With 1.3 million ballots cast in his favour, a professional clown named Tiririca won more votes than any other candidate in Sunday’s elections. It’s the second-highest tally ever recorded in Brazil’s history. [...]
He may not be able to serve, however:
The constitution requires that lawmakers be able to read and write, and the weekly newsmagazine Epoca alleged in a recent article that Tiririca is illiterate. A last-minute legal challenge failed to remove him from the ballot, but electoral authorities say he could still lose his congressional seat if his literacy is lacking.
In any case, his high vote total was enough to win at least five seats for his list:
The Chamber’s “open-list” system of proportional representation allocates seats to parties based on the total number of votes won by their candidates. Tiririca’s whopping victory means four or more fellow candidates from his Party of the Republic (PR) could ride into office on his coattails.
Critics complain that the open-list system favours celebrity or novelty candidates, but novelty is no guarantee of success. Adriely Fatal, a 23-year-old stripper who attracted some media attention, failed to win a seat in the Ceara state assembly. A member of the Christian Workers Party, Ms. Fatal had pledged to open a strip club in every town.
While it is nice to see a mainstream media account refer to the open-list electoral system, the kind of result reported in this account did not depend on the open list. As long as Grumpy advertised the PR as his party, on which he was number one on the list in Sao Paulo, his personal vote still would be sufficient to elect the same number under a closed list as under an open list.
A more interesting question is whether, in case he is deemed ineligible, the preference votes he brought to his list would be deducted from the votes of his party (given that the open list permits us to know just how many votes each candidate contributed)? I do not know Brazilian law, but one sentence in the report implies this could be the case. It says, “Whether Tiririca takes his seat could affect the power balance in the next Chamber of Deputies.” If his potential ineligibility affects only him, and not the total number of votes counted for the list, then the resolution of the case against him changes nothing. The list would elect the same number of candidates, only without its clown head.
Here we are, on the last day of the season, and three teams are still in contention for two slots. We could still have all three teams involved in a tiebreaker “tournament,” something that has never happened before.
In my previous discussion of playoff formats, in which I suggested a change to two divisions and two wild cards (instead of three divisions and one wild card), I did not mention the current NL races. I overlooked the 2010 NL because, under my proposal, the same five teams would be involved in the battle for four slots. However, instead of the one wild card being between the SD/SF loser and Atlanta, we would have the two wild card slots being between those teams plus Cincinnati.
Under the actual format, the Reds, like the Rangers in the AL, wrapped their division up a while ago. Yet the Reds start the last day of the season with the same record as the Padres and Braves, one of whom will not be advancing.
It is hard to believe that as recently as 25 August, the Padres enjoyed a 6.5 game lead in the National League West and had the League’s best record. The next day a funny thing happened. I attended a game. It was my first Padre game of the season, days after I returned from months in Israel. They lost that day, to the lowly Diamondbacks, and would lose nine more before their next win.
Today they are on the precipice, having evidently forgotten what little they ever knew about hitting.
Let me see if I have this straight…
The Padres could win all three in San Francisco this weekend, then come home for an “overhang game” against the Giants, win their fourth straight, and be the division winner.
Or the Padres could win all three in San Francisco, and avoid needing to make it a 4-game streak, if the Braves lose three in a row at home against the Phillies. Then the Braves would be eliminated from the Wild Card, and the Padres would be the division winner without a tie-breaking game (because they would have won the head-to-head with the Giants, 13-5, making SF the Wild Card team).
It gets yet more interesting if the Padres sweep while the Braves win one of three. Then we have a three-way tie. Now that would be fun to watch, but it still means a 4-game winning streak against the Giants to win the division. (If they lost their overhang game against the Giants they’d get one more chance in this scenario, in an overhang game against the Braves for the Wild Card.)
Or the Padres could win just two of three from the Giants, while the Braves get swept. Then they play the Braves in an overhang game to decide the Wild Card.
See, still various ways to get to the playoffs even after a miserable five weeks. But the best we can say for the Padres is they simply need a miracle.
Hey fans, as they like to say at the Padres’ ballpark, “keep the faith!”
The only real question in Sunday’s presidential election in Brazil is whether Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the incumbent Workers Party (PT), will win in one round or two. Two-term Persident Luiz Inácio (Lula) da Silva, the founder and till now only presidential candidate of the PT, is barred constitutionally from running again.
The congressional elections will be interesting to watch. The PT takes advantage of “presidentialization” and “electoral separation of purpose” about as brilliantly as any party could. It has a now proven record of being able to build one coalition large enough to win national majorities to elect the president, while retaining its niche appeal as a cohesive leftist party in congressional elections. Its president then builds coalitions with other parties in order to govern. These coalitions and governing choices are not always to the congressional party’s liking, but it’s better to not like your president’s choices than not to have the presidency. A party so small could never dominate the executive branch in a parliamentary democracy.
The following graph shows the relationship between presidential and congressional votes of the PT in each congressional district (state) in the 1994-2006 period. Only in a few cases does the PT congressional vote come even close to the presidential vote in that state.
Consider that in 2006, Lula won 49% of the first round vote in his reelection bid, and 61% in the runoff. Yet in the Chamber of Deputies elected the same day as the first round, the PT won 15% of the vote and 83 of the 513 seats. In 2002 it had been similar: Lula won 46% in the first round and 61% in the second, with the PT winning 18% of the Deputies vote and 92 seats.
In fact, the votes of the presidential and congressional “branches” of the PT were negatively correlated in 2006! That is, where Lula gained votes, his party lost votes. He and his party really have learned how to fish in different ponds.
In keeping with the theme that sparked considerable interest earlier in the week, I just wanted to make an observation about the current system of baseball championships, compared to the one it replaced.
I have always thought there was a certain “divine justice” in the way the 1993 and 1994 championship races unfolded. With it known that 1993 was going to be the last year without wild cards, we were treated to a NL West race that went down to the last day of the season. Two teams winning over 100 games, but it was winner-take-all. One of them was going to go home while the other advanced.
Then in 1994, the first year of three divisions and one wild card, we were spared the embarrassment of a possible first-ever playoff team with a sub-.500 record only by the player’s strike that ultimately resulted in there being no playoffs at all that year. The Rangers were in first place in the AL West at 52-62 when the season was called off. That was the eleventh best record in the league! They, or whoever might have ended the West on top, surely would have climbed the overall standings if the season had continued, but not inevitably into the top five or even top seven. We will never know, and it is probably just as well.
While the 1993 NL West race was a thrilling old-fashioned “pennant race,” all it got the Giants, who finished one game out in the West with 103 wins, was an early winter vacation. The Braves went on to lose to the Phillies (97 regular-season wins).
So at the conclusion of one great season, we got both our last great winner-take-all race, and a demonstration of why having winner-take-all divisions, with no wild card, can be inherently unfair. Just because the two best teams in the league happened to be in the same division (the “West,” despite Atlanta’s actual location), a 103-game winner sat out the postseason in favor of an inferior team.
The 1994 races gave us a clear demonstration of the problem of small divisions. If several mediocre (at best) teams happen to be concentrated in one region, especially one that comprises a division of only four teams, a manifestly undeserving team can enter the postseason as a “division champion.”
The only reason I did not invoke 1994 in the earlier discussion was not that the season was incomplete, but that it was played under a “balanced schedule” that meant teams within a league played each other team the same number of games. Some years into the new format, an unbalanced schedule was brought back in to ensure more games against each intra-division rival than against other teams. The unbalanced schedule makes clearly undeserving division winners less likely than the 1994 format. But as the 2005 Padres showed it is not a guarantee that a team in the middle of the league’s overall standings pack won’t be crowned a division champion. And that was the main problem that my proposal of two divisions with two wild cards was meant to address.
The Allahabad High Court (HC) took the first step on Thursday towards the resolution of the 60-year-old Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi ownership dispute — by including all the warring parties in the process.
The HC gave its stamp of judicial approval to the Hindu belief that Lord Ram was indeed born there. The court also ruled by a majority verdict that the disputed 120 feet by 90 feet plot land be divided into three equal parts among three petitioners — Sunni Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party representing Ram Lalla.
This also means that the court’s three-way split of the plot to the petitioners — even after dismissing their cases — has kept the window open for further talks. [...]
The court said the area under the central dome of the three-domed structure, where Lord Ram’s idol existed [and is presently kept in a makeshift temple at the same place], belonged to Ram Lala Virajman (the Ram deity). [Ed. note: previous brackets were in original]
The case is likely to remain unsettled for years if there is an appeal (as expected) to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, there are already political reverberations in Bihar, one of India’s largest states and one where voting begins in state assembly elections later this month.
The Ayodhya issue–specifically the 1992 destruction by militant Hindu nationalists of a Mosque built in Moghul times on the site Hindus claim as holy–was one that helped propel India’s main opposition party, the BJP, to prominence. One of the BJP’s partners in the National Democratic Alliance (which governed India from the late 1990s until 2004) is the JD(U), a party in Bihar that needs Muslim votes.
Following the “Orange Revolution” at the end of 2004, Ukraine’s parliament passed a package of constitutional reforms that stripped the presidency of the power to appoint and dismiss the premier and cabinet. Under the reforms, following a parliamentary election, a majority coalition had to form before a prime minister could be appointed; the president had to accept the choice of this coalition, and the government depended on the exclusive confidence of the parliamentary majority.
These reforms have now been reversed by a ruling of the constitutional court (CSM, DW). So Ukraine will again be a president-parliamentary system, instead of the premier-presidential system under which it has functioned in recent years.
The court has ruled that constitutional procedures were violated in the passage of the reforms. This is an awfully long time after the changes came into effect to be finding their enactment to be inadmissible!
The practical political effect is that the President Viktor Yanukovych, the very candidate that the “old regime” tried to install through the fraud that sparked the Orange Revolution and who won the presidency earlier this year, is now strengthened. He won the presidential election earlier this year, after one term of the pro-Western Orange candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.
At the time of the Orange Revolution, it was the people around Yanukovych who insisted on weakening the presidency and empowering the parliamentary majority. The parliament at the time had been elected in 2002, and was dominated by old-regime loyalists. Now Yanukovych has not only the office of the presidency, but also the restored power of the pre-Orange institution.
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