Mongolia held its legislative assembly elections this past weekend. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party–the former Communist party–was reelected, evidently with 41 of the 76 seats. While Mongolia also has an elected presidency with some significant powers, the composition of the cabinet is determined entirely by the parliamentary majority (at least by my reading of the constitution).1 In any event, the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party also holds the presidency currently.2
It is not clear what the electoral system was for this election. Here I shall quote from a useful “seed” sent this orchard’s way by Wilf Day:
The Mongolian ballot looks interesting. They have changed back to a multi-member district system, but which one?
The new 1992 constitution provided for 76 members of parliament to be elected by block vote (plurality vote) in 26 electoral districts. The ruling ex-communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) party won a 70-member landslide in 1992. In January 1996, parliament amended the election law, such that all the 76 members of parliament were elected by plurality vote in single seat constituencies. The opposition alliance took power in the 1996 election with 50 seats. However, in 1997 the MPRP transformed itself into a social democratic party, and in 2000 the MPRP won a landslide victory: 72 of the 76 seats. In 2004 the close outcome — no party had a majority of the vote nor of the seats –resulted in a grand coalition which lasted less than two years, replaced in mid-term by an MPRP government with a very narrow majority. With this history, a new electoral system was overdue. A total of 76 new parliament members are being elected from 26 electoral districts throughout the country. The draft law provided for closed party lists on a proportional representation basis with a 5 percent threshold. But is that what they did?
It is indeed unclear. The ballot image at the first link Wilf provides is well worth a look, but I certainly can’t infer the electoral system from it. Nor is the accompanying text particularly illuminating:
This election is the first time a new voting system has been implemented. The new system is a rather complicated districtional system. In elections until now every constituency elected one member of parliament. The new system consists of considerably less constituencies but adds the novelty of several seats available in every one of them. The new ballots thus require voters to circle 3 or 4 candidates depending on the seats available.
As Wilf correctly noted above, multi-seat districts are not a novelty in Mongolia, though the news item is correct that recent elections have been held under single-seat districts.
The news item continues:
The new system poses challenges on every level. First voters are not yet used to circling multiple candidates and especially the number of candidates can cause some confusion. Reports have come in of people circling either too little or too many candidates. In the latter case the vote becomes invalid. The second challenge comes from the counting of the votes. The old fashioned method of piling up votes for the different candidates doesn’t work anymore since one ballot is casting votes for several candidates.
Here I am assuming that the “old fashioned method of piling up votes” actually refers to that prior system of multi-seat plurality (MNTV, or what others call “block vote”). The indicated contrast of this system to that one does imply that it is now a list system of some sort (and the outcome–a majority, but not a sweeping one, likewise suggests PR). However, the reference to voters’ “circling multiple candidates,” and especially to a ballot’s being invalid if insufficient names are circled, does rather sound more like the old MNTV.
As was the case yesterday on Iraq’s provincial electoral law, I am unable to tease out the needed details from available accounts. Two points, however, are evident: It must not be either “closed list where voters can vote only for political parties as a whole” and it also must not be the “single constituency,” as reported in the second article that Wilf refers to.
As with the last case Wilf reminded me of, Mongolia does not fit neatly into F&V orchard blocks. Is the country in East Asia? Central Asia? Yes.3
That is, it is of the “premier-presidential” variant of semi-presidentialism. However, somewhat atypically for premier-presidential systems, the presidency has a veto that requires a two-thirds majority to override. In fact, the veto appears to have a partial (line-item) provision, which I am not aware of existing otherwise outside of some US states, various Latin American countries, and the Philippines. [↩]
It won a majority in both the 2001 and 2005 presidential elections. [↩]
Though it certainly is not SW Asia or Oceania. [↩]
An electoral law for Iraq’s planned provincial elections is still not complete. No surprise there. And the elections may be delayed again. No surprise there, either.1
Whenever they might get around to holding these contests, what will the electoral system be? Various sources are hinting at open lists or SNTV (though the latter now appears unlikely), but the news and other information is typically sketchy about critical details.
Unlike the closed lists used in 2005, which helped big parties, a consensus is emerging for a hybrid system. Voters will be able to elect independents and rather than selecting an entire party list, they will have to mark each preferred candidate so the top names have no advantage.
I suppose one could call open-list PR a hybrid of sorts, though it not usually so classified.2 I’m not sure how the closed-list system used at the national elections is supposed to have “helped big parties,” especially given the calculation of of seat distribution at the national level with no threshold other than that set by the (very large) magnitude of allocation (275). The remark about marking “each preferred candidate” implies more than one candidate-preference vote per voter, a feature of some open-list systems, but not a very common feature.3
Then there is historiae.org, a site maintained by Reidar Visser, research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs:
A hybrid system (voters can choose between a list and an individual candidate) has been adopted, but the counting rules are clearly biased towards bigger entities. Whereas the votes for a party list will count towards a cumulative total score which will enable the party to maximise its share of all remaining seats available in a given province, votes cast for an individual representative will apparently become â€œredundantâ€ once a candidate has received enough votes to win a seat for him/herself. This would be a major disincentive against voting for an individual instead of a standard list, because there is a very real chance that the individual vote can be wasted â€“ incidentally, a kind of voter behaviour against which an injunction by top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani was issued back in 2005.
I am really not sure what Visser is getting at here. Again, there is the reference to “hybrid,” and I might read into this that it’s an open list (as other sources imply). But the claim–implicitly contrary to that in The Guardian‘s contrast with the national elections–that it would favor large parties (“entities”) is unclear to me, inasmuch as what is described is the intraparty allocation, rather than the interparty. Of course, open-list PR is PR (for the given district magnitude) and it does indeed thus imply that votes for candidates accrue to the list as a whole (i.e. “pool” on the interparty dimension) but stay only with the candidate for whom cast (i.e. are nontransferable on the intraparty dimension). The suggestion that such rules would be a disincentive to candidate-voting is not born out by any experience with actual open lists that I know of. But then maybe I am misunderstanding and the proposed law is for something other than OLPR. If only we knew. But then again, if these elections never happen, it is rather moot, isn’t it?
One of the big stumbling blocks is the powder keg that is Kirkuk. [↩]
The (weak) case for its being properly labeled a “hybrid” would be that it is list PR on the interparty dimension–where closed vs. open vs. flexible is irrelevant anyway–but SNTV on the intraparty dimension. [↩]
Italy’s former OLPR allowed multiple preference votes till the early 1990s, and Peru’s allows two, I believe. Most others (Brazil, Chile, Finland, etc.) allow only one. [↩]
There is now also a proposal being floated to repeat the congressional elections of the same year (2006) that Uribe was reelected.
My comment to Steven’s post is replanted (in part) here, thought it probably makes more sense to someone reading both of Steven’s posts on the subject.
There is no good reason to repeat the congressional elections, even if one accepts Uribeâ€™s premise (which I most certainly do not). Their constitutionality is not at issue. They were held under the reformed electoral law, which was completely separate from the presidential-reelection measure.
The bigger issue here is that the Supreme Court really made a terrible decision, politically (I have no opinion on its validity constitutionally/legally). Some things really canâ€™t be admissible after the fact. The time for bringing charges against an amendment permitting reelection is before said reelection goes forward. Now it is a done deal, and the Court saying otherwise is simply handing a popular president a political issue to hammer the opposition with further. Pretty much totally contradictory (politically) to the (constitutional) issue the Court was judging.
A further question I have here is whether the Supreme Court even had authority to address this issue, by which I mean the constitutionality of the reelection amendment itself, not the bribery case against a legislator who voted for it. Colombia has a Constitutional Court, which is an entirely separate institution2 to address such institutional matters.
Also on this see Greg Weeks (entries Friday and Saturday, as well as a comment at the above-linked post by Taylor) and boz.
In part because I am trying to finish up a paper on–guess what–the 2006 Colombian elections! [↩]
And like most such bodies around the world, less isolated from the political process than is the Supreme Court. The logic behind the model of a Constitutional Court (or council or tribunal) is that, because it necessarily impinges directly on “political” concerns, it should be on a somewhat shorter leash, but with mixed representation from the various political branches. [↩]
Via an e-mail from Californians for Electoral Reform:
Thanks to you, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) has taken a quantum leap! Due to the unanimous outpouring of support at yesterday’s City Hall hearing, the Los Angeles City Council could decide to put IRV on the November 2008 ballot TOMORROW (Fri).
And on the off chance that anyone reading this could attend, CFER adds:
…We are Item 11 on the agenda – which means that IRV will be heard anytime between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm (unfortunately, we can’t predict the exact time).
Other CFER news, from a separate message regarding the organization’s recent annual meeting:
We gave Wilma Rule Memorial Awards1 to State Senator Tom McClintock for being the only Republican in the legislature to vote for AB 1294,2 and to Max Rexroad, conservative Yolo county supervisor, who wrote an editorial in support of AB 1294 in the California FlashReport, an influential Republican web site.
Wilma Rule was a scholar and activist for electoral reform, with whom I coauthored a paper several years ago. She authored several important early pieces on the impact of electoral systems on representation of women. [↩]
McClintock was the Republican office-holder who entered the 2003 replacement election concurrent with then-Governor Gray Davis’s recall, to oppose Arnold Schwarzenegger, and won around 12% of the vote. And, yes, Arnold would have won even with IRV, despite his winning slightly under 50% in the actual plurality contest. Too bad McClintock did not make electoral reform an issue when he had a statewide forum. Instead, repealing the “car tax” is about all he talked about. Still, kudos to him for being a Republican for democracy. [↩]
“The draft envisages 60 percent of seats elected by geographical constituencies and 40 percent by proportional representation . . . Smaller political parties want a larger percentage of proportional representation seats because that will favour them.”
General elections are scheduled to take place by July 2009 concurrently on six levels: for the presidencies of the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS); for the National Assembly and the South Sudan Legislative Assembly; and for the governorships and state legislatures in all 25 states. But July is the rainy season. Elections in February would allow a potential runoff election before the beginning of the rainy season in April. Six months before the targeted election date, parties must meet to review the feasibility of holding elections: that’s August.
Sudan has two main parties, but the Government of National Unity is composed of 14 parties and political Organizations, and the National Interim Assembly is composed of 450 seats representing 17 parties and political organizations (20% from the smaller parties).
The article that Wilf linked to also notes that “The [electoral] law is one of many which must be changed to adhere to a new democratic constitution drafted after a 2005 north-south peace deal which ended Africa’s longest civil war.”
It is less obvious to me, from the information Wilf provides, that the proposal is for MMP rather than MMM.
Lest one be too confident in this all turning out well, the article also notes:
This week the southern parliament approved the first steps towards establishing an air force for the separate southern army. The northern army on Thursday expressed concern at the move saying it could cause problems.
“There’s nothing in the deal saying they have the right to create an air force,” the northern army spokesman said.
That seems less than promising.
And, yes, I am aware that not all of Sudan is “Sub-Saharan.” However, the regional classifications adopted here at F&V sort of leave Sudan unclassified. North Africa goes under “Euro-Mediterranean.” But Sudan is certainly more Sub-Saharan than Mediterranean. I suppose I will really have a classificatory challenge some day if I have anything to say about elections in Western Sahara.
In its first election after the end of the Communist one-party state, Bulgaria used MMM. Since 1991, however, the system has been a fairly standard two-tier closed-list PR system.1 Sean Hanley notes a proposal by the president2 that seems as though it might be MMP.
From the text of the proposal:
Regaining the voters’ trust through a reform of the election system:
* Introduction of a proportional election system with a majority element:
* Maintaining the proportional character of the election system in order to guarantee the leading political will and responsibility of the political Party.
* Majority candidates would run in big single mandate election regions to contribute to their public recognition and allowing effective control over vote purchasing.
The first point could mean a lot of things, but the second one implies continuing national-level compensation and thus MMP, rather than either MMM or anything like Italy’s majoritarian list system. That third point implies a system with relatively few single-seat districts. The point about “control over vote purchasing” through large electorates suggests that the president has read The Efficient Secret. 3
It will be interesting to see how (if) this develops.
Dr. Sean has much more about other aspects of the proposal at his Diary.
I had the pleasure of being able to spend about 10 days in beautiful Sofia as a consultant on the development of this law in the summer of 1991. The photo on the right sidebar under “VOTES” is from that fascinating trip. [↩]
Bulgaria is a semi-presidential system, with a directly elected, but quite weak, presidency. [↩]
However, districts as big as the proposal hints at may be counterproductive, “public recognition” of individuals being perhaps contrary to “efficiency”. [↩]
The LA Times/Bloomberg poll out today [PDF] shows Barack Obama leading John McCain by 15 percentage points, 48â€“33. Ralph Nader is at 4%, Bob Barr at 3%, “other candidate”1 2%, and “Don’t know” 10%.
Kudos to the LA Times/Bloomberg for actually asking about multiple candidates. For the record, their question–asked prior to the multicandidate one–about just Obama and McCain put Obama up by 12 points (49â€“37, with 4% other and 10% don’t know).
A Newsweek poll a few days ago had Obama up on McCain, 51â€“36, but it does not appear that any other candidates were asked about in that poll.
The question prompt (p. 12 of the linked PDF document) asks about “the Green Party candidate,” unnamed, and immediately after mentioning Nader (which could lead some hearing it to assume the phrase was an appositive modifying Ralph Nader). Cynthia McKinney is nearly certain to be the Green Party candidate, but the nomination is not official till the second weekend of July. In any event, around 5 to 6% between Nader and McKinney is probably about right. [↩]
Every year, the ‘Weeping Santa Rosa’ is one of our most eagerly awaited fruits. And this is a certainly one of the most ornamental edibles, as well–year round. In flavor, this variety is quite close to the familiar Santa Rosa, but certainly not identical. Perhaps even better.
The weeping feature also comes in handy for harvesting. This tree is now about ten feet tall–I don’t prune it much, because the growth habit is one of the tree’s most desirable characteristics. The weeping branches allow one to tug on the lower part of a branch that originates near the top of the tree, thus pulling the fruit down to a more reachable level. Very handy!
(The tree is pictured about a week ago, before ripening. When ripe, the fruit is a very dark bluish purple.)
Just a little bit ago, at 4:59 p.m. Ladera Frutal Daylight Time (23:59 UTC), was the summer solstice. And it felt like it, too, as minutes before, the temperature peaked at 102. (That’s about 39 for those of you using the more sensible Celsius scale, though, really, “102″ just sounds more impressive.)
Yes, summer is here. We are celebrating with the ripening of the first ‘Tropic Snow’ peaches of the season–a rare kind of snow that can stand up to this heat.
Sean Hanley has a brief but interesting post up about the Green parties of Estonia and the Czech Republic (and elsewhere) and why the Western sociological frame of ‘post-materialism’ may be inaccurate for understanding the Green parties farther east. It may even be inaccurate, he hints, for understanding those of the west. Perhaps they are better understood as the coming together of “environmental and/or agrarian interest with the demand for â€˜new politicsâ€™ of the centre.” He suggests that the brand has become a trusted one for these rather diverse groups choosing to ally under the ‘green’ label–”a kind of franchise taken up by a rather diverse group of political business partners. Not necessarily totally meaningless, but not really indicative of a close â€˜party familyâ€™ relationship.”
I suspect Sean is very much on to something here.
He also notes some internal problems–predictably–caused by the Green’s coalition with the right in the Czech Republic.
Steven Taylor has created a Flickr group pool with images of ballots (mostly Colombia for now). I suspect F&V has readers who will be interested in these images. Even better, perhaps F&V has readers with their own images to upload to the pool. (F&V has an orchardist who will contribute some in the near future.)
But how could there not have been a contract to carry a possible playoff on TV? After being on NBC over the weekend, the first several holes of today’s US Open playoff were on ESPN. And the rest was on… nowhere on TV.1 I am sure I was not the only one who scrambled to get an espn360 account working. It was worth the scramble.
I was not sure whom to root for. The “45-year-old with a creaky back” resonated with me. But so did Woods, with the recent knee surgery. But if ever there was a sporting event in which no clear rooting interest was necessary to enjoy it–no, be enthralled by it–this was it.
(Uh oh, that first link was AP (via ESPN). I sure hope I did not quote too much.)
The Royal Rosa, the first of our ten or so apricot varieties to ripen, is now at its peak. It probably ranks near the bottom of our varieties in flavor, which is only to say that while the others range from outstanding to truly phenomenal, the Royal Rosa is merely excellent.1 Of course, any minor deficiencies the variety has in flavor it at least compensates for by being so far out front of the top varieties in its harvest season.
The crop this year is exceptionally heavy. In the background, you can see the Mesch Mesch Amrah “black apricot” which is really a natural plumcot (Prunus x dasycarpa). We just harvested the first of this tree’s typically light crop in recent days. Another plumcot (not pictured), the Flavorella, also is now ripening–and also has its typically light crop, but by far its best in five years since planting.2
Just as the Royal Rosa is reaching its peak (it was much heavier than this a few days ago), we have begun receiving the first fruits of the Flavor Delight aprium.3 The aprium tastes a lot like a really richly flavored apricot, and looks like a really large one. Its crop is heavy, and typically so. It is one of the most reliable apricot-family varieties we have, right up there with Newcastle, which will begin ripening about the time the apriums are done.
Summer is here, in fruiting terms.
Katy is the only one I have that I would consider getting rid of; if you like subacid apricots, you might like Katy. Ours did not set fruit this spring–no loss, but surprising given the high chill of the past winer and the heavy set on almost all of our other stone fruits. [↩]
There has been some talk, including here at F&V, that maybe this variety needs an apricot such as Goldkist–a variety I do not have here–for cross-pollination. Maybe so, but it did set just under a dozen fruit this year. (It is always a heavy bloomer.) That’s not many fruits, but we’ll gladly take them! As for Goldkist, it never fruited for me well in Carlsbad by the Sea, despite its being claimed as one of the lowest-chill varieties that is alleged to be best for the coast. I always had better crops there on Newcastle and often on Royal/Blenheim. Goldkist is a good tasting variety, though I would not put it in my top 7. [↩]
Also a plum-apricot cross, but like a pluot, one that does not occur naturally. Unlike a pluot, it leans more in flavor and appearance towards its apricot lineage. And for anyone who may be wondering, it is not GMO; I would have none of that in my organic orchard or, knowingly, in my food supply! It is human-assisted hybridization, but done by Zaiger Gentics the (relatively) old fashioned way: controlled transfer of pollen from one variety to another–in this case, multiple varieties over several generations (thus known as a complex hybrid). The Flavorella is also hybridized under controlled conditions, rather than naturally occurring like the Mesch Mesch Amrah. [↩]
Greg Weeks follows up on some recent discussion of a potential third term for Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Greg cites a recent statement by Luis Carlos Villegas, the head of an important industrial group. Vilegas recently said that, while he believes Uribe is the best president Colombia has ever had, his staying in power would be “dangerous” for the country.
Greg asks whether Uribe, who is at approximately the halfway point of his second consecutive four-year term, will listen.
My thoughts, based on my own observations of Colombian politics, follow.
It is not as though it is only his choice. He has not one, but several parties in his coalition, which is thus loaded with ambitious politicians who have a national profile.1 They can be certain to make life difficult for him if he pushes for a third term. And, as Greg’s post makes clear, there are important allies outside of congress and the parties who are ready to urge him against pursuing another term.
Uribe would need a constitutional amendment, and I do not think he could get it through congress and the constitutional court (as he did, rather easily, for the previous change to allow two consecutive terms).
So, how would he get it? Call a para-constitutional referendum (he has no such clear authority)? That would be a coup, in effect, and I do not believe he would have sufficient support in any institution to pull that off.2 He may have the public support, but I suspect it would fall apart as soon as the inevitable clash of institutions began. I also suspect he knows that, cares about his legacy as “the best president Colombia has ever had,” and will not push the matter too hard (or have surrogates push it too hard).
Maybe I am overstating the institutionalization of Colombian democracy. But I do not think so.
Aided greatly by the single national senate district in use since the current constitution of 1991 came into effect. That is, some of these ambitious politicians have run national campaigns in several recent cycles. Others are governors, as was Uribe before winning the presidency in 2002. [↩]
Previous cases of presidents in Latin America who have obtained major constitutional change over the heads of congress–ChÃ¡vez, Fujimori and Menem, as well as the Barco and Gaviria administrations in Colombia in 1990-91 (where immediate reelection of an incumbent was not an issue)–have actually had crucial support in either the courts or the military, if not in congress. Moreover, all of those cases were considerably less institutionalized than Colombia is today, or so I would be inclined to argue. As I have stated before, Uribe’s successful quest for a constitutional change allowing a second term has much more in common with Brazil under Cardoso than with the other examples cited here. His potential quest for a third term would look more like Menem’s, which evaporated in the absence of institutional support and turned out to be a huge embarrassment for him. I do not think Uribe would get even as far as Menem did, let alone as far as Fujimori did. It should be remembered, that despite far lower institutionalization (it could be argued) in Peru, Fujimori could not pull it off. Uribe may be more popular now and in 2010 than Fujimori was at the turn of the century, but that would be balanced by the greater institutionalization of Colombian democracy and the greater diversity of the president’s supporting coalition. [↩]
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