A coalition consisting of every party in the Thai parliament except for the Democrats has been announced. Details at the earlier election planting. (Please place any further comments or updates there.)
Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
Perspectives on electoral systems, constitutional design, and policy around the world, based primarily on my research interests.
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21 January 2008
A coalition consisting of every party in the Thai parliament except for the Democrats has been announced. Details at the earlier election planting. (Please place any further comments or updates there.)
20 January 2008
Today was the first round of Seribia’s presidential election. According to election monitors, as reported by Reuters, nationalist (fascist,1 really) candidate Tomislav Nikolic has 39.4% of the vote and incumbent Boris Tadic has 35.4%.
The Reuters headline proclaims, “Nationalist wins first round in Serb vote.” Given that it was widely expected that there would be a runoff and that there are two slots in said runoff, actually both of them have “won” the first round.
The same two candidates “won” the first round of the 2004 election, and in the same order of finish, though both had lower vote shares then: Nikolic, 30.1% and Tadic, 27.3%. The third candidate in 2004, Bogoljub Karic, had 19.3%. In the runoff, Tadic won fairly easily, 54.4 – 45.6.
Serbia is a premier-presidential system with a relatively weak presidency. In the parliamentary elections of 2007, Nikolic’s Serbian Radical Party also won a plurality of votes (28.6%) and seats (81/250). However, the much more important result of the parliamentary elections was that pro-Western parties allied to Tadic won a large majority, and together form the current government.
The first1 US government to come to power in a coup d’etat has now completed just over 87.5% of its “constitutional” tenure!
John McCain–big loser of the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary–share of the vote:
John McCain–big winner of the 2008 South Carolina Republican primary– share of the vote:
What a difference fragmentation (and the absence of ranked-choice voting) makes!
From the exit poll results posted at CNN, it appears that John McCain’s margin in South Carolina may be attributable to independents (and the fact that South Carolina is among those states where voting in the party’s primary does not require advance registration with the party). Given that a small margin in votes for McCain resulted in a 3.8:1 ratio in delegates, the mere 18% of voters in the primary who were independents may have swung the result. The exit poll shows McCain beating Huckabee, 42-25, among these independents. The two are essentially tied among Republicans (80% of participants), with Huckabee at 32% and McCain at 31%. Democrats accounted for only 2% of the vote, and so the breakout by candidate is not reported.
It is interesting to compare this to 2000. Then, independents were 30% of the turnout and went 60-34 for McCain over Bush. Democrats were 9% of the turnout and went for McCain, 79-18. Republicans, 61% of the turnout, went for Bush, 69-26.
So, again as I noted for Michigan, South Carolina independents still favor McCain, but at a much lower rate than in 2000.
As I did earlier for the Republicans, I am going to base my progress report on the race for the Democratic nomination on actual delegates. By that measure, either there is no front-runner, or Obama is the front-runner, depending on how much stock you want to put in 92 delegates allocated by votes so far, when over 4,000 will eventually be seated on the convention floor (including unelected “super-delegates”).
Out of those 92 allocated in primaries or caucuses so far, Obama has 38, Clinton 36, and Edwards 18.
The party allocates its delegates–or rather those delegates that bear any connection at all to votes cast–by what amounts to a rather odd second-place-favoring process. Consider that in Iowa the candidate with the most caucus support, by an 8-point margin, won only one more delegate than the candidate with the third highest caucus support, who in turn won one more delegate than the candidate who came in second among caucusers. Then in New Hampshire, the two leading candidates tied in delegates (which is not so bad, really, when you consider that they were separated by only about two percentage points in the vote1). And then Saturday in Nevada, Obama apparently won one more delegate than Clinton, even though the latter won a majority of the caucus support, and by a 6-point margin.
Unlike what I did for the Republicans, I can’t report votes totals, because the candidates’ totals include votes cast for some candidates in a largish state where no delegates were allocated and include contests in Nevada and Iowa where no actual votes are reported2. Additionally, it is worth noting that CNN indicates a whopping lead for Clinton (213) over Obama (123) and Edwards (52) when unelected delegates are included.3
It is often said that the Democratic Party uses proportional representation, but clearly it does not, given the bonus obtained so far by second-place candidates in three states. Moreover, it tolerates states voting for a restricted field of candidates and (supposedly) allocating no delegates. And it has a large number of unelected delegates who could overturn the popular-vote result in a close race.4
Clearly the Democratic Party is anything but democratic in the way it allocates nominating delegates.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (1)
If one goes by the cable news and other media, one “knows” that John McCain is the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Maybe he is even inevitable. One would also “know” that Mitt Romney is in trouble, and that Mike Huckabee might even be finished.
When one looks at delegates—or even quaint indicators like votes–one gets a different picture.
Including South Carolina and Nevada, the results so far are shown below, in the following format: candidate initials, votes%, delegates1, delegate%:
JM, 30.4, 31, 28.7
MH, 20.2, 25, 23.2
FT, 07.2, 05, 04.6
RP, 06.4, 06, 05.6
RG, 03.6, 01, 00.9
DH, 00.4, 00, 00.0
TT, 00.04, 0, 00.0
AK, 00.01, 0, 00.0
oth, 00.07, 0, 00.0
Notice how over-represented Romney is in delegates (37% on 32% of votes). McCain was seriously under-represented before South Carolina, when he had only 14.3% of the delegates, despite 30.1% of votes cast up to that point. Now he is almost proportionally represented.
The effective number of candidates by votes so far remains high, at 4.09, and the contests on Saturday increased this fragmentation considerably (it was 3.79 before Saturday).
The effective number of candidates by delegates is quite a bit lower than the figure for votes–as we would expect from the party’s use of mostly majoritarian allocation rules–but it is still high: 3.59. Once again, the contests in Nevada and South Carolina increased this fragmentation, as before Saturday the effective number of candidates by delegates was 3.20.
The vagaries and unpredictability of majoritarian delegate allocation are very much on display here. Huckabee remains slightly over-represented in delegates, with over 23%, despite being a clear third in votes with just over 20%. He is, however, much less over-represented today than he was before Saturday, as he won only five delegates in South Carolina to McCain’s 19, despite only a three percentage point deficit in votes.2 McCain, on the other hand, won nearly four fifths of the state’s delegates, whereas in Michigan he won only 5 of 30, despite his 30% of the vote there having been almost double the number of votes as was his 33% in South Carolina. How this disproportional allocation will play out in the many largish states voting on 5 February3 is anyone’s guess at this point, but given a field of three-plus candidates it is a bit premature to declare a front-runner. Especially when no candidate has even one third of votes cast thus far.
The media conventional wisdom–and, the analysis of polling trends by Charles Franklin–may be right about McCain making a big comeback that likely will result in his nomination. And South Carolina certainly helped him, even if he did win less than a third of the votes there. But this is not a field that is winnowing, and McCain has yet to catch Romney in either votes or delegates. Much of Romney’s lead is, of course, attributable to his original home state so far being the only relatively large state to have voted. Nonetheless, unlike the media, I define a front-runner as the one who is in the lead. And that is Mitt Romney.
I discuss the Democrats in a separate planting.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
18 January 2008
John McCain again did far better in Michigan among those who voted in the Republican presidential primary despite not identifying as Republican than among those who call themselves Republicans.1
From the media exit poll, as reported at the Detroit Free Press:
This pattern is not nearly as stark as it was in 2000:
82-10, Democrats (17)
29-66, Republicans (48)
67-26, other (35)
The differences in these breakdowns jump out at one more than the similarities. However, there is one very big near-constant here: McCain did no better among Michigan Republicans in 2008 than he did in 2000. What allowed him to come in a respectable second overall in 2008 was that there was not a single core-Republican consensus candidate against McCain this time. What prevented him from “winning” was that the turnout this time was two-thirds Republican instead of not even half so.2 A less important factor in this outcome–but one with significant (and for the GOP, not encouraging) implications for November is that he is only half as popular among non-Republicans–even those who voted in the party’s primary–now as he was in 2000.3
While I tend to agree with the analysis by Charles Franklin that McCain is making a remarkable comeback that just might get him a nomination that looked impossible three months ago, it remains an against-the-odds struggle for McCain to win the nomination of a party without appealing to core partisans.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (2)
15 January 2008
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Peace and war
Excerpted and re-posted from two plantings of previous years.
Seventy nine years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., was born.
Spend some time today, or any day, on the drmartinlutherkingjr.com website, listening to and reading some of his inspiring speeches of peace and unity.
As great a speech as his famous “I have a dream” is, another has always inspired me even more: “I’ve Been To The Mountain Top.” In this speech he says, in part:
And, of course:
The very next day, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated.
I want to thank Tom Grant for the link to the site that contains text and audio clips of King’s speeches. And I want to second Tom’s own words of remembrance:
And how many Americans are aware of Dr. King’s words, largely suppressed by our media, against imperialism and militarism?
–Address to the Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam,
Riverside Church, New York City April 4*, 1967
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
CNN/LA Times/Politico statewide poll, the Democratic race for the California primary is:
Kucinich and Gravel are shown as zero, given the media’s assumption that we readers can’t process decimal points.1 The sample is 384 “likely” Democratic voters, and the margin of error is 5 percentage points. So, Clinton’s lead is well outside the M.O.E.
In the other major party primary, based on 255 “likely Republican voters,” it is:
Margin of error is 6 points. Now, that’s an interesting result! Hope it holds. It would be fun to see a patchwork quilt of delegates for four or five different candidates.2
Interesting that the poll also finds that 62% of Democrats say they are sure of their choice, but 61% of Republicans say that they could change their mind!
Now, how to process that Dem poll in decision making… (more…)
14 January 2008
Indeed. And now maybe I will watch it.
While I happen to be a fan of Kucinich’s platform, this is not, for me, about Dennis Kucinich. (I think Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter lean heavily in the loon direction, but they should be in every GOP debate as long as their campaigns are active.) It is about letting voters hear more than the mainstream views. If we can’t debate views from outside the narrow mainstream while choosing the national executive, then when can we?
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Coalition governance; POLITICS/POLICY; Presidential & Parliamentary Systems
There was an item on National Public Radio this afternoon about California turning to the Netherlands for flood-control expertise. The basic premise was that, whereas the Netherlands has known how to deal with the problem of rising floodwaters throughout its history, California is just getting started in preparing for the rising sea levels stemming from global warming, which threaten the low lands of the state’s Delta region.
In discussing the challenges in California of reconciling conflicting interests and the myriad government agencies–state and federal–that have a stake in this policy, we hear Jeffrey Mount, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, say that:
Of course, there are few policies that do not produce winners and losers. In the Netherlands, on the other hand:
But the invocation of the Netherlands as a contrasting case to California’s over-reliance on “consensus” is an odd one to any of us who are familiar with the literature on comparative democracy. The Netherlands, after all, is one of the paradigmatic cases of “consociational” and “consensus” democracy, both concepts pioneered by my colleague, Arend Lijphart (who happens to be Dutch).
So, if the Dutch are really so much better at making tough choices on this (or any) issue that we wimpy Californians, the problem must not lie in consensus decision-making, per se, but somewhere else.
The Netherlands is, of course, a parliamentary democracy with one of the world’s most proportional electoral systems: 150 seats elected nationwide, with a 0.67% threshold to win a seat. Those are the institutional bases of its broad multiparty governments, and its consensus politics. It has numerous parties that span the ideological spectrum, and each of them is quite centralized and disciplined. Currently, the largest party in the Dutch parliament has only 27.3% of the seats. The government is a coalition of that party, another with 22% and a third that has 4% of the seats in parliament. Consensus government–all three parties are “veto players”–but they have a bare majority in a parliament that has minimal checks on its authority to make legislations.1
California, on the other hand, a fairly prototypical presidential system. In fact, it really is a presidential system on steroids–not because its “president” (the Governor) is so powerful, but because, as is the nature of presidential democracy, power is fragmented and shared among several institutions. Given federalism, it is further fragmented and shared between state and federal governments. Legislators owe relatively little to party programs for their election, and much to their ability to cater to moneyed interests or organized blocs of voters in their narrow (and almost always noncompetitive) districts. Both California and the US federal structure do not merely require consensus, they offer a worst of both worlds: Multiple access points for organized interests with narrow demands, and super-majority decision-making through various two-thirds vote requirements and, in state government, the recourse to ballot initiatives by interest groups unhappy with what they are getting from the legislature and executive.
Don’t blame consensus per se–as if imposition by some chimerical benevolent central authority were the answer to all our tough problems. Rather, blame the specific institutions that fragment representation among multiple veto gates–that is, no single representative institution (like the Dutch party-centered parliament) being able to make hammer out policy compromises acceptable to the majority without being subject to vetoes by other, separate, institutions. Blame the absence of collective responsibility, the failure of the representation process to aggregate broad interests, the institutionalized short-sightedness of term-limited executives and legislators. Blame any number of features of our policy-making process, but not our “wimpy” seeking of consensus.
Yes, Californians could learn a lot from the Dutch. Not only about how to deal with flooding, but in how to build a policy-making process that makes consensus “for tomorrow as well.”
Propagation: Seeds & scions (23)
11 January 2008
Taiwan’s legislative elections are 12 January, with presidential elections to follow on 22 March.
The legislative elections will be the first under a new electoral system that was adopted by constitutional amendment about three years ago. Since becoming democratic in recent decades, Taiwan has been one of the rare cases of single nontransferable vote (SNTV). Not exclusively SNTV, as there has also been a list tier comprising around 18% of the total seats, but based on votes cast in the districts rather than a separate list vote. Most seats have been allocated through the rather rare SNTV, and in quite large-magnitude districts.
Much will change with Saturday’s’ vote. The nominal tier is no longer SNTV, but rather FPTP. There will now be two votes, one for local candidate and a separate one for party list. The share of the seats allocated by list PR remains small, but not as small as it was: just over one quarter (and with a 5% threshold).
Thus Taiwan is moving towards a fairly straightforward MMM system, albeit one with a strong tilt towards the nominal and majoritarian tier. It is also moving to a much smaller legislature. The body has been cut in half, to 113 seats, which will make it one of the world’s smallest legislatures, relative to population.
Yes, the notion that “efficiency” in government is best delivered when one party gets to tell everyone else what to do is a hard one to put to rest. It is worth noting here that while it has been some years since a single party had a majority in Taiwan’s legislature, most of the parties with seats in the Legislative Yuan are aggregated into one of two large pre-election blocs: The “Pan-Blue Alliance” of the KMT and People First Party, and the “Pan Green Alliance” of the Democratic Peoples Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union. The “deadlock” actually refers to divided government. The current legislature indeed has a majority, held by Pan-Blue, which won 113 of the 225 seats in December, 2004. However, the presidency is held by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), whose candidate, Chen Shui-Bian, won reelection in March, 2004, in one of the closest elections ever anywhere (50.11 to 49.89, with fewer than 30,000 votes out of 12.9 million cast separating the two). Chen won his first term–and the first for any non-KMT candidate–in 2000 with the help of a fragmented field (39.3% against two major competitors). It is the combination of a narrow DPP hold on the presidency (which is quite powerful) and the KMT’s return to power with the help of its “Blue” ally in late 2004, that has generated “deadlock.”
Of course, if the KMT wins a majority outright on Saturday, “deadlock” will continue until at least the March presidential elections–beyond if a non-KMT candidate were then to win that election.
In any event, the FT article makes an interesting claim about the impact of SSDs having replaced SNTV in the nominal tier:
Of course, this claimed effect may come as a bit of a surprise. After all, the intraparty (or intra-alliance) competition of SNTV would be expected to generate parochial and particularistic politics, and my understanding of Taiwan2 is that it indeed did so. However, there were several factors in Taiwan that seem to have made the particularism of SNTV there much less than was the case when the system was used in Japan and Colombia. For one thing, the ideological cleavage is much deeper in Taiwan. For another, the legacy of the pre-democratic KMT machine seems to have made vote division other than by the provision of rents and “pork” more feasible, and the strong brand identity of the DPP apparently has had a similar ability to command voter loyalty to specified candidates without those candidates having to give goodies for which they can claim credit. If these characterizations are accurate (and, as always, I invite those with better country knowledge to correct me), then a move to SSDs indeed could engender more parochial campaigning. But it certainly is not the direction of change we normally would expect.
Of course, the decrease of size of parliament–and, I would add, the move to SSDs–has created intraparty and intrabloc tensions:
There are sure to be several interesting academic papers to be written after the elections about how the two alliances divvied up their limited slots.
As for competition between the parties, Asia Sentinel reports:
Chen faces the same problem many a two-term president faces on the other side of the Pacific, with co-partisan legislators preferring he stay away:
On the other hand, the KMT presidential candidate in the March elections, Ma Ying-jeou, “is a popular figure, warmly welcomed by his candidates.”
This is the sort of election timing that creates what I have called a “counter-honeymoon” election: A legislative election that closely precedes a presidential election. If the KMT does well on Saturday, an end to “gridlock” once Chen leaves office looks likely.3
10 January 2008
Mitt Romney is reportedly pulling his ads from all states other than Michigan, which selects a mere 30 delegates on 15 January. He is evidently counting on fond memories of his dad’s “moderate to liberal” governorship to help the son be “the standard bearer of the Reagan Coalition.”1
Meanwhile, Fred Thompson “makes his stand” in South Carolina, a state he says is “tailor made” for grassroots campaigning. That is appropriate, because watching Fred campaign is a lot like watching grass grow.
It hardly can be a good sign for the candidates, or the party, when those seeking the right to run for a national office under the banner of a state-sponsored party pick and choose the states in which they will actually campaign. So, I can only conclude that the Republican party must not be a national party.
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