For the second time since the Orange Revolution of late 2004, a coalition cabinet consisting of the parties of President Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, who led these coalitions as Prime Minister, has been formally dissolved.
While US media coverage has focused on divisions with respect to the recent Russia-Georgia conflict as underlying the split, the real cause is deeper still: the parties remain suspicious of one another and those suspicions, there all along, would only get worse as the 2009 presidential elections approach.
The one manner in which the Russia-Georgia conflict probably has realigned internal Ukrainian politics is that it is now harder to imagine the sort of coalition that initially followed the 2006 parliamentary elections: one between defeated 2004 presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine.
Given that a government coalition must be proposed by a majority in parliament–there is no provision for the President to appoint a government or for the largest party to form a minority government tolerated if not actively supported by other parties–what options are left? A Tymoshenko-Yanukovych coalition? It is the only formula not yet tried.
Such a coalition does not seem to me as odd as it might at first appear. Tymoshenko has positioned herself–and often been perceived in the West–as the more radical firebrand relative to the more technocratic Yushchenko (who, as a former Central Bank president, is hardly the sort of politician one would ever have imagined having his name chanted by thousands of protesters!). Nonetheless, her electoral coalition spans east and west Ukraine to a greater degree than either of the other two, and the Russia-Georgia conflict revealed her to be somewhat more accommodating towards the government of the Russian Federation than Yushchenko would like to be.
A coalition between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych would be an odd one institutionally, however, in that it would exclude the party of a presidency that remains quite powerful, the legislative initiative in government-formation notwithstanding. One of the greatest powers of the presidency, however, would be neutralized by the Yulia-Regions coalition: a veto that required a two-thirds vote to override. The parties of Tymoshenko and Yanukovych together have over 70% of the seats.
And then, there is always the possibility of constitutional changes that would make the presidency weaker, and the first-linked news item notes that such a possibility actually was one of the triggers of the coalition collapse:
Our Ukraine quit after denouncing a vote to cut presidential powers in which Tymoshenko joined Yanukovich and his party.
Provisions of the constitution make calling an early parliamentary election difficult (though the president managed to find a way a year ago). Besides, new elections would be unlikely to do anything but reconfirm the tripartite division among these three major parties.
In other words, somehow the three titans of post-Orange Revolution Ukraine are going to have to muddle through. Or at least that is how it looks from here. While I follow Ukraine in the sense that I have visited and care a lot about the country, and use it as a case in some of my research and teaching, I do not claim to be an expert. Maybe someone who follows the country more closely can offer some other scenarios, but muddling through is about all I see. (Unless, of course, the Yulia-Regions coalition moves up the presidential election. Is that possible? Just a thought.)
Strikingly, the Senate projection (posted along with projections of the popular and electoral votes at FiveThirtyEight) has not budged. Democrats are still projected to have 55 or 56 seats2
If McCain does win this, it will be the classic divided-government election: each party being reelected to the institution it currently controls.3 That would be really surprising, given the low public esteem in both the current Republican president and Democratic Congress. It would also be striking in that McCain’s surge appears to be driven significantly by the base-excitation of the VP candidate selection, yet that base excitement is apparently not lifting Senate candidates of the party.
However, Josh still shows Obama narrowly ahead, at least where it counts the most: in the electoral college. [↩]
Not counting the two independents, at least one of whom can be counted on to remain in the Dem caucus. Pollster.com currently has the state of the race as 53 Dem, 41 Rep, and 4 toss-up. [↩]
With the caveat that these projections do not include the House of Representatives. [↩]
It would be interesting if there were such informal cooperation. The only announced case of cooperation, as noted in the quoted post, is the non-compete agreement the leaders’ districts (neither of which is likely to be competitive, anyway). Moreover, it was with allegations of a common front that the Conservatives tried to keep the Green leader out of the debates.
First of all, congratulations to Francisco ‘K-Rod’ Rodriguez on breaking the record for saves in a single season!
Now, can we stop talking and hearing about whether he is being overworked? Whether he will be sharp for October? Whether whatever team signs the sure-to-be big-bucks free agent this offseason will be getting damaged goods?
Fifty eight saves is a lot, but it tells us little about how hard he is being worked. He has appeared in 70 games, or just under half the team’s 148 games through Saturday.
But he has thrown 64 innings all year. That’s right: He is not even averaging an inning per appearance. He has not entered a game before the 9th all season.
Not that this is grossly atypical for the MODERN CLOSER. Jonathan Papelbon is practically a workhorse with his 63 innings in 61 games. Joe Nathan has exactly 61 innings in 61 games. Mariano Rivera–who really is the definition of closing greatness–has 64 innings in just 57 games.
I don’t pretend to know whether it is harder on a pitcher to pitch more innings in fewer games, or fewer innings in more games. But don’t let a gaudy saves total lure you into thinking that K-Rod is being worked extra hard.
The Costa Rican party won 9% of the votes and 6 seats in 2006. Its presidential candidate, Otto Guevara Guth, won 8.4% of the vote. Its legislative result, though not its presidential showing, was similar in 2002.
The New Zealand party has never come close to breaking the 5% threshold (or winning a single-seat district).
Of course, various “liberal” parties in Europe could be considered part of the broader family, though none is as stridently liberal on both social and economic dimensions as a sincere “libertarian” might like.1
Presumably that’s got something to do with their being regular government partners or major third parties, rather than fringe entities like the others noted above. Many of them are far bigger than the Green parties in their respective countries, even while the Greens and Libertarians in the US both are marginalized. [↩]
Small detail: He already has a running mate, Wayne Root, who is actually the theme of the PoliBlog post linked above. [↩]
Though that’s much more a reaction. But then perhaps Paul’s is, too, albeit of a rather different kind? [↩]
In a reversal of an earlier decision, the Green Party leader will be allowed into the debates in advance of Canada’s 14 October election.
This is a good decision for democracy. The party is polling in the 8â€“10% range and while it may not win any seats beyond the one it currently holds (thanks to a switch by a member not elected under its label), under plurality rules even far smaller parties can have an impact. Besides, it is a national party, without question.
If only this could serve as an example for the debates to the south…
Best record in the league remains at stake. This is really important, despite the Angels excellent road record (43-28), because each of the teams that could be a first-round opponent has an outstanding home record (Rays 53-21, Red Sox 49-20). Both are under .500 on the road.2 As of now, the Angels lead for best record is 1 over Tampa Bay and 2.5 over Boston.
One celebration down, three more to work on. And home-field advantage all the way would surely help.
Oh, and it’s OK that the Angels clinched while beating a mediocre team: the seventh-ranked team in a 14-team league, mired in 4th place in their division. Yes, that mediocre team. And thanks to the Mariners for the assist against the Rangers today.
Or, rather, a product that contains some of the same ingredients as beer. There seems to be some champagne-like product involved, as well. [↩]
Amazingly, the Angels are the only team in the league over .500 on the road (the Yankees are the only one at .500), as of today. In the NL the best road record is just 39-32 (Brewers). Not a good year for the road teams. Except for the Angels, that is. [↩]
On Saturday the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) granted its waiver to the accord negotiated between India and the USA.
The accord and the waiver themselves are much too far outside my areas of expertise for me to have any substantive comment. What interests me here is the implications for Indian domestic politics. The Congress-led minority cabinet recently lost its formal outside support partner, the Left alliance, over precisely the government’s decision to move forward with the “operationalization” of the controversial accord.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said: “It is a great victory for India and of Indian diplomacy, and the credit for it goes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. It will go a long way to bridge the gap between demand and supply of power in the country. The 45-member NSG has accepted India’s credibility of being a serious non-proliferation nuclear power.”
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari:
“It’s a historic moment for the country. The win at NSG is beyond the Congress, beyond the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) and is something fundamental to India’s growth. Despite being a non-NPT signatory, India has been able to persuade the world to give a nuclear waiver. It’s a red letter day for India.”
Meanwhile, the leader of one of the smaller parties in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) with which Congress has dealt since the departure of the Left, the Samajwadi Party, is “elated” at the news:
“…This is a befitting reply to the trio of Comrade Karat (Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary), Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party chief) and Advanji (Bharatiya Janata Party senior leader). We have come out with flying colours.”
The Left is, of course, somewhat less elated, with one of its leaders calling the waiver “an injustice done to the generation next to come” and accusing the government of “submitting our authority before the United States.”
Leaders of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the government of compromising national interests. BJP vice-president and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha:
“The Congress is saying that this will end India’s nuclear isolation. [...] the whole world recognises India as a nuclear state and it is because of our scientists, so there is nothing called isolation. India has walked into a non-proliferation trap. It has lost its right to conduct nuclear tests forever. NSG guidelines are tougher than the Hyde Act [the law on the US end of the accord].”
As if it were not obvious, an election is expected in the coming months in India.
From the linked items, the result in Western Australia was pretty bad for Labor: a â€“6% swing in votes and a loss of 9 seats (apparently) in the 56-seat legislature. But Liberal and National together appear to have won just 26 seats (22 for Liberals). There are three “others.” The Green party won 11.5% of the votes (a 4% increase) but no seats. Given Australia’s preferential voting (in single-seat districts), I imagine that transferred Green votes helped Labor retain more seats than it could have on first preferences alone.1
The link on the possible double dissolution is to John Quiggin’s blog, with lots of fascinating detail that I highly recommend. A small flavor on the political calculations:
These incentives2 are amplified by the fact that much of the Opposition, along with virtually all of the rightwing commentariat, has convinced itself that the whole problem of global warming is a fraud, fabricated by grant-grubbing scientists, fanatical environmentalists, and sinister forces in the United Nations.
The independents, Nick Xenophon and Steven Fielding have not been reflexively oppositional. But they have shown no presumption in favor of legislation proposed by the government. They will support or oppose bills based on their own judgement and the horsetrading that has traditionally been the stock in trade of independent Senators.
And on the policy problem:
To make the [proposed emissions-trading] scheme work, the government needs the support of business. But the response of the Business Council Australia to the Green Paper has been reminiscent of the worst days of the tariff debate. Every possible loser must be compensated, it seems, while the fact that large sectors of the economy will benefit has been ignored.
And Prof. Quiggin’s expectations of the outcome of new elections:
The most likely outcome would be the re-election of the government, perhaps with a reduced majority in the House of Representatives, but with a stronger position in the Senate. Labor would be able to pass legislation with the support of the Greens and perhaps also with the votes of independents. Against this is the fact that every election gives voters a chance to change their minds.
Thanks for the updates, Alan, and it seems there will be more news soon.
If someone wants to parse the district-level preference flows, please knock yourself out for the good of the virtual orchard! [↩]
I.e., incentives for the government to call new elections for both houses over the environmental program that was a centerpiece of its campaign just last year. [↩]
Update: We can now remove the question mark. It’s on.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper, heading a minority Conservative government since the January, 2006, election, will seek an election before the end of this year. It could come as soon as 14 October.
It is routine for minority governments in Canada to call early elections when they think they can become majority governments. In fact, past minority governments have averaged about a year and half in office, and most of them have then won reelection with a majority. However, Harper had promised a move to fixed-election dates. As the Vancouver Sun notes:
Bill C-16, which amended the Elections Act, set October 2009 as the next federal election date. But it does contain a clause that gives the Governor General the right to dissolve Parliament if the government does not retain its confidence.
So, will the Governor General refuse? If so, would Harper then fake a loss of confidence?
Assuming Canada has an election coming soon, the bigger question is, will Harper and his party win a majority? The current cabinet has the second smallest parliamentary share of any cabinet of 187 first-past-the-post elections I studied for a recent book chapter. Perhaps surprisingly, its small parliamentary basis is why it has lasted so long: it had a lot of convincing to do to have a real shot at a majority. The party would need to pick up 28 seats (out of 308). Even if it wound up short, it could be worth it for the party to go for it while the polls are relatively favorable.
boz notes that Argentine Vice President Cobos has announced that he will return to the Radical Civic Union (UCR) Party.
While this is a remarkable turn of events that I would not have anticipated, my position remains what I articulated after his high-profile vote in the Senate against a president-supported bill: I am surprised that major dust-ups between presidents and vice presidents are not more common.
And this is quite a dust-up.
boz notes that “The official statement from the government simply reminded Cobos that he has institutional duties.” Well, sure, but those institutional duties say nothing about what, if any, party he has to serve. Presidents and vice presidents may be nominated by parties, but they are institutionally autonomous from them (and each other!).
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