Chile’s presidential election (first round) is Sunday. The contest is particularly interesting, because there is an “outsider” candidate, Marco Enriquez-Ominami (ME-O),* who is splitting the center-left vote ahead of the first round. As the BBC describes him:
A hyperactive 36-year-old filmmaker with only a few years of political experience under his belt and no party affiliation, no-one gave him a chance when he announced his candidacy.
Chile’s politics since the end of the military regime have been dominated by two big multi-party alliances, and so far the center-left Concertacion has won every election.
ME-O is not likely to be the ultimate winner (or even to advance to a runoff), but he has shaken up the contest.
He says the ruling centre-left coalition, the Concertacion, has run out of steam after 20 years in power, and Chile needs a new constitution and a new electoral system. Both date from the years of military rule under Pinochet.
Mr Enriquez-Ominami has also challenged the established candidates on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, issues which – in a country regarded as among the most conservative and Catholic in Latin America – are seldom discussed during election campaigns.
The mainstream candidates are, for the Concertacion, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei (a former president seeking a comeback following two consecutive presidencies from the Socialist Party) and, from the conservative opposition alliance, Sebastian Pinera (running for the second time).
A previous comment by Eduardo Olivares provides much useful background. As Eduardo notes, this is an interesting parallel with the 2005 election, when it was the center-right that split and had two candidates in the first round.
It will be very interesting to see what impact the presence of two presidential candidates competing for the center-left vote has on the concurrent legislative elections. In 2005, on the right, we saw the very unusual situation of two parties presenting separate presidential candidates while allied for the legislature. This time, of course, the third candidate is an independent rather than an affiliate of one of the allied parties; I assume he does not have his own legislative lists, but I hope someone can confirm that. (With Chile’s 2-seat districts and D’Hondt open-list PR, one of the main political tendencies being split for legislative races would be catastrophic, because it potentially would allow the other bloc of parties to double the votes of the runner-up in many districts and thus win both seats. Given the runoff, on the other hand, there is little cost to splitting in the presidential race. Perhaps as a result we have a new trend in Chilean elections.)
In 2005, the combined coattails of two candidates from the right was not helpful in the legislative races: The two candidates combined for 48.6% of the first-round presidential vote, but their common Deputies ticket did not even reach 40%. How will the coattails effect work for the center-left candidates in 2009?
The presidential runoff, if necessary–as it surely will be–is scheduled for 17 January.
* Not an “outsider” in the sense that Samuels and Shugart (2010) understand that term (where it means a candidate who has not served in the national party for which he or she is running), as ME-O is a legislator. However, he is running from outside of the Concertacion coalition that encompasses most of Chile’s left (as well as the Christian Democrats).
Note: I expect to be off line Sunday and through at least the first half of the week, so I shall rely on visiting propagators to keep the orchard tended for that time.
India is the classic case of what Alfred Stepan refers to as a “holding together” federation. In contrast to “coming together” federations, where (more or less) sovereign states band together to create a common central government to which the states surrender some of their sovereignty,* in a holding-together federation, a larger polity is subdivided into various sub-units that enjoy sovereignty over certain policy areas. Typically holding together is a strategy used to cope with ethnic divisions, by giving groups that are minorities in the larger polity their own states in which they constitute a majority.
India is a classic holding together federation because many of its current states did not exist when the country became independent in 1947, but rather have been created over the years in efforts to resolve various conflicts.
Such is the setting in which Telangana is about to be created, from within the existing borders of the very large southern state of Andhra Pradesh. In fact, the current capital of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, is to be included in the new state. As the Hindustan Times reports:
After nearly four decades of struggle for a separate state, the Telangana issue has reached a flashpoint. Under the leadership of K Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has pressurised the Centre government to set a deadline for the formation of a separate Telangana state.
The TRS is a regional party that is currently a component of the National Democratic Alliance, in which the large national party is the BJP. This alliance has been in opposition since the 2004 election and lost rather badly in federal elections earlier this year. However, the TRS was formerly part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (led by the Congress Party, and currently in power).
In 2004, the Congress party and the TRS had an electoral alliance in the Telangana region with the promise of a separate Telangana state. TRS joined the coalition government in 2004 and was successful in making a separate Telangana state a part of the common minimum program (CMP). In September 2006, TRS withdrew support from the Congress-led coalition government.
Protests and violence finally have led the UPA to accept the demands to divide Andhra Pradesh, a state that has existed since 1956.
The Hindustan Times story has some interesting detail on the history of the region. Another article discusses the political crisis that has now erupted in Andhra: 92 state legislators and several MPs are resigning in protest.
* The classic coming-together federation is, of course, the USA. Switzerland is another case. One of Stepan’s key points is that most federations are “holding together,” and thus theories of federalism based on the assumption that the units, rather than the central polity, are the original source of sovereignty (such as the classic work of William Riker) are inadequate to explain most federal countries in the world today, including newly federalizing cases such as Belgium, Iraq, and perhaps now Bolivia.
An hour or so before sunset, this colorful cloud appeared in the southwestern sky. When I first noticed it out my window, I thought I was just getting some sort of light effect from the dual-paned widow itself. But it looked that way from outside, too. At least around these parts, this is an unusual sight.
Yesterday we had heavy wind (gust here up to 35, which is rare, but other areas nearby had much stronger) and quite a bit of rain (1.4 inches here, more elsewhere). Today very chilly, by local standards (high 55F). More rain coming in the next few days, and likely a cold night tonight. Winter is here.
a last-minute deal between parliamentarians on Sunday night, 10 minutes before the expiry of a deadline for [Sunni member of Presidency Council] Hashemi to cast a second veto, rescued the election law and set the ballot back on track.
The agreement restored some seats to Sunni areas and also placated Kurdish complaints by giving their semi-autonomous northern provinces a handful more seats.
Where do those seats come from? Part of the deal is for a 325-seat parliament, rather than 275 (reported in Washington Post).
A BBC Arabic item from 7 Dec. (dubbed into English via Mosaic) provided some further detail. Of the 325 seats, 310 will be elected from the governatorates (provinces), serving as electoral districts. Forty one of these seats are assigned to the Kurdish districts (their parties had demanded 50). Of the 15 national-tier seats, 5 are set aside for Christians and 3 for other minorities (including the Yazidi). The other 7 were unspecified in the BBC report; the original controversy that triggered the veto was partly over the number of seats for Iraqis abroad. At that time, there were going to be 8 such seats (out of 275), so this deal would seem to be worse on that dimension. However, there are more seats in the Sunni-majority districts, which seems to have been the real issue all along.*
The Reuters India item reported that the election date would likely to be 27 February, rather than January as previously planned. However, BBC Radio is reporting today (8 Dec.) that it will be some time in early March.
Click “Iraq” in the “planted in” line for some discussion of the previous bills and the veto.
* Updates: Reidar Visser states that Iraqis abroad will vote in their home governorate (district). In that case, they do not need a special national constituency, as contemplated in the earlier draft. This is a much saner solution. He also notes that it is not actually clear what the finally agreed assembly size is. District magnitudes would range from about 6 to 72.
Reversing the (well within margin of error) exit polls, the official results show that Romanian President Traian Basescu has been reelected. The Social Democratic Party says it will contest the outcome before the Constitutional Court, alleging rigging.
The Central Electoral Bureau reports the result as 50.33% Bsescu to 49.66% Mircea Geoana. That’s close!
At A Fistful of Euros, Alex Harrowell notes that, after finishing second in the first round of the presidential election, Mircea Geoana obtained “promises of support from several other parties, notably the Liberals and the Hungarian minority.”
as part of the agreement with these groups, he’s promised to appoint the independent mayor of Sibiu – Hermannstadt in German – as prime minister. That’ll be one Klaus Johannis. Yes; he’s a Transylvanian German, the first time that a member of this minority will head the government. [...]
I can’t help but be amazed at the idea of a Romanian government that includes the Hungarians and is headed by a German…
Interesting indeed. In reading this I realized that I do not know the answer to this question, despite all the research I have done on semi-presidential systems: How often does a presidential candidate promise in advance to select a specific premier if elected? I would think not very often.
Incumbent Romanian president Traian Basescu is narrowly behind in today’s two-candidate presidential runoff. One exit poll has Mircea Geoana winning 51.6%. Others show the result even closer, so we may not know for sure for a bit.
Mexico is one of few* countries to prohibit legislators from serving consecutive terms. This past week, President Felipe Calderon announced that he will propose that legislators be permitted to seek reelection.
Quick reaction #1: good idea, as it would give the 300 members elected from single-seat districts (200 others are elected via closed-list PR) the incentive to actually represent the electorate of their districts, rather than immediately upon election seek to curry favor with whoever may offer them their next job.
Quick reaction #2: good luck passing it. The PRI, which is currently just short of a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, is unlikely to agree to a reform that would restrict the authority of party leaders (who tend to offer members that next job referred to in quick reaction #1). Even if the party wins back the presidency,** we are unlikely to see the degree of centralization and presidentialization of the halcyon days of PRI hegemony. However, in opposition, the PRI has become a “gubernatorialized” party, and the governors presumably would stand to lose much influence if legislators could seek longer tenure in congress.
* One of only two? (Costa Rica is the other one I know of.)
** Conventional wisdom seems to be that the party is a shoo-in for 2012. I am not so sure. That the party can do so well in midterm congressional elections when it is in opposition (such as in July 2009), and in gubernatorial elections (it governs almost two thirds of the states), says less than meets the eye about its prospects of finding a single candidate who can unite the party and appeal broadly enough win the presidency. Much will depend on whether the PAN finds a popular enough candidate to appeal beyond its narrow base and whether the PRD can pull itself together enough to appeal to the more leftist elements of the PRI constituency. (Mexican presidents are elected by nationwide plurality, and Calderon himself won about 36% in 2006 and defeated then-PRD candidate Lopez Obrador by the narrowest of margins.)
During the meeting of the committee held in Singhadurbar on Tuesday morning, the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML submitted a joint proposal and the UCPN (Maoist) and Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party tabled their separate proposals. NC and UML stood for improved parliamentary system comprising ceremonial president and executive prime minister elected from the House and Mixed Member Proportional Representation electoral system. They also proposed a one-year prohibition on no-confidence motion against the government and demanded alternative prime ministerial candidate prior to moving a no-trust motion. The Maoists proposed a directly elected executive president with consensual government and multi-member proportional direct electoral system while the TMLP floated the idea of executive president elected from parliament and mixed electoral system.
I am going to assume that the “multi-member proportional direct electoral system” means a standard districted PR (as opposed to MMP), but the description is somewhat less than straightforward. I would have to use my imagination a bit further to figure out what a “directly elected executive president with consensual government” is. Presumably some form of semi-presidentialism, but that is not a form of government that is necessarily conducive to consensus government (depending on various other important details).
The article includes greater detail on the voting breakdown.
UK PM Gordon Brown is proposing a bill before parliament that would provide for a referendum on replacing FPTP with Alternative Vote. The referendum would be held by October, 2011.
Of course, there is one big catch: Labour is unlikely to be in government by then, as most indications are that it will lose the general election that must be held by spring, 2010.
From the Guardian:
Ministers, who agreed the move at a meeting of the cabinet’s democratic renewal committee (DRC) yesterday, believe that the prospect of a referendum will have three key benefits. It will:
• Allow Labour to depict itself at the general election as the party of reform in response to the parliamentary expenses scandal.
• Make David Cameron look like a defender of the status quo. The Tories, who are opposed to abolishing the first-past-the-post system, would have to introduce fresh legislation to block the referendum if they win the election.
• Increase the chances that the Liberal Democrats will support Labour – or at least not support the Tories – if no party wins an overall majority at the election, resulting in a hung parliament. The Lib Dems have traditionally regarded the introduction of PR as their key demand in any coalition negotiations. While AV does not technically count as PR, many Lib Dems regard AV as a step in the right direction.
The proposal is itself a compromise:
Some ministers, such as the home secretary Alan Johnson and the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, were keen for Labour to burnish its reformist credentials by staging a referendum on the same day as the general election.
The prime minister resisted this option because it might have prompted Tory charges that a failing government was trying to save its skin by changing the electoral system for the election after next. The Electoral Commission has also made clear that it does not believe referendums should be held on the same day as general elections.
Speaking only as a political scientist, it would be nice to have another AV system! It also would be very interesting to see how a Conservative majority government, if one were to result from the 2010 election, would respond to the law on the books requiring it to hold a referendum that it does not want.
On a theme that we discuss here from time to time, the third party in Malta (Democratic Alternative) is proposing a compensatory element to the country’s single transferable vote system.
we are proposing a double threshold, with a district quota of 16.6% that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam, and a national quota with a threshold of 2 quotas for a party to be represented in parliament.
While various claims have been made about “high” turnout in Honduras, we should approach such claims with skepticism, at least for now. The TSE still has not posted anything other than “preliminary” results on its website. These show, at last check, that the combined votes for the presidential candidates are 1,527,969.
Could more than 470,000 votes (equivalent to more than 20% of the 2005 total valid vote) remain to be counted two days after the election? Or could more than 470,000 voters have cast blank or spoiled ballots? (In 2005, there were 133,351 “nulos” and 55,139 “blancos.”)
I refer readers again to boz’s pre-election post where he looked at the numbers in past elections and discussed the parameters for post-election spin.
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