I still don’t really expect this to be what the final result will look like. But with the election now just five days away, outcomes like the latest EKOS projection are starting to seem less outlandish:
It continues to show a breathtakingly different Parliament in which the Conservative government is reduced to 131 seats but the muscular new NDP have 92 and the Liberals have 63. This new political math would produce a Parliament where the non-Bloc opposition would have 155 seats, a bare majority and 24 more seats than the Conservatives.
The same poll shows the NDP within six percentage points of the Conservatives in the vote, and the latter below 35%. The Liberals, at 22.9, are almost as far behind the NDP as the NDP is behind the Conservatives.
For a week or more, nearly all polls have been picking up a surge in support for the NDP, so it no longer looks like a blip.
As can be expected when a party becomes competitive in seats it never expected to have a chance to win, the NDP has some rather dodgy candidates in Quebec. Will they ultimately be a liability and bring the party back down? Or will the next House have some highly colorful rookies?
I expected this to be a fairly boring election when it was called, but it looks like a thriller now.
Well, this projection at The Mace is certainly attention grabbing: “if an election were held tomorrow, the NDP have a 95.2% chance of winning more seats than the Liberals.” They also show the combined NDP-Liberal seat total as greater than the Conservatives’ (81+73 vs. 131).
Now that would be interesting.
I still am suspicious that the NDP surge, now confirmed in many polls, could be another Cleggmania bounce that will wither. On the other hand, Layton has been around a while, so we can’t say the NDP surge is as much a popular excitement with the unfamiliar, as was the case with Clegg.
The latest release of the Nanos daily tracking poll (which uses a three-day rolling average) in advance of the Canadian general election (2 May) shows some interesting regional dynamics.
The national trends continue to show the Conservatives well ahead but fairly flat since early April, at 39% of the vote. The Liberals are slipping slightly, now on 28% and the NDP is up a bit since the debates, at just under 20%. Really, not much has changed at the national level recently, but the regional picture is a different story.
In Quebec in the last few days, the NDP has surged into second place (25%) while the Conservatives have fallen to fourth place (17%). The BQ is on only 32.5%, well below where it was at the 2008 election (38.1%). The NDP figure is about double where the party was at the last election.
In Ontario, the NDP lags far behind its national share, with just under 13%, and that’s well below its 18.2% result at the last election.
Also of note is the NDP’s recent rise in polling in British Columbia, almost in a tie for second with the Liberals (although the NDP remains about where it was at the last election, 26.1%). The margins of error in the regional breakdowns are fairly large (on the order of 6% or more), so caveats in order.
A PDF report of the poll is available from Nanos. (Thanks to Wilf for the tip.)
The campaign ahead of the UK referendum on the Alternative Vote is seeing some rather strange cross-party activity.
In one of the more curious pairings of the modern political era, David Cameron will today share a platform with the Labour former cabinet heavyweight John Reid as the battle over electoral reform escalates and cuts across party lines. [Independent, 18 April 2011]
The Labour leader, Ed Milliband, is formally supporting AV, but about 100 Labour MPs are against it, as is Cameron and most of his Conservative Party. The LibDems, partners in government with the Conservatives, are of course in favor of AV.
Canada’s party leaders–or rather four of them–are holding their only pre-election debate in English this evening at 7:00 p.m., Eastern Time. (A debate in French is tomorrow, the date having been changed for the thoroughly Canadian reason of conflict with hockey.)
In Monday’s Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson says, in explaining why leaders, and by extension debates, matter:
while they ["political analysts"] know that Canada is on paper a parliamentary system, in reality voters think presidentially. They don’t vote for the candidate they want to represent them in the House of Commons; they vote for the leader and party they want to form the government
There are actually two statements in there, one fairly accurate, and the other way off. So let’s unpack them.
In virtually all parliamentary democracies, voters vote mainly for the “leader and party” they want to form the government–or gain a share of it, where coalitions are expected–and not for the candidate they want to be their local or regional representative. That’s parliamentary politics 101.
However, the first part of the quoted passage makes a much bolder claim, that voters vote as if it were a presidential election. This is a very different claim from simply asserting, as the second sentence implies, that the leader might be a key part of the reason for a voter’s party choice. It actually suggests that voters go a step farther, and vote for a given party if they want the leader to head the government–full stop. That has to be what “thinking presidentially” means. For what makes presidentialism distinct from parliamentarism in the voting process is precisely that voters can vote for a presidential candidate without also voting for that candidate’s party in the legislative election.
There is a literature in political science on “presidentialization” of prime ministers. It may be clear from these remarks what I think of it. If it is not, please consider reading (better yet, buying and reading!) Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers, because I could quite literally write a whole book on the topic (with lots of help; thanks, David!).
The short(-ish) version is that personalization is not the same as presidentialization. The personal characteristics of the executive candidate (or the legislative candidate, for that matter) might be a major factor in vote choice, perhaps more important than the party program or simple party loyalty. But unless you can show me that the candidate was selected to appeal to voters who would not otherwise vote for the party, and with the party having accepted that said candidate may not actually share the collective preferences of the party, then please do not tell me it is presidentialization. Because, one can show that parties in presidential systems make these sorts of tradeoffs all the time, and often to the detriment of the party as a whole. But one can also show that it simply is not the case very often in parliamentary systems. Yes, it happens. Blair and Koizumi come to mind. But I do not believe any of the about-to-debate Canadian leaders represent parties that have made such presidentializing tradeoffs, and certainly not Stephen Harper, who is running his fourth consecutive campaign and whose party has won a plurality, but not a majority, in the last two.
UK Polling Report has a fascinating account of a recent YouGov poll that attempts to answer the question of how the UK parties would fare under the Alternative Vote (which is being voted on in a referendum in less than a month), given current polling trends.
YouGov found that there would be no net change for the Conservatives, a slight decline for Labour, and a substantial boost for the Liberal Democrats. There would still be a Labour majority, but of only 34 seats instead of the 60 that the same poll projects under FPTP.
The poll involved giving respondents a picture of a ballot paper and allowed them to fill it out as much as they wanted with preferences. This is important because “Labour second preferences disproportionately go to the Green party, but given that the Green party will normally have already been eliminated in a count before Labour is, it’s actually their third or fourth preferences that count.”
Perhaps not at all surprisingly, fewer and fewer Labour voters will give the LibDems a preference at all now.
What this all boils down to is that in Con v Lab marginals the lower preferences of Lib Dems would help the Conservatives win seats from Labour, in Lab v LD seats Conservative lower preferences will help the Lib Dems win seats from Labour, in Con vs LD seats Labour lower preferences will help the Lib Dems… but Con losses there will be cancelled out by Con gains against Labour.
Peru held elections Sunday for president (first round), congress, and (if anyone cares) Andean Parliament.
The president is elected by two-round majority. The front-running candidate won just over a quarter of the vote: Ollanta Humala, with 27.4%. As is often the case with fragmented first-round fields, the race for the second slot in the runoff was closer than the race between the top two. Keiko Fujimori appears to have made it in with 20.8%, but as just over 82% of returns have been processed, her margin over Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, at 18.1%, is not safe yet.
Former president Alejandro Toledo ran fourth, currently on 13.6%.
Fujimori is, of course, the daughter of the former president, Alberto, who now resides in a jail cell. Kuczynski is a former prime minister who served during part of Toledo’s presidency. (Yes, Peru has a semi-presidential system, of the president-parliamentary subtype, and not a pure presidential system.)
As is typical in Peru, the party system barely deserves the name. The party of the incumbent, Alan Garcia, did not even have a candidate in this process. This party, APRA, has been a major party in Peru since the 1930s, although it has held the presidency only twice, both times with Garcia (elected 1985 and 2006).*
The names of the top five candidates’ parties tell us little about what they stand for: Peru Wins, Force 2011, Alliance for the Great Change, Possible Peru, and the National Solidarity Alliance (my translations). The candidate of Justice, Technology, and Ecology managed only 0.06% and National Awakening slumbered to 0.12%, while Forward remained stuck below 0.1%.
Far less of the congressional vote has been processed at this point. Peru’s unicameral congress is elected by open-list PR, with most districts having magnitudes in the 2-9 range, except for Lima (M=35).
UPDATE: Rici has some corrections on the congressional districting and other useful information in a comment, and boz also addresses the congressional result.
* Its “populist” founder, Victor Haya de la Torre, won a plurality in 1962, with 33% at a time when the rule was that one third of the votes was sufficient for the front-runner to be elected. Otherwise the legislature selected from the top three. A military coup annulled the results of the 1962 election.
The strategies of candidates and parties in mixed-member systems can be fascinating. Here is one current example from New Zealand, where voters will go to the polls in late November (at the same time as they vote in the first stage of a process to review or possibly replace MMP).
Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel will not stand on her party’s list this election, saying if the people from Christchurch do not want her to return as their electorate MP she would prefer to leave Parliament altogether.
Ms Dalziel is one of only two MPs who have spurned the safety of the party’s list for the election this November.
Her career is an interesting one, as in 1996 she was elected a list-only candidate. She says she did “not enjoy” being a list-only MP because it meant a less close connection with constituents. (NZ Herald, 8 April.)
She is an MP for Labour, and won her district (electorate) easily in 2008, with 52.9% of the vote; the closest challenger was the National Party candidate, with 35.9%. So unless there is a huge swing (unlikely, given that 2008 already saw a large swing towards National), she is not exactly putting her career on the line by giving up a list slot.
The former President and now Labour’s candidate for New Plymouth, Andrew Little, is the highest placed non-MP, at number 15.
The other non-MP with a winnable spot at number 26 is Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, a member of party leader Phil Goff’s media team.
The top 14 list places are held by senior, sitting MPs, headed by Mr Goff and his deputy, Annette King. (Radio NZ, 10 April; see the link for the full list.)
Meanwhile, Richard Long in the Dominion Post, decries the party’s list nominations as “gazumping the electoral process” and “little short of gerrymandering.”
Long wants MMM instead–which is the option on the referendum ballot referred to as “Supplementary Member.” It seems to me that if you don’t like gazumping and gerrymandering, you should like MMM a good deal less than MMP.
_____________ More on the Labour list and its “new blood,” including candidates with union backgrounds, and on repeat candidates with changed list positions at the NZ Herald, 10 April.
Via News.am, on the nominees of the Kurdish party, Peace and Democracy, for the upcoming Turkish parliamentary elections:
The Kurdish Party will support 61 independent candidates in 39 provinces of Turkey.
The main theme of the short article is that the party reneged on an earlier plan to nominate some Armenian candidates. (It is, after all, a Kurdish party.)
On the unusual role of independents in an otherwise party-list system with a very high threshold, see the discussion here of the previous election.
(In searching for that entry, I was surprised to see just how many plantings there are on Turkey. By a quick count, this is #11, with most of the others being from the 2007 elections and the adoption that year of a premier-presidential system.)
So the US government might actually shut down (and not for the first time). A question for all you comparative government types out there: are there other governments where this sort of thing has happened–or even can happen?
I think most democracies have constitutional provisions that make the equivalent of US “continuing resolutions” more or less automatic, creating a “reversion point” of the current spending levels, rather than zero, in the event of no agreement on a funding plan. Some others make the executive proposal the reversion. Obviously these provisions matter a great deal to the bargaining positions of the various actors.
There are, of course, countries that go government-less for long periods of time. Like Belgium. But of course, in these cases of parliamentary systems with “no government” there actually is no real shut down, or lack, of government. There simply is not one that has been formed since the most recent election (or cabinet resignation). There is a caretaker, and current programs remain as authorized.
So just how unusual is the US here? Is this another case of (dubious) American exceptionalism?
(I originally typed the subject of this post with an “i” in place of the “u.” Come to think of it, that might have been appropriate!)
Thailand’s mixed-member majoritarian electoral system is being modified–again.
According to the Thai paper, The Nation, the number of party lists seats is being increased from 100 to 125, and the multi-seat districts in the nominal tier are being replaced by all single-seat districts.
This would make the system more similar once again to the one used from 2001 to 2006, except that I assume the list tier will remain districted (because the article says nothing to suggest that is being changed). In the 2001-06 system, the list tier was nationwide. In 2007, smaller districts for the list tier were introduced, and the nominal tier reverted, partially, to mutli-seat districts using multiple nontransferable votes (MNTV, or “block vote”).
Maybe they can keep this new new system for a few elections.
Today’s Zaman reports that Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AK) is preparing its nomination process for the 12 June parliamentary election.
The party received 5,599 applications from would-be candidates, and will accept 1,650.
The 1,650 candidates will be picked based primarily on the results of surveys carried out in the candidates’ respective hometowns. The results will determine whether the hopefuls are nominated as deputy candidates in the approaching elections.
The party aims to have 60 elected women, which would be historic for Turkish parties. It also aims to have a diverse slate ethnically.
The candidate list of the AK Party will have members from all segments of society, including Alevis, Kurds, Syriacs, Roma, Circassians, Bosnians, Albanians and immigrants from Bulgaria and Greece. The AK Party plans to nominate over 20 Alevi candidates from provinces largely populated by Alevis, who are known to traditionally vote for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but the AK Party is hoping to appeal to Alevi voters in the upcoming elections.
Melkon Karaköse and Herman Balyan, both of Armenian descent, are expected to be on the AK Party’s list of parliamentary candidates. Karaköse has been a member of the AK Party for two years now. He is believed to be close to the party because of its support for the Law on Foundations, which enables foundations run by non-Muslim communities to own property and receive financial assistance from the state. The AK Party is also reportedly in close contact with Bedros ?irino?lu, head of the Surp P?rgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation, to nominate him for the parliamentary elections. It is not yet clear whether he will be nominated or not.
The AK Party also plans to nominate Syriac candidates in the elections. Turkey’s Syriac community lent strong support to the government-sponsored constitutional amendment package, which was voted on in a referendum in September of last year, saying the package would contribute to Turkey’s democratization efforts. Markus Ürek is strongly expected to be the AK Party’s Syriac candidate and will probably be nominated from Mardin or ??rnak, both of which have large Syriac populations.
There will be at least one Roma candidate. “The AK Party won the hearts of Turkey’s Roma when it launched a democratic initiative in 2009 to address problems faced by the Roma.”
The lists will also include some academics and show business and sports notables.
In case it was not obvious, I’ll add that the lists are closed and that the AK is approaching dominant-party status. In other words, it can essentially guarantee election of any candidates it wants in its parliamentary caucus.
The battle for Abidjan “appears to be reaching a climax” between the forces of de-facto president Laurent Gbagbo and the candidate most international actors agree defeated him in the 28 November runoff election, Alassane Ouattara.
It seems as if Ivorian politics has become reduced to just these two men and their followers. It is worth remembering that the first round of the presidential election, on 31 October, was very much a three-way affair.
In that election, Gbago won only 38%, Ouatara 32%, and a third candidate, Henri Konan Bédié, won 25.2%, according to official results. (There were 14 candidates in total, but no other candidate reached even 0.5%.)
Obviously supporters of Bédié split between the two, but went somewhat more for Ouattara. (Reported turnout figures were very similar in the two rounds.)
The polarization of the second round conjures up some of the worst fears of opponents of presidentialism for elections in divided societies. Ivory Coast really is divided three ways, not two, based on the first-round results.
It is not possible (at least for me) to say how things might have been different had there been a parliamentary system. Maybe the fragile political process was doomed to break down in any event. But had the first round instead been a parliamentary election to determine the composition of the government, neither Ouattara nor Gbagbo could not have claimed the mandate of a majority, following a runoff, in this divided society. Some coalition of the parties of two of these three men would have been a possible outcome.
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