.
In 2003, Beckett came back and pitched four innings in relief in Game 7. Would he do the same this year? Expected starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and possible long man, Tim Wakefield, might need it.
The teams are certainly closely matched. Not only did each win 96 games during the regular season; they each now have scored 28 runs in this series.
The following data was posted on-screen at Baseball Tonight (17 Oct. edition).
Led best-of-7 series (World Series or LCS), three games to one:
Lost in seven, 10
We aren’t dealing with a large sample here, and the sample has an annoying tendency to get smaller with each increment to the number of games. But, the pattern is certainly interesting.
At the first two steps after game 4, the number of series won by the series-leading team is about half of all series that reach that point (65–>34–>17). But from six games to seven, the pattern changes. We might expect 7-9 of the teams that have not wrapped up the series yet to do so in game 7. But only four did. Chance? Maybe, as the number of data points is distressingly small here. (We clearly need more seven-game series for the good of science!) But could there be a systematic explanation?
I am usually skeptical of “momentum” as an explanation for a team’s postseason success. But if more than 70% of series that go seven after one team led, 3-1, are won by the team attempting the improbable comeback, that looks like a pretty good definition of momentum. If you can stave of elimination in games 5 and 6, your chances are pretty good in game 7. Of course, just getting that far is the hard part.
The last time a team pulled off a comeback of this sort, its starter for game 5 was Josh Beckett. Can he do it again?
These are even more–far more–luscious to eat than to look at. These are Emerald Beaut plums. It is incredible enough that, with this variety, we can actually be harvesting plums in the second half of October. It is even more incredible how rich and sweet the flavor of this plum is.
At 500-600 chill hours, it isn’t something that can be grown just anywhere. While it had bloomed in the two previous years (it was planted in 2003), it had never brought fruit all the way to maturity before. (It had set a few here and there in past years, but they all dropped.) So, I can’t say whether it really needs closer to 600 chill hours–which we certainly got this past winter, and then some!–or if it might just be entering its peak bearing age. I sure hope it’s the latter. I don’t need as heavy a crop as we had this year, but I sure hope to get this great taste annually.
Also remarkable is not only the lateness, but also the length of the season of this plum. I harvested the first ones as one of our Rosh HaShanah “first fruits” and, while that one was well short of fully ripe, it was certainly good. We have been getting fruit of full ripeness and sweetness since shortly thereafter, and there are still a few left on the tree that are not quite ripe yet. They also keep off the tree, if harvested slightly under-ripe, much better than most plums. One drawback has been that a significant number of the fruits have had some sort of fungus or other problem that I have not seen before–the affected fruit develops reddish patches. If said fruit continues to ripen, it is fine. But some of these fruits have then wrinkled and shriveled without ripening.
It really is a “beaut.” But “emerald”? Most of the summer, yes, but they have not been really good to eat until they have turned this reddish-tinged yellow.
In an earlier planting, I showed what the tree and its heavy load of fruit looked like at the end of August (the third photo at that link).
I just noticed last night that both league’s championship series this year feature a scheduled off day between games four and five. I suppose this has certain advantages for television, and it prevents two games from being played either simultaneously, or with one a day game or a very late start (for the east). I certainly have absolutely no objection to the seventh game of the World Series (if it goes that far) being in November. A shorter offseason is by definition a more tolerable offseason.
However, in a series format that already had two off days in seven games, this is a non-consequential change. That is, teams with relatively less deep pitching staffs get an advantage that would not have been present in past years. Not sure if this differentially effects the contenders in either of this year’s series. But it is a potentially significant change, at least for the AL, where the series is now tied. As for the NL, not much can help a team that loses the first two games at home, though if the Diamondbacks somehow come back, the extra off day may prove to have been significant.
It is finally official. Australia’s expected general election has been confirmed for 24 November. As the Sydney Morning Herald puts it:
Polls all year have shown the government headed for electoral annihilation and Labor heading for a landslide win.
ABC has a fun tool: A slidebar that lets you adjust the vote swing between the Coalition and Labor and see what the expected seat swing would be. It suggests that Labor could take the majority on a swing of just under five percentage points. Various polls have put Labor 12-18 points ahead. So, barring a tectonic shift in voter sentiment, the only real question is how big a majority will Labor win.
(About) half the seats in the Senate will also be at stake.
As most F&V readers know, Australia elects its lower house by alternative vote (or instant runoff, as it has come to be called in the USA), and its upper house by STV (though with most voters just ticking the party-vote option “above the line,” it is almost list PR).
Error corrected, thanks to Alan, in the comments.
In the previous entry here in “The Ballyard” I suggested that the best chance for the Diamondbacks to win this series came from their having (1) Brandon Webb starting Game 1 and probably Game 5, and (2) the home-field advantage.
Well, the Rockies neutralized those supposed advantages pretty quickly in Game 1.
A provincial parliamentary election has been called for 7 November in Saskatchewan.
The New Democratic Party currently holds the government, as it has after seven of the last nine elections, including four straight. It won a very narrow majority (30 of 58 seats) on 44.7% of the votes in 2003.
This will certainly be an election I will watch closely, as the provincial FPTP electoral system has been somewhat anomaly-prone. It has had two plurality reversals in the last six elections, and it has had some rather lopsided majorities, as well. A quick summary:
In 1986, the NDP won, as usual, the most votes (45.2%), but faced a spurious Conservative majority (38 of 64 seats on 44.6% of the vote). The Conservatives had won a rare majority–both votes and seats–in the previous election, so 1986 represented a spurious reelection.
In 1999, the NDP won fewer votes than the ingeniously named Saskatchewan Party (38.7% vs. 39.6%), but the NDP won exactly half the seats (29, to the SK Party’s 26) and was able to form a minority government.
In 1991, the NDP won 83% of the seats on a small majority of votes (51.1%), while the one Conservative vote majority in the last 30 years (54.1% in 1982) gave the party 87.5% of the seats.
This is not the world’s best performing FPTP system!
As has been discussed extensively already in the previous thread (the comments to which have been very interesting), the voters of Ontario rejected a proposal to change their provincial electoral system to MMP. It was not even a close call; a change to MMP would have required the support of 60% of voters (and majorities in 60% of the districts). It received the support of only 36.6%.
The support MMP achieved was somewhat less than what the incumbent Liberal party obtained in the parliamentary elections, which was 42%. Yet that 42% has translated into 71 of 107 seats, or more than 66% (one seat less than a two-thirds majority). This represents a four percentage-points decline in popular support for the Liberals. In 2003 the party also won 71 seats, though out of a total then of 103.
The Conservative party also lost votes, going from 34.6% in 2003 to 31.7% now. It will have 26 of the 107 seats (compared to 25 of 103 in 2003). Its leader, John Tory, was defeated in his own district.
The big vote winners in this election were the New Democrats and Greens, especially the latter. The Green party won 8% in this election, about double what it had before. And, while the NDP would be the closest party to the Greens on many programmatic questions, the party’s vote surge did not come at the NDP’s expense, as the NDP votes went from 14.7% to 16.8%. The NDP also gained seats (from 7 to 10).
The Greens, of course, won no seats. They came closest in the district of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, where their candidate won 35% of the vote, but was defeated easily by a Conservative with 46%. (Do any of my readers know anything about this district? I am intrigued by the sort of place where a Green could get more than a third of the vote! Update: We now have such information in the comments!)
As far as the trusty seat-vote equation is concerned, this is a somewhat unremarkable result. Supporters of MMP will point to the huge manufactured majority, or to the Greens vote gain with no seats, and say, see, we told you so! But it is ho hum. Given this number of voters in the province, this number of seats in the legislature, and these vote totals for the various parties, we would expect a party with 42% of the votes to have won around 69 seats. So it won 71. Yawn. We would expect the Conservatives to have won around 34. So, they were a bit under-represented, relative to expectations, but 8 seats not won out of 107 is hardly enough to prevent the main opposition from functioning.
The NDP is, of course, considerably over-represented. Oh sure, it got only 9.3% of the seats on nearly 17% of the vote. But a third party with just over half the votes of the second party “should” win no more than 4 seats. Luckily for the NDP, it is adapted to FPTP in Ontario. It is sufficiently concentrated to win several seats. In fact, the 7% of seats it won in 2003 was its worst showing in many years. It won as many as 14% of the seats as recently as 1995,1 and actually had a majority in 1990, on a mere 37.6% of the votes–talk about being adapted to FPTP! It is the Greens, on the other hand, who are the maladapted party, with a voter base far too dispersed to win any seats.2
The only “contingent” factor, among those I identify in my academic work on reform in FPTP systems, that was present in Ontario was the coming to power of a party that had long been out of power. Before 2003, the Liberals had spent decades out of power, aside from 1985-90. In 1985 they formed a minority government despite having the second highest seat total, which in turn they had despite having the most votes (in the only somewhat anomalous election in the province). In 1987 they won a very large majority, only to be voted out after one full term. So, it is not surprising that such a party might come to power (as it did in 2003) with a program of “Democratic Renewal” and that it might even want to open up the question of whether to change an electoral system that, if not systematically biased, had not let the party exercise even a share of power (aside from 1985-90) despite its being a party that regularly won 30% or more of the vote.
In other words, the systemic factors predicting a reform process in Ontario were always weak. But there was some partisan-interest factor at work for the Liberals. The problems with partisan-interest factors, of course, are that they (1) may make it harder to convince voters who favor other parties to think reform is also good for them, and (2) the very interest-based factors may shift if the party starts doing better. This is clearly a good time to be a Liberal in Ontario. It is an even better time to be a Liberal under FPTP. And, apparently it is a good time to be an Ontarian: In the absence of systemic factors (whether the electoral system itself, or perceived policy failures and government mandate violations, as during New Zealand’s reform process), there was no general ill feeling towards politics-as-usual to impel voters to vote for reform simply because there is “something wrong.”
The result for the MMP referendum was by no means foreordained. The province has a multiparty system, for which some form of PR would make a lot of sense. Its Citizens Assembly was a model of civic participation, and its 103 members crafted a really sound proposal. But they faced an uphill battle. The result is not a surprise. However, the proposal is out there, and isn’t going to be totally forgotten. If the Greens’ success was not a blip, or if the Liberals are reelected again in 2011 despite losing the party vote (which would be very much within the realm of the possible), or the Conservatives come to power and are perceived to have done so only because of a divided center-left, the supporters of MMP will have their “we told you so!” moment. Maybe somehow the proposal, or something similar, would be dusted off and be put to another vote.
I do not think electoral reform is dead in Ontario. But it is certainly dormant.
I am using seat percentages here, rather than actual numbers, because the size of Ontario’s parliament has been something of a moving target in recent years. [↩]
Ontario has a very small parliament, for its population size. By the cube-root law, it “should have” around 200, or double the current size. But even such a big increase would have made little difference in the expected seat balance in this election. Of course, in the real world, it might have made one Green seat possible and might have put the Conservatives closer to their expected share. I would guess that a doubling of the size of the parliament would be an even tougher sell than MMP–which was to include a 20% increase in the size of parliament (or to about where it was as recently as 1995). [↩]
in P.E.I., a proposal for MMP was defeated in a referendum. Click the link on the province name for discussion. [↩]
In New Brunswick, a planned referendum on a proposal for MMP has been called off. Click the link on the province name for discussion. [↩]
Tuesday’s provincial parliamentary election in Newfoundland and Labrador produced a lopsided majority. The main opposition party, the Liberal Party, was reduced to just three seats, while the NDP held its one seat. The incumbent Conservatives won 43 seats. They also did rather well in the votes: 69.6%, up from 58.7% in 2003. The Liberals won just 22%, down from 33.2% four years earlier. (47 of the 48 seats were at stake; the other race has been delayed due to the death of a candidate.)
Believe it or not, even this result is no exception. The Conservatives “should have” won more than 98% of the seats–perhaps 100%, given that the Liberals’ expectation works out to less than half a seat. In the actual election, all the poor Conservatives could muster was 91.5% of the seats.
Some systemic factors just can’t be beaten down no matter how well you do!
I suspect the Conservatives are not complaining too much, however, about the “bias” against them. Nor the Liberals too pleased with their being “over-represented.”
The League Championship Series are about to begin–the NL today and the AL tomorrow.
I am not in the business of making predictions, but I would be more than mildly surprised if our World Series teams did not turn out to be the Red Sox and Rockies. I would also be somewhat surprised if either series went more than five games.
The Rockies will play the Diamondbacks in what perhaps should be renamed this year the MLCS–Mountain League Championship Series–for it features, for the first time, a matchup between the only two teams to play in the Mountain time zone.
Really, these two series do not look to me like they should be close. The Rockies won the NL Wild Card thanks to an amazing late-season surge and the failure of the Padres’ closer to hold leads in two of the season’s final three games, including the extra game needed to break the tie for the postseason berth with the Rockies. So, superficially, the Rockies are lucky to be here. But not as lucky as the Diamondbacks.
The Rockies just may have been the best team in the NL in 2007. They missed by one game (out of the 162 prior to the tiebreaker) having the league’s best record. The team that has that honor is, of course, the Diamondbacks, despite their having been outscored over the course of the season.
The case for the Rockies as the league’s best team is buttressed by looking at run differentials. Here they are for the four teams that made the playoffs and those that nearly missed (runs by, runs against, difference), going by division:
On this measure, it is not especially a close call. The Rockies, at 102, are the only NL team with a run differential greater than 75. They were second in the league to the Philles in runs scored, but allowed only a relative few runs more than the Mets, who play in a great pitchers’ park (or than the Dodgers, who allowed 727).
Of course, we can’t attribute the Diamondbacks’ success only to luck. Great top-of-the-line relievers, but not an especially deep staff, mean they were likely to win close games, but that deficits early in individual games were likely to grow worse. (Something similar probably accounts for the similar over-achievement of the Mariners, noted below.)
The Diamondbacks made short work of the Cubs in the Division Series, and should have one of the league’s best starters (Brandon Webb) pitch twice (barring a sweep). They also have the home-field advantage as the team with the best W-L record, and playing the Wild Card. They could win this, of course. But I have to think the Rockies are a big favorite, and not only because they have been the hottest team in recent weeks. (Being hot late did not help the Phillies in the postseason, after all.)
As for the AL, the series really ought not to be close. The Red Sox are just too good. On the other hand, Cleveland features two great starting pitchers (Sabbathia and Carmona, who dominated the Yankees’ great lineup), so it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Indians stretch the series out, and perhaps even win it.
But look at these run differentials of the playoff teams and near-misses (and here I will start with the West):
LAA, 822, 731, +91
SEA, 794, 813, â€“19
CLE, 811, 704, +107
DET, 887, 797, +90
BOS, 867, 657, +210
NYY, 968, 777, +191
Wow, look at the Boston differential! And the Yankees were almost as good by this measure. The Angels certainly had an easier time of it in their own division than did the other playoff teams, and this puts the merciless sweep of the ALDS in perspective.
Well, it isn’t what I expect, but here’s hoping that the last three series of the season all go seven!
And, oh, by the way, the Liberals won nearly two thirds of the seats on only 42% of the vote.
More later. Meanwhile, this thread continues to grow. Thanks for the comments. (I have weighed in there a few times, too.)
On 10 October, voters in Ontario will vote in a general provincial election. They will also vote in a very important referendum on whether to change the electoral system for future provincial parliamentary elections from the current FPTP to MMP.
The proposed MMP–mixed-member proportional–electoral system was recommended by a Citizens Assembly, made up of ordinary citizens selected (mostly) at random from the voter rolls (sort of like a grand jury). The assembly was given the task, under law, of deliberating about how elections actually work in Ontario and whether there might be a superior model. If it recommended an alternative, it was legally guaranteed that its proposal would be put up against the current system in a provincewide referendum. That time is now, and Ontario voters can decide whether to keep or change FPTP. Or, rather, a super-majority of Ontario voters can decide to change, as the proposal must obtain 60% provincewide, and majorities in at least 60% of the 107 provincial ridings (electoral districts).
Under the proposal, voters would have two votes–one for a candidate in their local riding (as now), and a second vote for a party list. There would be 90 (instead of the current 107) districts in which a single legislator would continue to be elected by plurality of votes cast. There would be 39 compensatory seats, from closed party lists, allocated to “top up” the seats of any party that had won more than 3% of the provincial party vote, but whose number of districts won was a proportional share (of the full 129 seats) that was less than its party vote share.
There is video debate on CBC that you can watch (about 6.5 minutes long), and CBC also has a list of some of the key arguments for and against.
Meanwhile, in the provincial election, it will be business as usual for FPTP. One party–and it will be the incumbent Liberal party, unless there is a very big surprise–will get “reelected” with around 42% or so of the vote, and is projected to win more than three fifths of the seats. The Conservatives–led by, and I kid you not, John Tory–will win around a third of the votes, but probably under 30% of the seats. The New Democratic Party (NDP) may win around 17% of the votes, but only around 11 seats (10%). The Greens may win five or six percent–and one poll says 11%–of the vote, but almost certainly no seats.
Obviously, Ontario has a multiparty system, and would be well served by a more proportional electoral system, which would raise the prospect of Liberals cooperating with one or more parties. If MMP were being used in this election, perhaps the Liberals would cooperate, after the election, in forming a government and passing policy with the NDP. Or they might strike a deal with the Greens, who would win anywhere from 7 to 14 seats, depending on their vote total, rather than zero. Under the current system, the Liberals will rule alone in spite of their having only 43% (or so) of the vote. Nonetheless, the referendum’s chance are considered a long shot.
The MMP proposal may not even make it over 50%. To get to 60% is hard. After all, one former FPTP jurisdiction, New Zealand, has MMP today because a vote of more than half the voters was sufficient in its 1993 referendum. The MMP proposal would have been considered defeated if 60% had been required; the change was endorsed by “only” 54% of the voters. In British Columbia in 2005 a referendum on a different electoral reform, also proposed by a Citizens Assembly, obtained around 58%, where, as in Ontario, 60% was required. (In BC, a second referendum is scheduled on the proposal.) Meanwhile, most governments in New Zealand under FPTP, as well as in Ontario and BC have been single-party majorities based on well under half of the vote–and sometimes on less than 40%.
It is perhaps surprising that a jurisdiction such as Ontario in which the ruling party usually is endorsed by well under half the voters, and where there are important parties other than the top two, would not be “ripe” for some form of proportional representation, such as MMP. However, Ontario is not exactly the most likely case for an electoral reform process to have emerged in the first place. It has had none of the serious anomalies–such as a party with the second most votes winning a majority of seats–as New Zealand had for two elections in a row (1978 and 1981), or as British Columbia had (1996).
With its multiparty politics, it has had some erratic results under FPTP, but nothing out of the ordinary. The graph below shows the patterns over recent decades.
This graph–as with others I have shown here in the block on the “seat-vote equation”–shows, in the lower segment, the deviation of the second largest party (in seats) from what it would be expected to have won, for the given votes for the parties and the size of the assembly and the number of total votes cast. On that lower (dark green) trend line, we see the identity of the second largest party. The trend line in the upper part of the graph shows how close elections have been.
The one really noteworthy–and perhaps “anomalous” election–was over twenty years ago. In 1985, the party with the most votes was the Liberals, with 37.9%, but the Conservatives, who had 37.0%, won the most seats. The Conservatives did not, however, win a majority. They won 52 of 125 seats, and the Liberals were actually able to form a minority government, with the support in parliament of the third party, the New Democrats. Then, in 1987, the Liberals called an early election and won a very large majority: 95 of 130 seats, on 47.3% of the vote.
As can be seen by the trend line in the lower portion of the graph, the electoral system has been somewhat biased against the second largest party–except in 1987, when that party was the NDP. In most elections before 2003, the second largest party was the Liberals, and they have won fewer seats than the second party would have been expected to have won (given the vote shares of the parties, the number of seats at stake, and the number of votes cast).
However, the bias has not been great, and the anomaly (if it was one) of 1985 was a long time ago. It is somewhat surprising that the Liberals actually promised prior to the 2003 election to convene a Citizens Assembly, and that they then went ahead with it. Now we are at the decision point. Will Ontario voters agree that MMP would be an improvement, or do they like the status quo electoral system in which they will most likely reelect their current government on 43% of the vote?
The Globe and Mail has a rather odd editorial. It almost seems to think the electoral reform is a good idea, but says to vote against it, partly because it claims the idea has been given short shrift in the general-election campaign. It suggests, rather strangely, that MMM would be better. And it wishes the threshold were at 5% instead of 3%.
The Conservatives won the last election, in 2003, handily. Those 34 seats represent more than 70% of the seats, which were won on a solid majority of the votes: 58.7%.
Despite the 2003 outcome, the electoral system (FPTP, of course) is actually biased against them. How can an electoral system be “biased” against a party that has more than two thirds of the seats? Consider that in a “normal” FPTP system, with such a small assembly, and two leading parties at almost 59% and only 33% of the votes, respectively, we might expect the leading party to have around 86% of the seats. That would be 41 seats, or seven more than the party actually won. If we value strong oppositions, we might consider the actual, biased, outcome a lot better than the “expected” one. The twelve seats the Liberals won in 2003 almost gives the opposition something resembling a caucus, whereas the seven they would have been expected to win would hardly deserve to be called opposition caucus (though it actually would not be close to the most decimated opposition in even recent Canadian provincial electoral history).
Obviously, with one party so dominant and the other party retaining significant representation in parliament, the electoral system would not be expected to be a political issue in the province. And indeed it is not, as far as I know. Nonetheless, as the graph below shows, the bias against the Conservative party–or in favor of the Liberals–is systemic and ongoing.
Click the image to open a larger version in a new window.
This graph, as with others I have shown here in the block on the “seat-vote equation” shows, in the lower segment, the deviation of the second largest party (in seats) from what it would be expected to have won, for the given votes for the parties and the size of the assembly and the number of total votes cast. On that lower (dark green) trend line, we see the identity of the second largest party. Since at least 1989, every time the Conservative party has come in second in votes, its seat share has fallen below expectation (the horizontal line at zero). When the Liberals fell to second place in 2003, the party was significantly over-represented (as discussed above).
Why this has not been a political issue–that is, why Newfoundland and Labrador does not have a significant electoral-reform movement–is apparent in the upper part of the graph. This portion indicates how close the election is, in votes. The 1989 election actually shows the vote differential as negative, because it is indicating the vote difference between the party with the most seats and the party that came in second in seats. In other words, the 1989 election was a plurality reversal: The Conservatives were second in seats despite having the most votes. The votes split in 1989 was 47.50% to 47.05%, but the Liberals won 31 seats to only 21 for the Conservatives.
So, while the bias against the Conservative party is not currently politically significant–the party is enjoying a large majority in spite of it, and will probably continue to do so after today’s election–it has significant political consequences in 1989. A plurality of voters that year actually voted to retain the Conservative government then in power, but the electoral system produced a “spurious alternation” to the Liberals. It may not have seemed spurious at the time (at least to those who are not Conservative partisans), as the Conservatives were actually big vote gainers, compared to 1985 (when they had only 36.6%, compared to the Liberals’ 48.4%). Nonetheless, the opposition failed to win the plurality that one presumably expects in order for an incumbent government to be voted out of office.
After the 1989 anomaly, the Liberals were returned to power in the next three elections, and, as the graph above shows, there was not a close election among the three.
The bias in the Newfoundland and Labrador electoral system is not an issue now, but if it continues in future elections, and if one of those is very close, this province’s electoral system is a good candidate for producing another anomaly.
I still do not know how the Angels won 94 games during the regular season. How they lost three straight in the playoffs is a bit less puzzling. It really does help to hit the ball once in a while, something they did shockingly well during the season, but just could not muster against a great Red Sox pitching staff.
The results of Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine are almost final. It looks like the two erstwhile Orange partners, President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), will have enough seats to reconstitute their coalition, should they be able to conclude an agreement on policy and office spoils.
As was the case in the previous elections of March, 2006, the winner of the plurality of the vote was the Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych, the man whom Yushchenko defeated in the 2004 “Orange Revolution” re-run of the presidential election that initially had Yanukovych declared, fraudulently, the winner.
However, that is all he has won–the most votes and seats. The Ukrainian constitution gives no advantage in the government-formation process to the largest party (if it has less than 50% of the seats). It also gives no advantage in government-formation to the president. Rather, a majority coalition must be negotiated among parties in parliament summing to more than half the seats, which then presents its candidate for prime minister to the president (who must appoint that candidate).
After the 2006 elections, it was not possible for BYuT and Our Ukraine to form a majority without another party. It was initially expected that the two parties, plus the Socialists, would form a three-party majority coalition. However, the Socialists ultimately opted to form a government with Regions, thus making Yanukovych the prime minister. This government was unstable, racked with charges of corruption and vote-buying, and ultimately was dissolved, paving the way for these early elections.
The big winner is Tymoshenko, whose party gained a whopping eight and a half percentage points, compared with 2006. The Socialists appear to have fallen below the 3% threshold, barely.
Here are the votes percentages and some other facts about the result, with the 2007 number first and the 2006 number and change from 2006 in parentheses.
Votes cast for parties below 3% threshold: 11.4 (22.3)
Lists below the 3% threshold: 15 (40)
Lists with more than 1%, but less than 3%: 2 (6)
I do not have a turnout figure, but we can surmise from Our Ukraine’s raw votes and the fact that as a percentage of the total these did not change, that turnout was down only a little bit. (The Our Ukraine votes were just under 3.3 million in 2007 and just over 3.5 million in 2006.)
Seat estimates are not provided by the Election Commission yet, but the system is one of pure national proportional representation for all parties that cross the 3% threshold. As noted above, the percentage of votes cast on parties that failed to clear the threshold was about half in 2007 what it was in 2006, partly because so few small parties bothered to run this time.
Applying the percentages of each threshold-crossing party to the 88.6% of votes that were “effective” (i.e. not wasted on parties that missed the threshold), we get estimated seat totals as follows:
These results are updated based on 99.99% of returns processed, as reported at the Election Commission website on 5 October. (I have not updated vote totals above; there is only a negligible shift, but it appears enough to turn one seat from BYuT to Regions.)
If those results hold, then the two Orange partners would have 228, or 50.7% of the 450 seats in parliament, two more than needed to constitute a majority. An election can hardly get closer than that! It now appears almost certain that the Socialists will not have representation. Their votes stand at 2.86%.1
It is worth emphasizing again that the parliamentary result will not be decisive for government formation. Two (or possibly more) parties will have to negotiate to appoint a prime minister and cabinet. Of course, Tymoshenko will insist on not only the prime ministership but probably more than a two-thirds majority of the cabinet posts (her party’s proportional contribution to the majority), whereas Yushchenko might try to keep the door open to renewing the coalition with Yanukovych (which would also be a majority), if for no other reason than to keep Tymoshenko from demanding more than he is willing to concede. The president’s party may be small, at 14%, but the presidency remains a powerful institution and, more importantly, his party is in a pivotal position in parliament. The negotiations could go on for a while, but right now, things are looking Orange again in Ukraine.
Click on the country name in the “Planted in” line above to see previous entries on Ukraine.
The following is text from the original when the Socialists still appeared to have a small chance of crossing the threshold. And if the Socialists yet manage to cross the threshold on a final count, BYuT and Our Ukraine would fall below 50%. It is worth noting that the Bloc of Lytvyn is led by the former parliamentary speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, who facilitated the negotiations in 2004 that led to the re-run of that year’s presidential election. He would be a potential (though not necessarily reliable) alternative coalition partner should the Socialists’ crossing of the threshold turn out to prevent BYuT and Our Ukraine from having a majority, or should the two main Orange parties not want to take their chances on such a narrow majority coalition. [↩]
Well, here we are. It is October, and the postseason officially begins tomorrow. But it will be hard for anything in the month ahead to top that “overhang game” that finally officially ended the regular season last night. Wow, what a thriller! It was the first of the seven one-game tiebreakers in baseball history to go to extra innings.1 And not just any old routine extra-inning game was it. Thirteen innings, with the teams combining for five runs in that last inning. It is a good thing that Trevor Hoffman has built up a lot of credibility with Padres fans over a great career, or he’d be run out of town for twice in three games squandering leads that would have clinched the wild card for San Diego.
Congratulations to the Rockies, who now head to Philadelphia. The two teams that came back from oblivion in late September now play each other. It is a shame that they can’t play for the NL pennant. Instead, one of them will take on one of two dubiously deserving teams for the honor: The Diamondbacks, who were outscored by twenty runs over the season and thus “should be” below .500 rather than owning the league’s best record, or the Cubs, who own only the sixth best record in the league and struggled to hold off a mediocre Brewers team.2
As for the AL and its four winners of 94 or more games, I wish I could be more optimistic about the Angels’ chances in a series starting in Boston, where their (and, this year, arguably the league’s) best pitcher has really struggled.
And I am still scratching my head over how the Indians could have won 96 games.
Before the advent of divisional play in 1969, the NL (but not the AL) broke ties for the pennant with a best-of-three series. The Dodgers won a 12-inning game in a tiebreaker series against the Braves to win the pennant in 1959, but it was game two and thus they would have another chance had they lost. These tiebreakers, while still rare, have become somewhat more common recently, in part because there are now multiple postseason berths, instead of one per league. I am still bummed about the lack of a 3-way or 4-way tie thus far. Some year… [↩]
The Cubs even led the Cardinals, then 69-69, by a mere game on 7 September. [↩]
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