While the results of some constituencies are not yet complete, the general shape of the Irish result is known.
Elections Ireland.org compares seats so far to seats at the last election. Out of 153 seats called thus far, it shows the top four parties as follows:
Fianna Fail 18 (-60)
Fine Gael 70 (+19)
Labour 36 (+16)
Sinn Fein 13 (+9)
Independents and others will have 14 seats, up by 8.
As expected, quite a debacle for Fianna Fail. Preliminary results show Fine Gael with 36.1% of the first-preference vote (up 8.8 on 2007), Labour on 19.4% (+9.3). Fianna Fail has fallen to 17.4% (from 41.5%!).
Independents combined for 12.6% (almost double last time). The Greens, who were coalition partners to Fianna Fail in the outgoing government, saw their vote fall from 4.6% to 1.8%, will not win a seat.
At the Political Reform blog, Eoin O’Malley poses the question of whether Labour should join a coalition (as expected) or support a minority Fine Gael cabinet.
A sampling of the argument:
By entering government Labour will stunt its own growth and the potential development of a left-right divide in Irish politics. If it were to stay in opposition it would displace Fianna Fáil as the main opposition party. …
…staying in opposition would protect Labour’s left flank. In going into government Labour will be opposed vigorously by a young, energetic and largely articulate Sinn Féin and ULA.
The Labour leadership will no doubt claim that it does not want to go into government but that the national interest demands it. … But it’s not even that clear that it is in the national interest to enter government.
Ireland, of course, is the land of the Single Transferable Vote (STV).
Indications are that turnout is high.
The Fianna Fail party, which has led the government during the current financial crisis, is expected to fall to third place. How often does a governing party in a democracy fall to third place? Not too often. Canada 1993, when the Progressive Conservatives fell to fifth place, with only 2 seats, must be the record.
Fianna Fail, which won 42% in the 2007 election, has been polling at around 15%. So, in terms of votes, if not seats, the party could challenge the Canadian record (where Conservatives fell from 43% to 16%).
The forecast says the snow level will drop to as low as 2000 feet Saturday evening, locally 1000. We are at 1500.
It has been a really cold week, by local standards, especially for late February.
Too bad all this chill is basically useless for the deciduous fruit trees, coming this late. We surpassed 500 chill hours earlier this month. However, we really won’t get more useful chill, as almost everything is leafing out or blooming by now. And getting snow, or freezing temperatures on the buds and blooms is not a good thing.
Al Jazeera* quotes a message it received from someone in Britain, commenting on a pro-Sharia demonstration outside the Libyan embassy:
We call them the nutters, because that’s what they are. We are Libyans. we are Muslims… but these people don’t want democracy or freedom. What do they want, dictatorship? We always lived together – Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Jews. And we’re all going to live together again.
It’s a nice sentiment. I do not know about Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but there was indeed a Jewish community in Libya. It was one of the oldest communities in the world. However, virtually all of them fled following pogroms in 1945 and 1948. Gaddafi was a shoolboy at that time. All but a tiny number of those Jews who remained after Libyan independence in 1951 were gone after another round of pogroms following the Six Day War. This was, of course, during the reign of the king whose flag now flies over the “liberated” parts of Libya.
While liberation of Libya from one of the worst tyrants of our time will be a good thing, it will not mean the return to a time of inter-communal harmony, which in any case is largely mythical.
For recent updates on Jewish communities that still exist in the Arab world, the always excellent Point of No Return is highly recommended.
A column in The Independent by John Curtice (Professor of Politics at Strathclyde) suggests that the UK Conservative Party has good reason to oppose the adoption of the Alternative Vote (AV). At every election in the past three decades, save one, the Conservatives would have won fewer seats under AV than they did under First Past the Post (FPTP). The conclusion is based on analysis of polls from these past elections that asked voters who their second choice would have been.
While the Liberal Democrats would have gained seats in most elections, they would not have gained enough in any election to result in neither big party holding a majority in parliament. Only 2010 would have been a no-majority situation, just as it was under FPTP in the election that produced the current Conservative-LibDem coalition.
While the government is going ahead with the referendum on AV for May of this year, as part of its coalition agreement, the two parties are opposing each other on the referendum question.
There is, of course, always the chance that changed voting patterns resulting from the very existence of the coalition itself could make Conservatives a beneficiary of AV in future elections–a possibility not addressed by Curtice’s study. There have been indications recently that at least some Conservatives were warming to AV. Yet based on past experience, Conservatives and AV do not mix.
Curtice’s columns provides some breakdowns of the voting patterns and likely effect at each of the elections analyzed.
There is also a companion article in The Independent on this theme.
It is not easy to know what is going on in Libya, because media access is limited.
You could have won some cash off me had we wagered even a week ago, for I figured Qaddafi (or however you spell his name) had such a tight grip that mass protests would not break out. But break out they have, and the state response has been furious. But it seems the protesters really have lost their fear…
The Guardian is now reporting that, for apparently the first time, protests have spread to Tripoli:
In dramatic and fast-moving developments demonstrators were reported massing in Tripoli’s Green Square and preparing to march on Gaddafi’s compound.
Meanwhile the head of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya has threatened to cut off oil exports unless authorities stop what he called the “oppression of protesters”, the Warfala tribe, one of Libya’s biggest, has reportedly joined the anti-Gaddafi protests.
Anti-government protesters in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have reportedly seized army vehicles and weapons … A local witness said that a section of the troops had joined the protesters on Sunday as chaos swept the streets of the city, worst hit by the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year old rule.
The Al Jazeera article also reports that about 50 Muslim leaders in Libya have called on security forces to stop firing on civilians.
Even for a dictator as ruthless and oblivious to international condemnation as Qaddafi these have to be ominous signs.
The two houses of the British parliament played “ping pong” well into the night on the bill to convoke a referendum this May on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote system for future House of Commons elections. The bill finally cleared and has received Royal assent, according to the UK Press Association (in an item released about an hour ago, or 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, London time). The referendum will go ahead on 5 May, the same day as English local and Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections.
Today was the deadline set by the Electoral Commission for having the referendum, a critical item in the government’s coalition agreement, ready to go. (Some sources said this week, but not specifically today; the Lords was to go into recess, increasing the urgency.)
The main matter of contention between the houses was over whether to mandate a minimum threshold of participation in order for a majority voting YES to prevail. The Lords had amended the original bill so as to require at least 40% voter turnout in the referendum. The Commons took this amendment out, by a vote of 317-247 earlier this week, which necessitated sending it back to the Lords for approval. Earlier Wednesday, reports Sky News, the Lords voted 277-215 to insist on their turnout amendment.
On another amendment, the Lords defeated by only one vote a proposal that “would have allowed the Boundary Commission extra flexibility when deciding the size of Parliamentary constituencies.” The bill is not only about the AV referendum, but also includes changes to the boundary-delimitation process and a related reduction in the total numbers of constituencies–measures demanded by some Conservatives as a price for swallowing the very idea of considering AV. Some Labour peers have alleged that the constituency changes amount to gerrymandering.
The Lords finally voted down the amendment on the turnout requirement by a vote of 221-153 (according to the UKPA item).
According to The Jordan Times, the “centrist” National Constitutional Party (NCP) says it would be premature to adopt a party-list system–evidently meaning a fully list-based system, for the news item leads with:
Centrists on Saturday called for a new elections law that combines voting in “geographically identified districts” and a proportional representation list.
This appears to be an endorsement of some form of mixed-member system.
[The NCP leader] expressed concern that elections on the basis of partisan tickets might only benefit the Islamic Action Front, which demands an elected parliamentarian government. What the centrist parties want, he explained, is a system based on one vote for the district and another for a “bloc”.
Jordan’s current electoral system is single non-transferable vote (SNTV), although it is known rather awkwardly as the “one man, one vote” system. (That term, although a literal description of SNTV, among many other systems, elsewhere refers to an absence of malapportionment, which is something Jordan actually has a good deal of.)
I should know that when even the spammers stop “commenting,” as they did sometime last week, something is wrong.
I just checked the Word Press settings and found that the box that says that one must be “registered and logged in” in order to comment was checked. I did not check it.
How can a setting check itself? The answer, the previous of several times this had happened, seemed to be a hacker. I changed my password and made other fixes (with help of some of this blog’s greatest supporters). And yet this has happened again.
As of the moment, all recent posts should be open for comments. Older ones are still automatically shut down. I hope to insert some code in the near future that will automatically re-open them.
As always, thanks to my readers for their support and patience as we work out the bugs.
Bugs can be the downfall of any orchard, including the virtual kind.
* Hosni Mubarak
* Ali Abdullah Saleh
* Kim Jong Il
* Alexander Lukashenko
* Omar Hassan al-Bashir
* Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
* Robert Mugabe
* Emomali Rahmon
* House of Saud
* Abdelaziz Bouteflika
The first one on that list has done what most autocrats in the deepest of trouble do: unleash the goons. Some of them are charging at the protesters on horses or camels. Very troubling event today. Perhaps the only surprise is that it has taken so long for some sort of street violence to commence. Mubarak was never likely to go easily.
Watching the Al Jazeera live stream, I have to say I can’t recall ever seeing images of running street battles on this scale.
The chaos, it seems from here, can only increase the odds of a worse form of authoritarianism replacing Mubarak, whose days are likely numbered regardless of how ruthless his goons are.
The bill to call a referendum on the Alternative Vote this May in the UK needs to pass by 16 February. With a long stream of amendments being debated in the House of Lords, the legislative process is coming down to the wire.
The dispute delaying the bill has been over provisions attached by the government that links the referendum to a review of the constituency boundary process and reduces the number of MPs from 650 to 600. Labour objects to these provisions.
This week it appears that the deadlock in the second chamber has been broken, and the bill will soon come to a vote.
Among the proposals thought to be on offer is the suggestion that public inquiries take place where boundary changes are contentious. There is also likely to be some sort of post-legislation scrutiny of the reduction to 600 seats and a greater variation of seat sizes – a key demand of Labour. (The Independent)
The government had threatened to use the “guillotine” on the bill–that is, to cut off debate and pass it without Lords consent.
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