It would appear that, whatever the slow-to-come-in official results say, Mugabe and his party suffered a defeat of major proportions in Saturday’s presidential, legislative, and local elections. From The Independent:
At least nine of Mr Mugabe’s politburo, his inner circle, were out of a job according to official results posted at polling stations in their own constituencies.
As evidence emerged of what appeared to be a landslide for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission â€“ Mugabe placemen all â€“ were hiding out in the capital, refusing to release results of the presidential poll.
What nobody could stop were independently verified, lawfully reported parliamentary and senate results as the count finished at each of the 9,000 polling stations nationwide. And the early results were stunning.
Provisional findings, leaked to The Independent last night by a senior source at the electoral commission, indicated that Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change had taken 191 of 210 parliamentary seats, with the remainder split between the ruling Zanu-PF and the smaller MDC faction backing the ruling party defector Simba Makoni.
Were those results to be reflected in the presidential contest, as expected, it would deliver a resounding first round victory to Mr Tsvangirai,1 a former union leader, and bring down the curtain on the only president Zimbabwe has ever known.
My emphasis. For the moment at least, that there was an election is forgotten, at least if one were to rely on state media.
Throughout the day, state television ignored the most important election since independence in 1980, broadcasting a bizarre mixture of cartoons, church sermons and 1970s football matches.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) released a press statement this afternoon with the results of its Sample Based Observation… [that] show opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC in the lead with 49.4% of the vote, coming out ahead of 28-year ruler Robert Mugabe with 41.8%. Simba Makoni, a recent challenger within Mugabeâ€™s Zanu-PF party, comes in a distant third with 8.2%.
The presidency is elected by two-round majority, though legislative seats are elected by first past the post. [↩]
The Dodgers didn’t even bother with a left fielder. Torre went with a five-man infield. Francona had Bobby Kielty in left but when Rafael Furcal led with a double down the line, the ball was fielded in the corner by shortstop Julio Lugo. It really had the feel of backyard Wiffle ball. Kevin Youkilis dropped a 300-foot homer over the Screen Monster in the third. In the fourth, Jacoby Ellsbury was caught stealing, 2-8, center fielder Andruw Jones taking the throw. Pretty sure we had the largest crowd wave in baseball history, including players on both benches.
I had been thinking that this year’s spring was late.1 Apparently not. I was just checking records of last year’s spring via this blog and saw that the cherry trees looked about the same in 2007 as they do right now–about three weeks earlier. They were in bloom in the middle of April in 2007.
Now, with almost a week of March, 2008, remaining, the Royal Rainier and Stella were already at their peak earlier in the past week. Meanwhile the Craig’s Crimson and Bing have their first few blooms.
Many other trees have indeed bloomed later this year.
The winter just ended certainly resulted in more chill overall, notwithstanding that in 2008 we had nothing remotely like the highly concentrated cold snap of January, 2007. The best evidence of greater chill is that this year, the bloom dates of different fruit trees are more closely aligned than last year. That should be good news for pollination.
The Canadian White Blenheim apricot has its best bloom by far.
It has bloomed before, but usually staggering a bit, and before last year, it tended to bloom only after being almost fully leafed out–very unusual for a stone fruit. It has not fruited since planting (2003). Immediately behind the white apricot is the Flavorella plumcot, always one of the first to bloom and here seen almost finished blooming and leafing out. In past years it has fruited only sporadically, despite good blooms. It evidently needs cross-pollination, despite what the catalog said when I bought it. This year, with so many more trees in bloom simultaneously, things are looking up. There is clearly fruit that has set, though I have been growing fruit long enough to know that an apparent set in March is no guarantee of fruit to eat come summer.
There is even hope for the Hunza apricot. It has a few blooms, and appears to have set at least one fruit. I would not count on its holding, however.
Even in this year of significant chill, the Hunza’s delayed leafing (note the still-bare long whip branch off to the right) suggests it really did not get the chill it needs.
Spring is by now very well sprung!
Measured by when fruit trees are blooming, that is. The equinox always arrives on schedule. [↩]
From NZ Stuff,1 comes an interesting item on list-ranking and regionalization in advance of the 2008 New Zealand election. I will quote the full text here, with some points emphasized, and then with some brief comments appended.
Labour’s Maori caucus chairman, Dave Hereora, has been guided toward the exit door by Labour Party hierarchy after being bumped down the party’s northern region list.
The snub is contained in his 11th placing on the party’s northern region list, a copy of which has been leaked to The Dominion Post.
The list placement exercise is part of Labour’s strategy of showing the door before the election to MPs and candidates perceived to be underperforming.
Mr Hereora’s placement could make him pay the penalty for Labour’s low polling against the Maori Party in the seven Maori electorates.
Recent TVNZ Marae programme poll results have the Maori Party poised to win all seven Maori seats in this year’s election.
Labour president Mike Williams and Prime Minister Helen Clark presided over the northern region list placement meeting in Auckland last weekend.
Labour splits the country into five regions, the northern region spanning from the Far North to Waikato.
A quarter of Labour’s existing line-up is expected to be eased, prodded and kicked out the door before the general election.
In turn, this proposal (now cleared) is a replacement of the state’s former “blanket primary” that was (along with California’s) invalidated some years ago by the federal supreme court.
A blanket primary ensures that each officially recognized party has its leading candidate appear in the general election, but permits voters to choose a candidate of one party in one office and another in another office. The parties did not like that, and sued (successfully) to stop it.
The new “Louisiana-style” system effectively eliminates party primaries altogether. The top two candidates from the first round, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the runoff. As Benjamin Lukoff puts it (in the linked item):
could the Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians â€” who banded together to sink the blanket primary and unsuccessfully challenge the new system â€” decide that at least under IRV2 their candidates are certain to appear on the November ballot? After all, “top two” will likely result in Republicans being absent from the fall ballot in Seattle, Democrats likewise in Wenatchee, and Libertarians, Greens, and the rest of them nowhere at all.
Indeed, and that is why this top-two system is a very bad ‘reform.’ It is, in fact, a democratic retrogression.
Mike Gravel was my favorite pre-candidate as the 2008 US presidential race got started1 The longer this campaign goes on, the more I realize why I liked him so much: For an advocate of a multiparty system, there can be no better candidate than one who:
(1) Endorses a candidate of one party, while (2) suggesting he will run for the nomination of another, while (3) still officially a candidate for the nomination of yet another.2
The first two points refer to a remark he made to Reason magazine on 18 March:
â€œIâ€™m more libertarian than Ron Paulâ€¦ I just endorsed Jesse Johnson to give him a leg up over Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader.â€ The obvious question: Since Gravel considers himself a libertarian, would he run for the LP nomination? Yes.
And, honestly, if Mike Gravel actually had enough influence to keep McKinney or Nader from getting the Green nomination, Bob Barr5 from getting the Libertarian nomination, while having debated earlier in the season on stage with the Democratic pre-candidates, I would say that he had performed quite a service to our multiparty system (such as it is).6
Update: While my title is somewhat flippant, “fusion” is actually not a bad idea at all, and evidently it is something Gravel has in mind. From a comment at Third Party Watch:
The Senator would like to become the â€˜fusionâ€™ candidate in this election
â€”J. Skyler McKinley
National Multimedia Coordinator
Mike Gravel for President 2008
Apparently there was a Greenâ€“Libertarian fusion candidate for US Senate in Maryland in 2006 (Kevin Zeese). I do not know if that is feasible elsewhere, but I certainly like the concept. While there are many differences between Greens and Libertarians as parties, the basic idea–to unite all non-authoritarians and non-imperialists in a “big tent” (not that it would be all that big, I realize; Zeese got 1.5%) is sensible until such time as we have proportional representation and ranked-choice voting and other rules changes that make a multiparty system more feasible.
I doubt this is feasible under the ballot-access laws in most states, however, though that is not my specialty by any means.
To the extent that he could be said to have been in the race, that is. [↩]
Now that he has stated on the campaign website that he is joining the LP, I assume he has formally withdrawn as a Democratic candidate (as if any Democrats would notice). However, a little time searching for such a statement turned up nothing. I would add that there is no longer a map on his campaign’s front page showing the states in which he is on the Democratic Party primary ballot. Maybe he was not on the ballot in any of the remaining states, anyway. [↩]
Presumably he will have to withdraw his candidacy for the Democratic nomination now. [↩]
Whenever I think of Gravel as Green, I think of all those mobile home park with â€œlawnsâ€ of, well, green gravel. [↩]
It is not clear how a “primary” could be established to provide for five distinct parties to select a common presidential candidate (that’s the gist of it, for you non-Spanish readers). However, I did previously suggest that the various parties backing the reelection of President Uribe were going to have to find a way both to differentiate themselves (because they never were and won’t become “un solo partido”), while at the same time jockeying for position to succeed Uribe.
Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat (and pro-Clinton delegate) of Florida, speaking today before his state’s legislature:
A year ago, you passed a bill to move Florida’s presidential primary to an early date on the national election calendar. Your thinking was to give our large and diverse state â€“ a microcosm of America – more of a say in the selection of the presidential nominees.
And we all know what happened: Both national parties decided to punish Florida, because their rules reserved early presidential contests to a handful of other states.
Having failed to get an agreement on a mail-in re-vote, he is now proposing that his party:
divvy up the equivalent of half of Florida’s delegates from the Jan. 29 results. This is allowed by the Democratic rules and was done by the GOP.1
But he is thinking bigger:
If nothing else, this election has provided further evidence that our system is broken…
Last fall, I filed legislation in the U.S. Senate requiring that no vote for federal office be cast on a touch-screen voting machine starting in 2012. I also joined the senior senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, to propose a system of six rotating primaries from March to June in each presidential election year.
And very soon I will file a broader-based election-reform bill.
This new legislation will abolish the Electoral College and give citizens direct election of their president by popular vote. Additionally, six, rotating interregional primaries2 will give large and small states a fair say in the nomination process. The legislation will establish early voting in every state. It will eliminate machines that donâ€™t produce a voting paper trail. It will allow every qualified voter in every state to cast an absentee ballot, if they want. And it will give grants to states that develop mail-in balloting and secure Internet voting.
Naturally, that was me emphasizing the most important part. It has been a while since a Senator has raised this issue. It is about time.
Yet the more promising path than a bill in Congress (which, for the electoral college, would have to be a constitutional amendment) is one on which he missed an opportunity today: advocating that this own state’s legislature join the National Popular Vote compact.
This seems like a reasonable idea to me, even as an Obama supporter, and even coming from a Clinton delegate. But what about Michigan? There, unlike Florida, Obama (and let’s not forget Edwards) were not on the ballot, and the turnout was minuscule. [↩]
So, the rules can be changed in the midst of the nominating contest, after all.
The Democratic Party on Monday approved Puerto Rico’s proposal to scrap its caucus and hold a presidential primary on June 1.
A primary will give more voters a chance to take part in the nominating process, said Puerto Rico Democratic Chairman Roberto Prats…
Puerto Rico will have 55 delegates at stake in its primary, and will award them proportionally.
Fifty five delegates is one more than South Carolina and two fewer than Iowa. I wonder how the number is chosen, given that the formula in states (and the District of Columbia) takes into account the state’s tendency to vote Democratic in the general election. Puerto Rico, of course, does not vote in general elections for President.
So, after about 95% of the elected delegates have been allocated, a territory that is not technically part of the United States gets to change its rules so as to give more of its voters a theoretical chance of determining a presidential candidate that they would have no right to vote for.
Someone who is interested in polling methodology or the trends (or their absence) in the epic Obama-Clinton struggle would surely enjoy Mark Blumenthal’s post today. I will not spoil the ending to a good story.
I am not sure why Word Press keeps turning the comments off on this post. It is not me doing it. However, the post continues to attract massive amounts of spam, but not spam that shows up in the comment moderation queue. Rather, Word Press is appending it to the post text itself (in my editor, not, fortunately, on the visible page). The Intertubes are very mysterious devices.
The major parties unveiled the lineups of their proportional representation candidates, Monday. On its list, the governing Grand National Party (GNP) placed activists, civic group leaders and labor unionists, who have more chance of becoming lawmakers, in an effort to attract working-class voters.
The main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), meanwhile, sought to give an economy-savvy image by selecting female financier Lee Sung-nam as its No. 1 proportional representation candidate. Lee served as a member of the Bank of Korea’s Monetary Policy Committee.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon ranked fourth in the liberal party’s list of 54 candidates to be elected under the proportional representation system.
Of the total 299 lawmakers, 54 will be picked under the proportional representation system in the April 9 National Assembly elections. The remaining 245 legislators will be elected through direct voting.
Please, nominal or district, not direct. All are directly elected.1
Back to the story, with further emphasis on parties’ attention to the personal vote of candidates on closed party lists:
“We recruited experts and notable figures. But I feel sorry that we could not invite so many great people because of the limited number of seats,” UNP Co-Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu told reporters.
The important consideration here is how many safe lists ranks the party has to go around. I assume “UNP” is the same as “UDP” as the name for the major opposition party is given in most sources as United New Democratic Party or UNDP. That party won 26% of the vote in December’s presidential election. If it could repeat that vote for its party lists, that would be about 14 seats (not counting any it might win in the plurality tier). Given the Co-Chairman’s remarks, the party must have a lot of “great people” to choose from.
Now on the importance of the list-head:
Political parties usually present their visions and policies through the selection of their No. 1 proportional representation candidate.
And below the top rank (for the UNDP):
Chief Director Park Eun-soo of the Korea Employment Promotion Agency for the Disabled was chosen as the No. 2 candidate.
Other candidates include Choi Moon-soon, the former CEO of the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation; former Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Park Hong-soo; and Professor Kim Geun-sik of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
Major parties have made massive cuts of incumbent lawmakers in the selection of candidates to run in the National Assembly elections on April 9 to solicit more support.2
The governing Grand National Party (GNP) announced Thursday the elimination of 43.5 percent of incumbent lawmakers in its selection of candidates in the Gyeongsang provinces, the party’s stronghold. As a result, 25 legislators lost in the internal competition.
In a similar move, the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has replaced 30 percent of its legislators with new faces in a bid to regain voter confidence in the elections.
Of the 25 incumbents who lost in the GNP nominations, 12 are said to be close aides of President Lee Myung-bak, while 10 are pro-Park Geun-hye. Park lost in last year’s GNP primaries by a razor-thin margin to Lee who was elected president on the party’s ticket.
South Korea uses a mixed-member majoritarian system, with separate votes for nominal-tier candidate (in 245 single-seat districts decided by plurality) and party list (for the 54 national seats). The election is 9 April.
“Indirect” should be reserved for cases in which the voters only vote for electors or delegates who then vote for the actual office-holders. [↩]
Barnett Rubin has written a masterpiece, weaving together many strands of the “nightmare” of history and racism, spurred by Obama’s speech and DailyKos, reflecting on pogroms and Palestine and Apartheid.
See Pew’s latest report on party identification in the USA. It contains not only great news for those who want to see the Republican party punished electorally, but also lots of terrific graphics at national and state level, with trends as far back as 2000.
The bottom line is that Democrats and “leaners” among self-identified nonpartisans now amount to 51% of the electorate. Republicans are only 27%, plus another 10% leaning.
Some of this is safe Democratic states getting more Democratic (39-21 compared to 38-28 in 2004), but by no means all of it. The “swing states” are also seeing a bigger Democratic advantage (38-27, compared to 35-33 in 2004) and one that is nearly identical to the national 2-party identification breakdown. Even the safe Republican states no longer are, as a group (33-33 now, though even in 2004 they were only 36-33). In Texas, the GOP lead in identification is now down to 33-30, and in North Carolina and Virginia, Democrats are now ahead (39-26 (!) and 32-28, respectively).
Obviously, “independents” can make a big difference to election outcomes, and many of the graphs offer a reminder that even in “safe” GOP states, their lead in declared party ID has not always been substantial. But all these trends, and others at the report, look awfully good for Democrats.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that the number of registered Republicans in California has dropped by 207,000 since October, 2006. The New Hampshire GOP has only $64,000 in cash on hand, 40% of what Democrats have. Politico says, “state Republican parties are struggling through troubled times, suffering from internal strife, poor fundraising, onerous debt, scandal or voting trends that are conspiring to relegate the local branches of the party to near-irrelevance.” Deservedly so.
Ed Reingold and Nachum Dershowitz, co-authors of the books Calendrical Calculations and Calendrical Tabulations, determined how often in the period between 1600 and 2400 [C.E.] Good Friday, Purim, Narouz and the Eid would occur in the same week. The answer is nine times in 800 years. Then they tackled the odds that they would converge on a two-day period. And the total is … only once: tomorrow. And that’s not even counting Magha Puja and Small Holi.
Neat article (dated 19 March, on Pope Gregory’s solar calendar). (Thanks to Jewschool for the tip.)
I do not know enough about Taiwanese politics to answer my own question. But consider the following:
1. The presidential victory by DPP leader Chen Shui-Bian in 2000, with 39.3% of the vote, was made possible, in part, by a split in the KMT.1
2. Presidents who seek reelection usually win, and by reasonably decisive margins,2 but Chen was reelected in 2004 by a what I believe is the world record for narrow majority in a two-person presidential election.3
3. Chen governed through much of his two-term tenure in the face of a KMT-dominated opposition legislative majority.4
4. The KMT ally in opposing Chen, People First Party founder James Soong, has now begun talks to merge his party back into the KMT whose nomination he had sought and lost in 2000.
And now the KMT has the presidency (won with 58% of the vote) and 75% of the seats in the legislature. At least for now, it looks hegemonic again, and to my outside-observer’s eye, the Chen presidency looks almost “fluky.” However, if the opposition can avoid splits under new leadership (Chen having resigned after the defeat in the legislative elections), its voter base is certainly strong enough that it could challenge for power again in the future.
We could go a step further: His career as a national figure was launched by a previous vote split that had allowed him to win the Taipei mayoralty. [↩]
And those relative few who lose generally do so decisively. [↩]
Complete with a controversial assassination attempt that opponents claimed was staged to generate sympathy. [↩]
Which reminds me that Taiwan, 2004, is another case of an absence of honeymoon effect. Chen was reelected by a razor-thin majority in March of that year, while his opposition won control of the assembly by its own thin majority in December. Of course, as I noted earlier, the honeymoon effect would be expected to be stronger after a change election than a president’s reelection. But the DPP did not have much of a “honeymoon” in 2001, either (36.6% of the vote); however, I would not call an election 21 months into a 4-year term a honeymoon, anyway. [↩]
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