While tomorrow’s election in Iraq is for provincial councils, and while it is by open-list PR (we think), one Iraqi observer thinks the outcome may turn on voters’ evaluations of the performance of national parties. Others expect the new electoral system to give voters a chance to shake up the political class, due to the candidate-based voting.
[Sheik Fatih] Ghitaa [director of the Al Thaqalayn Center for Strategic Studies in Baghdad] said the parties are confusing voters all over the country by attaching photos of some of Iraq’s most well-recognized politicians, such as Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, instead of making a greater effort to educate them about the local candidates.
I am not so sure that this should be seen as a bad thing. Besides, the candidates are presumably undertaking their own person campaigns; educating voters about their own candidates need not be an activity undertaken by parties under open list PR. (Parties might even have good reason to stay out of the intraparty contests and just let the candidates and their campaigns sort them out.) In fact, Ghitaa suggests that there is personal campaigning going on, but does not like that either:
Ghitaa said his polling has also shown that most voters, particularly those in central and southern Iraq, are seeking personal benefits.
“They’re asking, ‘What can this candidate do for me?’ ” Ghitaa said. “We don’t see patriotic or principled behavior — just beneficial behavior, which is an unfortunate thing that’s now happening in Iraq.”
Again, this does not seem like such a terrible thing (or consistent with Ghitaa’s first concern). If democracy is going to work, voters will need to feel it works for them.
Developing the candidate-based campaign theme further, a post by Jack at Democratic Piece has two interesting quotations from a recent Financial Times article.
First, the campaign features:
colourful posters that highlight both the different faces of Iraqi society and the battle hotting up for tomorrow’s provincial elections. Alongside images of austere looking bearded men in clerical robes are headshots of women in brightly coloured veils and businessmen in western-style suits, each vying for a seat in Basra’s regional government.
For war-weary Iraqis, fed up with corruption, mismanagement, killing and kidnappings, the polls offer a glimmer of hope that a new generation of politicians may emerge, with a focus on people’s needs rather than the corrupt and sectarian politics that have dominated in the post-Saddam era.
As Jack notes, this combination of a choice of a wider range of candidates and the potential for turnover would be an anticipated result of the open-list system. Assuming it is indeed open list–something we have discussed here before (see links below). Jack also comments that, “Going by a photo of a ballot (slide number five) at Financial Times, it doesn’t look like either” open-list PR or SNTV.
I hope someone who reads Arabic might be able to help us out here. With the caveat that being able to read Arabic would be helpful, I’ll note that the pictured ballot looks like it contains only party names and symbols (plus perhaps some independent candidates). If that is right, then it can’t be SNTV, but it still could be an open list: many open-list ballots contain one area for checking a party name and another for optionally writing in the name or number of a candidate from the chosen party. Is that what this is?
Anyway, it seems to me that the possibility of voting (for parties) based on evaluations of national performance and voting for candidates who might be offering something “different” are compatible outcomes of the electoral reform. And encouraging for ongoing democratic development in the country.
See previous discussions of Iraq’s electoral law for these elections:
The general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, Janardan Dwivedi, has said that Congress will not have a “national alliance” in the upcoming general elections. Rather it will have only state-level “seat adjustments.” However, he denies that the United Progressive Alliance–the pre-electoral coalition headed by the Congress party that has governed India since 2004–is breaking up:
Of course, there is UPA. But UPA does not fight elections. It is the political parties in UPA which contest elections.
Seems we are down to semantic hair-splitting here. When one national party makes “seat adjustments” with numerous state and regional parties, by which the two parties agree not to contest single-seat district races against one another, that would appear to be a “national alliance.” And even one that fights elections.
The problem with calling it such is, for Congress, that several of its allies have ambitions to extend their current reach beyond the states where they currently have seats. Congress will not look kindly upon its alliance essentially becoming a bloc containing other “national” parties, as then it would be strengthening potential rivals rather than harnessing the local strength of its junior partners.
The Congress leader said that seat sharing will differ from state to state. “The state leadership (of Congress) will keep in view the local situation and the state level party (ally) and take a decision with the support of the AICC,” he added.
Dwivedi said, “Congress will seek votes on its own, except where it is in alliance”. In those states, where the party has entered into an alliance, it would seek the votes for its alliance partners also, the general secretary said.
Shock of shocks, Congress members want the party to maximize its own seats. However, it also needs to maximize the seats of the alliance, because it is the alliance that will form the government–if, that is, its election fight is successful.
So, yes, of course, the UPA is a national electoral alliance. Just don’t call it that.
It looks like Canadian PM Stephen Harper, staring parliamentary defeat in the eye, has made just enough concessions on the budget–or, depending on your perspective, cosmetic changes that allow Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to save face and back down from his predecessor’s commitments–that a coalition to replace the government will have been staved off.
(Any reader seeking background is encouraged to click Canada above, and read on!)
UPDATE: See the comments by Manuel for important detail and alternative scenarios!
The results of the Salvadoran legislative (and municipal and the Central American Parliament) elections are now posted at the site of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral.
The seats in the assembly are as noted earlier:
There is also a votes summary that can be downloaded (under “Otros Reportes” strangely enough, as if it’s an afterthought). As far as I can tell there is no posted national summary of votes. If one wanted to add up all the departmental votes one could confirm the final vote total for the FMLN (last reported at around 43%) and other parties. But this one does not want to.
The departmental summary is interesting, however, in that it gives the full allocation process, showing the quota, seats by quota, remainder, and seats by remainder. Once again, the PCN lives a charmed life, winning one seat in each of 11 departments, always on a remainder. The large parties use up most of their votes on quotas, leaving the PCN to win a seat even in a 3-seat district like Chalatenango where it had only 11.4% of the vote.
While the FMLN is probably not happy with its showing, it is worth remembering that if it indeed won 43% of the vote, that’s the highest total a party has obtained in any of the last five legislative elections. The only higher share since the FMLN began participating was in its first election, 1994, when ARENA scored 45% (in the election that was concurrent with the presidential election). It would also be the FMLN’s own highest total ever, by around 3 percentage points.
Somehow I forgot to note that last night was the second new moon following the winter solstice.
That makes this the Chinese New Year!
So, happy new year, wherever you may be celebrating. Of course, if you are doing so in China, you are not reading this. F&V is far too subversive to be read in the PRC. Must be all that pornography about luscious apricots!
Also, the second new moon following the winter solstice is Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat, meaning the new year for trees is two weeks from today.
No, this planting is about neither baseball (though Spring Training is almost here!) nor religion. Sorry to disappoint those who were hoping for something different.
Rather it’s a public service announcement for the world of political science blogging. Jacob Levy is hosting a blog symposium on Nancy Rosenblum’s book, On the Side of Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship.
The Prime Minister of Iceland, Geir Haarde, has resigned, paving the way for early elections. One is almost tempted to say that the government was “overthrown,” given the scale of protests over the country’s economic implosion. In fact, the protests turned violent this week, and are said to be the worst the country–which in 2007 topped the UN Human Development Index–has seen in around fifty years.
Elections will be in May, just one year two years since the election of the current parliament.
In 2005, parties that got the most votes appointed members for seats. This time, an “open ballot” will allow voters to choose individual candidates within parties.
Of course, the article–which is actually quoting a UN envoy–propagates the common ignorance of how closed-list systems, including in Iraq in 2005 work*: parties “appointing” members, as if those elected members had not been nominated to their ranked positions on lists prepared before the election.
I continue to wonder, however, if this system really is open list, or something else. For instance, some time ago I had an e-mail from someone in Iraq–someone I do not know but who seemed to know what he was talking about–who said, in part:
We’re looking at an open list system with non-transferable votes–once a candidate receives enough votes to be elected, any extras do not accrue to his or her party.
This is similar to some vague references to “hybrid” that I quoted in the original discussion, liked above.
The quote from my correspondent in Iraq could be interpreted as SNTV, rather than open lists. What sort of list system throws away votes for a candidate beyond those needed to be elected? Or perhaps it is SNTV, but with pooling of losers’ votes, but not of winner’s surplus? That would be odd, but I suppose it is possible. (I have e-mailed back and hope to get a clarification.)
UPDATE: A post from September at a blog called Abu Muqawama has a description that reads for me as precisely open-list PR. However, he contrasts this “OLPR” system with one he calls “OL,” by which he evidently means what the rest of us would call SNTV. This terminological issue appears to be the source of the confusion that implies OLPR is a hybrid of PR and something else rather than just one of the alternative forms of list PR.
* The only confirmed exception being Nepal’s recent election, apparently.
Beware the misleading presentation of preliminary results!
Yesterday I noted that the FMLN appeared to have won only 44% of seats on nearly 50% of the votes. I based this on the web page captured above. From the first few lines of the report–Departamento: TOTALES NACIONALES and Municipio: REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR–one might conclude that the page was reporting national results. Not so fast!
If one looks at the line at the bottom (which obviously I did not) one might note that the TOTAL VOTOS VALIDOS are far short of the national total reported at the top. Indeed, the votes totals by party listed here are San Salvador only.
I take small–very small–comfort from knowing that others made the same error I did. Various news accounts had said the FMLN had won about half the vote nationally, and so did a blog I often read and consider reliable.
I thank Heather B. for pointing this out. Evidently the FMLN actually has around 43% of the national votes.
Heather also informs me that a contact says the seats totals are different from previous reports:
Partido de Conciliación Nacional 11
Partido Demócrata Cristiano 5
Cambio Democrático 1
If these various numbers are correct, the FMLN is still under-represented (which was the main theme of yesterday’s report here) and, in terms of seats won, the party has been harmed even more by the nonconcurrent elections (a theme I wrote about on Sunday), given that the FMLN presidential candidate is still expected to approach or exceed 50% in the March election. But the FMLN did not do as well in votes, or wind up as seriously under-represented, in Sunday’s election as I previously believed.
(Even a Salvadoran newspaper had the preliminary seat totals of the PCN way off, reporting 4. If it won 11, it would be more in keeping with its usual totals, and would certainly continue its tendency to be over-represented by the simple-quota, largest-remainders system.)
These revised numbers would also mean a significant change in the political calculus for an eventual FMLN presidency. No longer would the PDC have enough votes in congress to get the FMLN over half the seats, if it chose to bargain with the president and his party. The FMLN will need the PCN, which would be interesting: this is the party that has its roots in the rural support network of the old pre-1979 regime that the FMLN organized to overthrow (and that the PDC probably defeated electorally at the head of a center-left coalition in 1972). The PCN has worked in the legislature with the FMLN before–for instance, on as agrarian-debt relief bill that passed, but was vetoed by the ARENA president. So they presumably can work together again. (I think a broad right-wing opposition majority coalition and thus divided government, assuming the FMLN indeed has the presidency, would be very unlikely.)
I still am unable to get the electoral commission website to load.
I have uprooted yesterday’s planting. I will re-plant an analysis of votes-seats relationships once results are more clear.
Haaretz notes that Arab MKs had walked out of the Electoral Commission hearing room, as the vote to ban their parties was about to be taken, shouting, “this is a fascist, racist state.” Evidently the Supreme Court justices unanimously determined to show otherwise.
(I wanted to go over and update the Crooked Timber thread about this ban–where there was quite a vigorous discussion–but the comments are closed, a mere week after the original post. Unlike here at F&V, where the orchard always is fertile for new seeds to sprout.)
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