While we await the official results due Sunday, the exit polls are now out in India’s general election. The Hindustan Times reports that they suggest a close call, with (as expected) neither of the main alliances having won a majority.
an India TV exit poll telecast after balloting ended said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) could end up with 195-201 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha.
This tally could go up to 227-237 if the seats bagged by estranged allies such as Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party were to be included. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was tipped to bag 189-195 seats and the Third Front 113-121 seats, it said.
The story points out that the eligible electorate in India is greater than the combined populations of Russia and the USA: 714 million. Turnout was only about 55%, however.
Separately, the HT notes that the (otherwise mostly ceremonial) President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, “has a plan.”
Government functionaries familiar with the line of thinking at Rashtrapati Bhavan [the presidential residence] suggest that the single largest political party — rather than the largest pre-poll alliance — may get the first offer to form the government.
However, the story also notes that a previous president, K.R. Narayanan, believed that the president had “full discretion” in choosing the PM (who in any case has to prove his or her majority on the floor).
There is no clear view at Rashtrapati Bhavan if Patil should stick to this precedent and ask the largest party to produce evidence of support from their coalition partners.
Though the Congress too had submitted letters from supporting parties before [incumbent PM] Manmohan Singh got a formal invite from President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004, a strong case is being made out for the President to not get into counting heads. She should instead ask the Prime Minister to take a floor test.
The BC-STV proposal suffered a resounding defeat in British Columbia’s referendum yesterday. The electoral reform, originally recommended by a Citizens Assembly, won only 38.2% of the vote,* a nearly 20-percentage-point drop from what it earned the first time it was on the ballot, in 2005. (Then as now, it required 60% provincewide and majorities in 60% of the districts to pass.)
One needs only to look at the results of the concurrent general election to see why FPTP retains such widespread support: The first-past-the-post system is working well for the province. FPTP, in a parliamentary form of government, is expected to produce a contest between two principal parties, one of which will win a clear governing majority. And that’s what BC got out of this election, with the incumbent Liberals winning 46% of the vote (a small increase over the 2005 election) to the New Democrats’ 42.1%. The Liberal party’s strong plurality translates into an even stronger majority of seats–49 (57.6%)–just as is expected from FPTP.
That the STV proposal managed a majority in the 2005 referendum is likely attributable to the fresh memories of how a FPTP parliamentary system can fail to do what is expected of it. Two elections prior to that, it had produced a plurality reversal (NDP seat majority despite Liberal vote plurality), while in 2001, the Liberals swept almost every seat, depriving parliament of an opposition presence.
The 2009 election represents the second consecutive return to normal performance after those two anomalies. Presumably, roughly three fifths of BC voters are relieved that they had the opportunity to revisit their yes-but-no outcome of four years ago, and cast a loud-and-clear vote against abandoning their British electoral heritage.
More than 19 million votes, or 18 percent of the total, were “wasted” because they went to the 29 parties that failed to make it to the House.
Well, the new threshold ‘worked’–at least in its ‘mechanical’ effect.
PD is the only party to have passed the minimum threshold of 20 percent of House seats to earn the right to nominate their candidate, the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He will still need to form a coalition with other parties, if not to pick a running mate from, at least to beef up his party’s strength in the House. The combination of Golkar and Hanura ensures they have the right to field their candidate, most likely Jusuf Kalla, Yudhoyono’s estranged Vice President. The PDI-P of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri is still working to forge its own coalition.
One party over 20% of seats, even with all those wasted votes. Now that’s fragmentation!
There is now and EU Profiler that tests where you stand in relation to parties competing for seats in the European Parliament. You may set it to analyze (oops, analyse) parties in one European country, or Europe as a whole. I figured I might as well do the latter, and the result suggests I should move to Spain, where Izquierda Unida is in about an 87% agreement with me (and this in spite of the fact that the Profiler did not ask where I stand on the issue of a “just and democratic electoral law“).
Related: Dr. Sean denies he is a British Liberal Democrat, but learns he is an Estonian Green.
I find it quite striking that the argument submitted by the campaign to defeat British Columbia’s referendum on adopting STV (and posted alongside the ‘yes’ at CBC) does not address the inter-party dimension. That is, it does not attack STV on the grounds that it would eliminate (or reduce) the tendency towards single-party governments or allow “extreme” parties into the legislative assembly.
In fact, the argument against STV is almost entirely directed at the intra-party dimension, that is the nature of the parties and the extent of individual legislator accountability one would get, buttressed by claims about the Irish experience. The core of the intraparty attack is:
STV replaces local representation with regional representation by a group of MLAs, who would be hard to hold accountable for their actions. Proponents claim that there are no safe seats with STV, but with STV many politicians in Ireland hang on for over thirty years.
Their parties run only as many candidates in each area as they think they can elect, thereby creating safe seats and increasing the power of political parties who determine who they nominate to be members of parliament. That reduces the choice available to voters.
Attacking the “vote management” incentives STV gives parties is a very smart strategy, as is arguing that members will be less “accountable” to local constituents.
Before the quoted passage, there is the usual line of attack on the alleged complexity of voting and vote-counting under STV, including a rather disingenuous claim about how transfers work. Rather remarkably, this attack is buttressed by a link to a video made by the Citizens Assembly that recommended the system.
No STV is confident that those who watch the short video (prepared by the Citizens’ Assembly) explanation of how the Single Transferable Vote count takes place will reject; so confident that it is posted on the top of the No STV website.
Nowhere are any inter-party arguments invoked. Indeed,
No STV takes no position on whether other electoral systems – such as Mixed Member Proportional – might be an improvement [on the status quo].
The Green Party, currently not in the legislature due to FPTP, is also invoked:
In this election the Green Party is supporting STV, but in 2004 it submitted a brief to the Citizens’ Assembly strongly opposing STV. They interviewed the Green Party in Ireland and reported to the Assembly on how it actually works.
By contrast, the ‘yes’ argument is almost entirely based upon the inter-party dimension (a preference for not having majorities that are manufactured by FPTP), as well as an appeal to BC voters to establish their province as “the foremost laboratory of electoral reform in Canada.” Their argument even acknowledges the “too complicated” objection to STV (thereby violating one of the principles of framing an argument). It invokes the majority vote in 2005 in favor of the proposal,” essentially admitting that vote was based on low information!
While I would certainly vote ‘yes’ were I voting in BC, I have to give the ‘no’ side the credit for a much stronger argument. They attack STV where it is most vulnerable, rather than attempt to defend FPTP and manufactured majorities. And the use of the Citizens Assembly video looks like a master stroke. Meanwhile, the ‘yes’ side fails to even mention the process by which ordinary citizens crafted the proposal, which was allegedly a selling point last time around.**
* When it won 57% of the vote. It required 60%.
9 June. This is a Canadian province and FPTP jurisdiction that has had somewhat “anomalous” outcomes in the past (click ‘N.S.’ above for a discussion around the last election), yet no major push (that I know of) for electoral reform. Unlike BC, for example.
For Kuwait’s upcoming parliamentary election, the government is instituting, for the first time ever, a campaign against buying or selling one’s vote.
During a recent broadcast on Dubai TV (which I saw via Link TV Mosaic), this poster was shown. I do not read Arabic, but I gather that these voters are happy because they have neither bought nor sold their vote.
Kuwait had parliamentary elections just a year ago, using a form of multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV). Apparently voters were “limited” to voting for fewer than M candidates, where M is the magnitude of the electoral system. That was a change from the previous “unlimited” vote, in which each voter could cast up to M votes, and the candidates with the top M vote totals in the district would win. M-votes MNTV is often misleadingly called “block vote.” However, in the 2003 election when this system was still in use, there was not a lot of “blockness” of voting, which I suggested could be calculated from the ratios of winners’ and losers’ votes.
Non-transferable vote systems–whether voting is “limited” or not–are personalistic, and thus provide the context in which vote-buying can be expected to flourish, absent effective controls of one kind or another. Limits on the number of votes per voter (with SNTV being the limit) would not exactly seem to decrease the personalism that often breeds “vote-buying,” especially in the absence of legally recognized political parties to structure the campaign.
Kuwaitis are going back to the polls so early because the emir evidently did not like the notion of a parliament that would question the prime minister. So he dissolved it.
British Columbia is now just over a week away from its (second) referendum on the proposal to change to single transferable vote for future provincial legislative assembly elections. The referendum will be concurrent with the election to the next provincial assembly, by FPTP, at which the Liberals will be seeking a third term. The voting takes place on 12 May.
The election race could be tightening, with a recent poll putting the Liberals on only 42%, the NDP at 39%, and the Greens 13%.
If the race is (at least) that tight between the top two parties, and the Greens are that strong, just about any outcome is possible, given the past history of this province’s FPTP but multiparty elections–the history that initially put electoral reform on the map over the past decade. In fact, the item just linked includes a section about how the poll is an “echo [of the] B.C. Liberals’ 1996 defeat.” In that year the NDP won its most recent assembly majority despite the Liberals’ having won their first-ever voting plurality.
The referendum requires 60% to pass, plus majorities in 60% of the provincial ridings (electoral districts). Sixty percent of votes is probably at least 20 percentage points more than it would take either party to win 60% of ridings, depending on margins and geographical distribution of the vote.
There are YES and NO sites regarding the referendum that are worth a look.
I have addressed many of these issues in past B.C. plantings.
At The Monkey Cage, John Sides notes, “All in all, I am quite impressed by how much political science research speaks to Specter’s switch, and how well it helps us understand his decision and what may result from it.”
The upshot is that political science would appear generally to suggest that Specter will change his voting behavior towards substantial consistency with his new party. That would be quite contrary to what I heard a reporter for Roll Call say on WHYY radio earlier today (that he would not change “a single vote”, Arlen will still be Arlen, etc.).
Parties matter to politicians, and so they tend to switch to parties that are compatible with their goals, including ideological preferences. And, yes, parties matter in these (and other) ways even in the US Senate. (For that matter, even in Brazil, where switching for consistency in policy voting might be even more unexpected by conventional wisdom, and where party switching is notoriously common.)
Some pundits have already suggested an “ah hah” moment over Specter’s almost immediate post-switch vote against the budget resolution.* But it was a freebie for him. Budget resolutions can’t be filibustered and the measure had a clear majority without Specter. It was a perfect–and for Specter, perfectly timed–opportunity to demonstrate that he remains “independent.” But that vote should not be taken as predictive of how he will behave between now and the 2010 elections, or beyond.
* The linked item ends by noting that Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who brifly considered joining Obama’s Cabinet, said “”When you join a caucus, you have to vote with them most of the time.”
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