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Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
Perspectives on electoral systems, constitutional design, and policy around the world, based primarily on my research interests.
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12 October 2011
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Judaism
Sukkot is here!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (0)
The Australian House of Representatives has passed the government’s carbon tax bill by a vote of 74-72. To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a B.F.D.
The measure still must pass the Senate, but there the Labor government and Greens combine for a large majority, so it is not in doubt. The House, where Labor has a minority and there is only one Green MP, was where the result was uncertain.
The Green leader, Bob Brown, has claimed that his party was right to block the previous Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme, because the now-passed measures offer “so much more” than the previous proposal.
On the other side, opposition leader Tony Abbot has made a “pledge in blood” to repeal it if his Coalition wins the next election. Brown, the Green, does not think the threat is credible. “We’ll be winning more lower house seats, and we’ll be winning a stronger hold in the Senate,” he predicted.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (13)
09 October 2011
Poland holds parliamentary elections today. The main contenders for the premiership are the Civic Platform of incumbent Donald Tusk and the Law and Justice Party of former PM Jaroslav Kaczynski.
As Euronews notes:
The latter party is interesting, not only due to its newness, but because it clearly is attempting to shake up the existing Polish political spectrum, through both its party platform and the profiles of its individual candidates. DW reports:
The party’s lists of candidates are also of interest:
Poland uses open-list PR,1 so the personal followings of candidates can be critical to the success of a party, especially a new one like Palikot’s. An article from this past July, when Palikot was still setting up his party, said that “Palikot also declared that figures from the worlds of sport and music were in line to run as candidates for his party.” He also said his lists would have equal numbers of men and women, as well as many young people. “It’s time to cure the Polish party system, which is ill and undemocratic,” he said in the interview.
While the Euronews story, quoted above, gets it right, other news items (and especially headlines) predictably fail to appreciate multiparty politics. For instance, Business Week’s “Poles may re-elect premier” and Reuters Canada’s “Polish PM seeks new reform mandate in election“.
Poland has a highly fragmented party system, so the leading party is quite likely to have only around a third of the votes and seats. This will necessitate post-election coalition bargaining. Plus, the presidency in Poland’s premier-presidential system is far from merely ceremonial.2 The presidency is held by Civic Platform, whose candidate Bronislaw Komorowski defeated Kaczynsni, 53-47, in a runoff in July, 2010. In the first round of that election, Komorowski won around 41% of the vote. Can his party come close to that level in an election more than one year after the presidential election? Typically, the answer in presidential and semi-presidential elections would be no: beyond the president’s “honeymoon” and with the presidency itself not at stake, we can expect the party to poll considerably lower. The fact that the party holds the presidency, however, makes it likely that it will also retain the premiership, following post-election bargaining. The only hope for Kaczinnski would be a decisive lead, plus a good showing for parties clearly more compatible with his party than with Komorowski’s. That seems unlikely.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (19)
07 October 2011
This is from Jeremiah 31:5.
Yes, Samaria. And, yes, this was written during the Babylonian exile, more than 2500 years ago. Not after 1967. Or 1948.
I point this out not because I believe that if the Hebrew scriptures say the land of the “West Bank” is ours, then it must be. In fact, it’s the other way around: the Hebrew scriptures say things like this because the writers were residents of the Land of Israel, including Samaria and Judea.
This important point is too often left out of the narrative about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Or it is left only to the religious Zionists, and other opponents of peace, to point out. It is not that Jewish “settlers” have to evacuate “occupied Palestinian land”, but that Jews must find a way to share with another people the very land on which our people was forged in ancient times.
I’m not a negotiator, or even a student of negotiations. But the narrative should be more like the one in the bold text than the one we normally see in the media.
Meanwhile, in these Yamim Noraim,3 a terrible crime was committed in Tuba-Zangaria, an Arab town in hills above Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). A suspect has been arrested.4 However, Judaism teaches that all of us are responsible as a community for the acts of any. This attack, during the Yamim Noraim, bring great shame to us all. What is an appropriate Teshuvah?5
Somehow we have to find a way to share the land. Mosques in Galilee and (Jewish) vineyards in Samaria are equally “legitimate”. May the coming year be the year we (at least start to) learn to live to enjoy them together.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (0)
It has been just over a week–and a week in which we have had some pretty good playoff games already–but I still can’t believe the incredible games we were treated to on the last day of the regular season.
Here’s hoping that this epic finish to the wild-card races in each league put to rest the plan, first broached just over a year ago–to add a fifth team to the postseason. Had such a format been in play this season, the collapses by Boston and Atlanta, and late surges by Tampa Bay and St. Louis, would have been meaningless. Each pair merely would have been slated for a new playoff round rather than a loser-goes-home sprint to the finish line of the 162-game season.
I would still advocate my “two divisions, two wild cards” format (which still has four, not five, teams advance). It would not have deprived us of the great season’s finish this year. In a year when the wild card team has the 4th best record, it would never deprive us of a race, under the current format, for that slot. However, in a year when the wild card has a better record than a division winner, which is a common occurrence, it can only enhance the races, by reducing the chance of a division winner with only the 5th or worse record in its league.
Two divisions, two wild cards. Not three divisions, two wild cards.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
06 October 2011
Two questions on the Ontario Green Party that I hope someone can answer.
1. What happened to their campaign this time? In 2007, they came pretty close to winning one riding (district).1 Apparently they have almost no chance this time, despite this being the year when the national Green Party got its first seat (in British Columbia).
2. Is the Green Party of Ontario really to the right of the Liberal Party (on the socio-economic dimension), as well as more socially conservative? That is what the CBC’s Ontario Votes-Vote Compass says.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
Update: In a comment (#7), I compare the result to the seat-vote equation estimate.
Three Canadian provinces have elections this week. Voting has already been completed in Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Manitoba, and is taking place today in Ontario, the largest province. Each elections shows–or is likely to show–the vagaries of FPTP.
(Newfoundland & Labrador votes next week, 11 October)
First, the election in PEI produced a lopsided majority–again. The incumbent Liberal party returned to office with 22 of the 27 seats, on a slightly reduced vote percentage (51.4% compared to 52.9% in 2007). This was a loss of one seat, with the Conservatives winning 5 (+1). For the second straight election, the Greens supplanted the NDP as the (distant) third party, with 4.3% (up from 3%).
The province has a history of lopsided results (as I have shown in graphs); the 2003 Liberal victory marked an alternation from a Conservative government, which itself had 23 seats. In the election before that, the Conservatives had 26 of the 27 seats. In 1996, the last time no party won a majority of the vote, the Conservatives, with 47.4% could manage “only” 18 seats (a 2/3 majority).
The seat-vote equation, which estimates seats under FPTP systems, based on jurisdiction-wide votes for the top three parties, the size of the assembly, and the number of voters, says that a party with around 51% of the votes, where the second party has around 40%, “should” be expected to win around 65% of the seats, rather than the 85% it won in this election.1
One key reason why PEI has such lopsided results is that its assembly is about half the size that the cube root rule says it “should be,” for its electorate. With around 80,000 voters turning out in recent elections, an assembly of 55 seats would be more appropriate than 27. The undersized assembly is why the seat-vote equation sees as “normal” for FPTP even a a party with just over 50% of the votes potentially getting almost two thirds of the seats. The geographic distribution of the vote in PEI, and its tendency towards big island-wide vote swings, only exacerbate an inherent tendency for big seat bonuses for the largest party.
In Manitoba‘s election, the incumbent NDP was returned to office with 37 of the 57 seats (64.9%) on just 46% of the votes. The NDP had won 36 seats in 2007 on 48% of the votes. So the party’s votes declined, but it seats increased. The second-place Conservatives substantially increased their votes, from 37.9% to 43.7%, yet saw their seats remain steady on 19. Such are the vagaries of FPTP. Liberals saw their votes fall from 12.4% to 7.5%, and dropped from 2 seats to 1.
The seat-vote equation would expect such a close race between the top two parties to have resulted in a seat split of about 30-27, instead of the actual 37-19.2
Manitoba has no record of particularly odd results, although in both 1990 and 1995 the second largest party won many more seats than it “should have” won. This is a pattern that can result in a plurality reversal (higher seat total for the second largest party in votes), if the election is close enough. In both of those elections, the Conservatives won narrow seat majorities on less than 43% of the votes, while the second-place NDP in 1995 had 40% of the seats despite only 33% of the votes.3 Evidently, in several recent elections the NDP’s geographic distribution of its votes has been such that it can translate them into many more seats than expected, whether it is the largest or runner-up party. I point this out simply because this week’s election was quite close in votes (46%-44%) yet produced an unexpectedly large seat bonus for the NDP. A plurality reversal may have been barely more than a couple of percentage points of the provincial vote from happening.
In today’s Ontario election, we see real three-party competition, with the third largest party, the NDP, polling at around a quarter of the votes. The incumbent Liberal party won 71 seats in the 2007 election, or 66.4% on just 42.2% of the vote. For most of this year, it was expected to lose, possibly by a wide margin, to the Conservatives. Yet as the official campaign got underway, the Liberals and NDP made gains in polls. For a while the Liberals and Conservatives looked headed for a near tie in seats, with neither winning a majority, and a potential plurality reversal. Now the Liberals could retain a majority of seats, depending on how some key ridings (districts) turn out.
The ThreeHundredEight final projection sees the Liberals winning 58 seats (54.2%) on 36.6% of the vote (to 33.3% for Conservatives). No party in Ontario4 has won a majority of seats on less than 40% of the votes since the NDP won 74 of a then 130-seat parliament on 37.6% of the vote in 1990–the only time the NDP has been the governing party. For the record, the seat-vote equation agrees that this projected vote split would produce a majority (about 56 seats); what it does not expect is the mere 29 seats the Liberals are expected to win, according to the ThreeHundredEight projection. The seat-vote equation expects such a close second place to be good for 44 or 45 seats, which would leave only 7 for the NDP. That the NDP could be projected to win 20 seats by ThreeHundredEight–which takes into account district-level information unlike the seat-vote equation5 –only shows how much the existing FPTP electoral system favors the NDP. Their huge manufactured majority in 1990 shows this pro-NDP bias is not new.6
Ontario’s three-party competition suggests it would be well served by a proportional system, such as the mixed-member system proposed by a citizens assembly, but turned down in a referendum the same day as the provincial parliamentary election in 2007.
Finally, both Manitoba and Ontario, like PEI, have undersized assemblies. For their population sizes, the cube root rule expects around 100 seats in Manitoba (instead of 57) and 200 in Ontario (instead of 107). Small assembly sizes only exacerbate the chances of anomalous results, although if one wanted seats distributions more reflective of votes distributions, a proportional electoral system would do the trick without needing to increase assembly size.
Past election data and estimates of seats come from the data set originally prepared in conjunction with the chapter, and updated since.
Error on year of NDP majority in original entry corrected.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (10)
02 October 2011
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