Roseanne Barr may be running for the Green Party nomination for US President.
But what I want to know is, will she sing the national anthem at the Green Party convention?
Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
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26 January 2012
Roseanne Barr may be running for the Green Party nomination for US President.
But what I want to know is, will she sing the national anthem at the Green Party convention?
In Finland’s presidential election this past weekend, the two leading candidates were Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party and Pekka Haavisto of the Green League.
Niinistö won 37.0%, Haavisto 18.8%. The third-place candidate was Paavo Väyrynen of the Centre Party (KESK), with 17.5%. The Social Democratic Party had an embarrassing result, with its candidate getting only 6.7%, behind the candidate of the True Finns (9.4%). See Robert Elgie’s blog for more.
The Social Democrats currently hold the presidency, having won 46.3% in the first round in the 2006 presidential election, and then 19.1% in the 2011 parliamentary election, so this year’s result is a spectacular fall for the party.
Both runoff candidates’ parties are in the current governing coalition, as are the Social Democrats.
Robert asks the same question I was wondering when I heard of the Finnish result on the news: Is this the first time a Green has qualified for a presidential runoff anywhere? At first I thought so, but then I remembered Colombia’s precedent.
In the run-up to the 2010 Colombian presidential election, polling suggested Antanas Mockus, the Green candidate would not only make the runoff, but might win it. Mockus did indeed finish second in the first round, with a higher percentage (21.5%) than Haavisto just won, but Juan Manuel Santos (46.6%) went on to win the runoff easily.
As Helsingin Sanomat notes, Haavisto would need the support of 71% of the 45% of voters who voted for a now-eliminated candidate in order to win. Despite some labor-union endorsements, that seems like a tall order.
Finland’s constitutional structure is permier-presidential, meaning that the cabinet depends on the exclusive confidence of the parliamentary majority. The presidency was reduced in power by a constitutional reform in 2000.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (8)
24 January 2012
Interfax reports that the opposition parties in Ukraine have agreed to a ‘one constituency – one candidate’ principle, under which they will not compete against one another in the single-seat districts.
Although the headline of the story says the parties have agreed to “form single list”, that may not be correct. They may still be presenting separate party lists for the seats allocated by proportional representation, although it is not clear.
The behavior in the single-seat constituencies is, however, precisely what we would anticipate under the MMM system that is being restored this year. Because (presumably) half the seats will be allocated to the plurality winner in each of (225) single-seat districts, and because the list-PR seats are not compensatory, parties that have some common interests would have a strong incentive to form a pre-electoral coalition. In doing so, they would be following the precedent of parties in Japan’s and Hungary’s MMM systems, which joined into two blocs to avoid the “spoiler” problem. (In those cases, the parties generally have presented separate party lists.)
For the 2006 and 2007 legislative elections, Ukraine used an exclusively closed-list PR system in one nationwide district. Prior to that, it had been MMM for 2002 and 1998. At that time, there was little coordination in the single-seat districts, many of which were won by non-party candidates. Now the party system is much more developed–aided in large part by the two PR elections.
The news story also indicates that the parties promise they would form a government together if they won a majority jointly. If they did so, it would lead to a potentially lengthy case of cohabitation, as the presidency is not up for election till 2015.
The legislative elections are set for 28 October.
(There are several earlier entries here on Ukraine’s elections and the former electoral system. Just click the country name at the top, and go a-scrolling.)
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
22 January 2012
In a comment in the previous thread on potential political reform in Israel, Ed raised the point that the country’s party-system fragmentation is at least as much a product of Israel’s social diversity as it is of the electoral system. It is a sensible argument, inasmuch as the party system has grown steadily more fragmented over time, while the most important features of the Knesset electoral system have been unchanged. (The 1996-2001 period of direct election, also discussed in the comments to the previous thread, was quite likely a contributor to fragmentation in the 1990s, but fragmentation has not declined since the return to a pure parliamentary system.)
In the past two decades, Israeli society has become more plural than ever, as immigrants from the former Soviet Union have created a new cleavage that has seen the rise of a significant new party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home1 ), led by current Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. And while there is no single party that represents the Sephardi/Mizrahi Jewish population (those whose disaporic roots are in other Middle Eastern countries), the Shas party, which draws a significant share of this community’s votes, has been growing since the early 1990s. So these developments seem to support the social-origins argument for Israeli party-system fragmentation over the electoral-system argument.
On the other hand, no clear social cleavage precipitated the creation of the Kadima Party, the launch of which by then-PM Ariel Sharon prior to the 2006 election was an even bigger contributor to the recent fragmentation than the growth of either Yisrael Beiteinu or Shas. And no new cleavage is clearly behind the stated intention of TV newsman Yair Lapid to form his own new party.2
Lkely none of these parties would have been as viable in the short run without such an extreme proportional system. Yet thanks to the seamlessness with which electoral support guarantees Knesset seats, Yisrael Beiteinu has grown from 2.6% of the vote in 1999 to 11.7% in 2009 and Kadima won 22% in its first election.3 Polls immediately suggested Lapid’s party could earn 15-20 seats, which would place it among the three largest parties in the country.
An extreme proportional system does not guarantee a proliferation of parties, but it makes proliferation feasible, whether due to new social groups mobilizing behind new parties or to existing public figures creating new electoral vehicles for themselves and their associates.
In fact, we can use a purely institutional theory to account for the degree of fragmentation facilitated by the electoral system. We can then attribute any deviation from the predicted value of fragmentation to other social or political factors. For example, in Predicting Party Sizes (Oxford University Press, 2007), Rein Taagepera derives the following equation:
Where N is the “effective” number of seat-winning parties, which is by now the standard measure of party-system fragmentation in the political science literature, M is the average district magnitude, and S is the assembly size. The product of the latter two indicators is what Taaepera defines as the Seat Product.
The equation is derived deductively. (That is, it is not a “post-dictive” regression equation, but rather is built as a “logical model” from sparse assumptions about how district magnitude and assembly size “should” affect the outcome variable of interest.)
The graph of this equation against the data (on p. 153 of the book) from two dozen long-term democracies shows a very strong fit to this model. However, it is important to note that the value of N that is plotted for any given country is its average value over several decades of elections, and not the snapshot of any one election, or a recent sequence of elections. Because Israel elects the Knesset from a single 120-seat district, M=S=120, and MS=14,400. Raising this to the exponent, 1/6, yields 4.93. The data point for Israel is almost precisely on line representing the equation reproduced above. Slightly below it, in fact.4
So the Seat Product equation tells us that Israel, known for decades as a diverse polity with numerous parties, has experienced just about the precise degree of party-system fragmentation that we should expect it to have, given its Seat Product. The implication of this finding is that changing the Seat Product, for instance by reducing the district magnitude, could be expected to reduce party-system fragmentation.
As noted above, Israeli fragmentation has been growing recently. In fact, the last three elections–those since the abolition of the brief phase of direct prime-ministerial elections–have had an average N=6.93. That is above the predicted value (which is close to the actual longer-term average, as noted) of 4.93. The recent elections exceed the Seat Product by just over 40%. This suggests that recent factors driving the formation of new parties are accounting for the extra “two parties” that the party system now “effectively” supports.5
What impact might electoral reform have? And here I mean serious electoral reform, but one that remains firmly within the proportional family. Not a small rise in the threshold, but also not a move to (or towards) a majoritarian system. Let’s suppose Israel adopted a system of districts, as a means to cut its Seat Product.
If the average magnitude of the districts were to be 30, which would still mean the average district in Israel would be around the size of the largest district used by some of Europe’s other fragmented party systems6, the resulting Seat Product would be 3,600. Plug that into the equation and you would have an estimate of 3.91–effectively one party less than Israel’s long-term average. However, if the current three-election average is 40% higher than the Seat Product prediction, we might realistically expect it to remain so even with a change to M=30. If so, then it might be at N=5.48–still a substantial reduction from where it is now.7
What if Israel went to an average magnitude of 10, which would result from carving the country into twelve electoral districts? Then we have a Seat Product of 1,440. This yields a prediction of N=3.36, and if Israel’s actual system remained 40% over, it might be around N=4.70.
Could the social divisions of Israel be so great that they would resist even a 90% reduction of the Seat Product, through the adoption of twelve districts? Perhaps, but if the effective number of seat-winning parties remained at its recent 6.93, that would be 106% over the predicted value. Only one country in Taagepera’s graph is anywhere near such an excess relative to prediction: Papua New Guinea. And I submit that PNG is a good deal more fragmented than Israel.8
Clearly social and political factors outside of the electoral system are responsible for the recent rise in Israeli party-system fragmentation. Yet the fact that the longer-term average for Israel–which it should be stressed already placed it among the more fragmented systems!–almost perfectly matches what Taagepera’s Seat Product predicts suggests that electoral reform could make an impact. Perhaps Israel has finally outgrown its 120-seat district, and it is time for a more modest proportional system.9
Propagation: Seeds & scions (27)
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn support from the Labor minority government in Australia over failure of the government to advance poker-machine reform. However, as noted in the Sydney Morning Herald, this development is not fatal to the government.
In announcing he was withdrawing support, Wilkie reaffirmed that this did not imply he would join the now-certain no-confidence motion to be brought by the opposition.
Wilkie would lose all influence if he voted to bring down the government, anyway. The tail can’t wag the dog if the dog is dead. And the Wilkie Wag [TM] now looks to be a weaker influence on the Labor party than that of the poker clubs’ lobby.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (26)
20 January 2012
Israel’s Minister of Transportation, Yisrael Katz, says, “We will replace the governing system before the upcoming elections”, according to Ynet.
Having spent some months in Israel in 2010, partly to work on political reform proposals, I have some idea how tough a nut this is. So I don’t necessarily expect anything big to happen in the 21 months or less leading up to the next general election.
Areas of reform would supposedly include raising the threshold for a party to enter the Knesset, limiting the number of ministers and deputies, increasing the number of votes required to for a vote of a no confidence, and adopting regional elections.
Some of these are good ideas, some bad. For example, raising the number of votes needed for the Knesset to dismiss a government would, by definition, mean replacing the parliamentary system of government. If more than 61 votes (out of 120) are required, then a government could lose the confidence of a majority–the situation that would lead to a change of government or early elections under parliamentarism–yet remain in office.
If government originates from the parliamentary majority, but is not dependent upon it for its survival, then the regime is what I call assembly-independent, not parliamentary. This is one of the “mixed” systems, in that it does not have either “fusion” of both origin and survival (parliamentarism), not “separation” of both (presidentialism), but rather mixes and matches. So I have to say that it would be quite good for political science if Israel would do this, as the country has already had the opposite combination–separation of origin but fusion of survival–during the phase of directly elected prime ministers from 1996 to 2001. I could imagine writing some interesting papers! But I doubt such a system is a good idea for Israel. It seems it would reduce, rather than increase, accountability.
Raising the threshold, which is currently 2%, seems like a good idea. However, as always, even a good idea has its downside. It just so happens that some of the parties that regularly reside right around the current threshold are the parties that attract mainly Arab votes. For instance, Balad has hovered between 1.9% and 2.5% since 1999, the United Arab List 2.1% and 3.4%, and Hadash 2.6% and 3.3%. A threshold that threatens these parties (individually, and it is not a certainty that they would merge) is problematic, to say the least. If one wanted to force one of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, United Torah Judaism, to direct its votes to someone else’s list, the threshold would need to be as high as 5% (UTJ has had 3.7-4.7% during this time, with some upward tendency). So raising the threshold is not so simple, after all. Besides, even with a 5% threshold, the problem that Israel has as many as five parties capable of getting 10% but not any of them would necessarily get much over 30% in any given election, would remain.
The Israeli system needs reform, but what sort of reforms is not a straightforward question.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (11)
15 January 2012
In elections Saturday, the Taiwanese president, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT), was reelected with 51.8% of the vote. Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came second with 45.6%, and James Soong of the People First Party won 2.8%.
The election is by plurality, so it was not especially close.
These were the first concurrent elections in Taiwan, the electoral cycle having been modified recently. As is to be expected with concurrent elections, the presidential and legislative votes were quite similar. The KMT-led alliance won 51.5% of the legislative votes, and will continue to control a majority of seats, with 67 of 113. (This is a decline from 85 at the previous, non-concurrent, election of 2008.)
These elections feature an unusual example of two parties competing in presidential elections but allied in concurrent legislative elections. Soong’s People First Party is part of the Pan Blue alliance, and whereas Sung himself managed only 2.8% of the vote, his party contributed 5.5% of the Pan Blue legislative vote.
Taiwan’s electoral system is mixed-member majoritarian (or parallel), with 79 district races decided by plurality, and 34 nationwide seats elected by proportional representation. People First won one single-seat contest, and 2 list seats. I assume the parties in alliance run common candidacies in the single-seat districts (and hence that the KMT stood down in the one contest won by the PFP, and the PFP did not contest many other districts), but that they run separate party lists. I hope someone can confirm that.
The only other case I know of where two parties competed in a presidential election but were allied in a concurrent legislative election would be Chile, 2005. At the time of the Chilean example of this sort of unusual alliance behavior, I remarked that the electoral rules of Chile made it advantageous for the parties to remain in their legislative alliance even after they chose to compete in the presidential race. In Chile, these rules are two-seat D’Hondt open lists. Taiwan’s MMM provides similar, if distinct, incentives to cooperate.
What is more surprising about the Taiwanese case is that by running separate presidential candidates, the alliance risked splitting the vote, given the use of plurality rule. In Chile, on the other hand, the presidency is elected through majority runoff. That Soong’s vote for president, where a split of the alliance vote was risky, was so much lower than his party’s legislative votes can be scored as a victory for Duverger.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (5)
12 January 2012
The presidency of Christian Wulff appears to be coming to an end. I found some of the language a little more elevated than one would expect from say discussion of the governor-gneral of Australia:
It does raise the question of how best to appoint and remove a ceremonial president. On the face of it comparing cases like Ireland where the president is popularly elected and Germany and Australia where the president is indirectly elected, indirect election does not always seem to work well. Since 1972 two governors-general of Australia (and 2 state governors) have been forced to leave early by public opinion. I am not aware of that happening with any Irish presidents.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (9)
06 January 2012
One of the intriguing stories to have emerged from Israeli politics early in 2012 is the possibility that Ehud Barak may have a slot on the Likud list in the next election.
Israel National News cites a story in Maariv.
If it happens, it would be Barak’s third party in about one year. He left Labor in order to remain Defense Minister when the party was about to vote to leave the coalition. In order to keep the ministership, he set up a new party called Independence. But polls suggest this new party may struggle to clear the threshold, so if he wants to remain as Defense Minister, he may need a lifeline from Likud.
It was quipped in Haaretz earlier that the rise of Labor in the polls after Barak’s departure was “the first instance of a leader rehabilitating a political party by leaving it.”
What impact he may have on Likud, if he joins its list, is a subject of much internal debate. For instance, “Is he really an electoral asset? I think he is an electoral liability,” Deputy PM Moshe Yaalon was recorded saying.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (2)
02 January 2012
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Central America & Caribbean; Cube Root Rule; Plurality; Seat-Vote Equation
Final results show the PNP won with 53.3% of the votes, to the JLP’s 46.6%. However, even as the final vote total was much closer than the preliminary result upon which this entry was based, the PNP picked up an additional seat. (Note that this gives it exactly two thirds of the seats.)
Thus the result was far from proportional, after all. In fact, it was even more majoritarian than a “typical” FPTP result would be with the given input parameters. The PNP’s Advantage Ratio is 1.25, whereas the Seat-Vote Equation would predict it to have been 1.14.
I am leaving the rest of this as originally crafted. The analysis of other elections stands, but that of 2011 would be altered by this new information. Thanks to Jon, in a comment, for the tip.
The election result itself saw an alternation in power from the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) to the Peoples National Party (PNP). Various news reports before the election had said the election was expected to be close. But it was not. The PNP won 41 seats to the JLP’s 22. Thus the JLP was defeated after a single term, which had been its first time in power since its defeat in 1989. (That was a two-term government, although its second term then was tainted by the PNP’s election boycott in 1983.)
The Jamaican case is of some interest to comparative elections specialists because it has an almost perfect two-party system. The two main parties combined for 99.87% of the vote in this election. The PNP won 61.3%.
Only once since 1959 has the third party in a Jamaican election won more than 1% of the vote (NDM, 5.2%, 1997). That makes Jamaica arguably a more “pure” two-party system than its very large neighbor to the north, and probably the biggest country to have a strict two-party system other than that really big one.
So, how did the system perform, in terms of the proportionality of translating votes into seats? We might expect a party winning over 60% of the vote in a first-past-the-post system to be significantly over-represented. The expectation is all the greater given the small size of the parliament, for the country’s population. With a population of around 2.7 million (just over a million voters), the Cube Root Rule would lead us to expect an assembly of more than double its actual size of 63.1 Smaller assemblies mean less proportionality, other things constant. They tend to produce very high disproportionality under FPTP.
Yet the PNP’s 41 seats represent 65.1% of the total, hardly at all greater than its 61.3% of the vote.
The Seat-Vote Equation suggests that a “normal” case of about one million voters, 63 seats, and the top two parties at 61% and 38% of the votes would result in a leading party winning 84% of the seats. That would have been 53 seats, to 10 for the JLP.
In the 2011 election, then, Jamaica’s electoral system produced an almost completely proportional result.
This is not a systemic tendency, or if it is, it is a very new one. In fact, the Advantage Ratio (percent votes divided by percent seats) for the largest party in Jamaica had never been below 1.10 before this election (when it dropped to 1.06). Something has been going on in Jamaican elections recently: Every election that was contested by both major parties since 1959 had seen an Advantage Ratio of at least 1.16. Every contested election from 1976 through 1997 saw this ratio be at least 1.33, peaking at 1.50 in 1997, when the PNP won a third consecutive term. Then suddenly it dropped to 1.12 in 2002, when the PNP won a fourth term, in a very close election (50.14% to 49.77%).2
From looking at the data on seat allocation, I can’t tell what has changed. But I can certainly tell that something has. For the third time in a row, the result has been unusually proportional for a FPTP system–and, in 2011, quite proportional for any electoral system.
The election was called early, as one was not due until the fall of 2012. The Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, in September replaced Bruce Golding (yes, another case of inter-electoral change of PM through “intra-party” mechanisms). Apparently, Holness felt he needed to go to the people for a new mandate. Apparently, it did not work out so well.
As an aside, how often do countries (especially in the Western world) hold elections in the final week of December? I imagine it must be very unusual.
As a further aside, in how many other countries is the more right-wing of the major parties called “Labour”? Or does the more left-wing party have “National” in its name?3
Propagation: Seeds & scions (6)
01 January 2012
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Travel
Let’s start the year of 2012 on Pope Gregory’s calendar with the amazing Alhambra.
I had wanted to visit this place since I was a child. I think my mother must have had a book about it that impressed me.
You know how you might dream of something for much of your life, and then you finally experience it, and it disappoints?
This was not one of those times.
The Alhambra was everything I had ever imagined. And so much more.
Speaking of more, yes, of course, there are many more photos…
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