21 January 2010

Please see MSS at Fruits and Votes

Just a reminder: My regular home is Fruits & Votes.

24 February 2008

Back to (mostly) normal

Thanks to the very good work of Steven, things are mostly back to normal at the main site.

I hope to transplant from here over to the main orchard. I probably will not move all the comments over–depends on how hard it proves to be. If you commented here and want it to show up there, please feel free to re-plant.

I will now cease blogging here--permanently, I hope. But if there should be further problems over there, now you know where to find me!

22 February 2008

Nepal: Closed list procedures

From eKantipur, in Nepal (full text):

PR system closed list procedures ready


KATHMANDU, Feb 11 - The Election Commission has outlined procedures for political parties regarding the naming of the closed list of candidates for 335 seats under the proportional electoral system for Constituent Assembly (CA) election.

It has also invited all 74 recognized political parties at a program on Monday for briefing on the procedures.

To contest election under the proportional electoral system, a party has to submit a list of at least 34 candidates. Of the 34 candidates, at least six candidates may be entered as common candidates representing different groups whereas a party contesting all the 335 seats could have 54 under the common group.

If any political party wants to submit the closed list to contest for minimum seats, it must ensure 11 seats for Madhesis, five for Dalits, 13 for janajatis, one for backward regions, 10 under 'others' and 17 for women. Whereas, if any party wants to contest all the 335 seats, it must ensure 104 seats for Madhesis, 44 for Dalits, 127 for indigenous groups, 13 for backwards regions, 101 for others and 168 for women.

As the number of candidates represent more than one group, the sum of the percentage of candidates of all groups appears to be more than one hundred. Citing this complication, the EC has defined the procedures saying that a candidate may belong to more than one group; for example, a dalit woman from Madhes would be counted under several categories -- woman, Madhesi, and dalit.

If any party wins at least 25 seats under the PR, it must allocate at least seven seats for Madhesis, three for Dalits, nine for indigenous groups, one for backward regions, seven for others and 12 for women. The proportion would increase with higher wins. The law has also provided ten percent elbow for the central executive committee of political parties.

In case the political party fails to comply with the requirements listed above, the EC will request the concerned party to make necessary amendments within seven days and meet the requirements specified in the legal provisions.

Posted on: 2008-02-10 21:36:59 (Server Time)

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A colleague just forwarded to me the first state-by-state list of elected-only delegates that I have seen.

If it is accurate, Obama has 53.55% and Clinton has 46.44%. So the proportional system is actually working, despite all the quirks in individual states. Obama's roughly 5-point vote lead has translated into just over a 7-point lead in delegates. That's an advantage ratio of 1.08, which is fairly typical of a moderate-magnitude PR system. Clinton's advantage ratio is slightly smaller (1.04).

In California, where Clinton won the vote 52%-42.3%, she won the delegates, 54.9% to 45.1%. So, Obama had a very slightly bigger boost (ratio of 1.067 compared to Clinton's 1.055). Not much, but consistent with expectations we had due to all the even-magnitude districts.

When I have a chance to look at other states, if anything anomalous comes out, you can be sure I will say so!

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Candidates on executive power

I had not seen this till tipped off by a comment today at a LGM thread, and most of these candidates are long forgotten. Still, it is important for the record: Candidates on executive power: a full spectrum—They assess use of signing statements (Boston Globe, 22 December, 2007). It includes links to the answers provided by each candidate.

Clinton, unsurprisingly, takes the Bush Lite position:

she might attach a so-called signing statement to a bill reserving a right to bypass "provisions that contradict the Constitution."

Bill Richardson gets it right, making the point I have made at F&V in the past.

if a president thinks that parts of a bill are unconstitutional, then "he should veto it," not issue a signing statement.

McCain also is forthright (though I do not necessarily believe him, especially given that he would face divided government):

As President, I won’t have signing statements. I will either sign or veto any legislation that comes across my desk.

Obama's position is less than reassuring:

"No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush administration has gone much further than that."

I don't see where in the Constitution the President is given the right to issue statements dissenting with provisions of bills he or she has signed into law. It is take it or leave it. All of it. In fact, off the top of my head, I am aware of two Constitutionally given rights--obligations, actually--to issue statements of any kind in an official constitutional capacity: (1) an annual message on the state of the union, and (2) an explanation for a veto. Richardson is right that if the President thinks a law infringes on his or her "constitutional prerogatives" that's precisely the occasion for a veto. In fact, the founders never appear to have countenanced a veto (let along a "I sign, but dissent") based on policy objections; protecting constitutional prerogatives was the basic intent of the veto.

Of course, I say this as someone who would abolish the veto altogether, other than to allow the president to delay implementation pending abstract review of constitutionality by a panel of independent judges. That is more or less what Madison originally proposed, and is the model found nowadays in several European constitutions.

By the way, Giuliani and Huckabee declined to answer the question on signing statements, and Romney thinks that the way Bush has used them is just dandy.

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The vote margin

I reported on the vote percentages of the candidates yesterday. But I did not mention the raw votes. I went back to the spreadsheet and took a closer look, and was genuinely surprised by what I saw.

At the conclusion of Super Tuesday, Obama's cumulative lead in votes was only 87,799. Now it is 911,657. Wow!

Could Clinton overcome it on the 4 March primaries in Texas and Ohio?

The biggest margin in raw votes anyone has had in this campaign in a state so far is in Illinois, where Obama beat Clinton by over 600,000. Even in New York, a bigger state and one won by their Senator, the margin was only 305,000. In California--vastly larger than Texas--her margin, which was over 9 percentage points, amounted to 398,000 votes.

No, I don't think she can overcome this lead. It's over. At least unless the bionic delegates weigh in for her. Or something truly tectonic happens.

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Pakistan--more elections comparisons

According to a table of seat results at Wikipedia,* the "victory" for the PPP in 2008 was a bit worse a showing--in seats--than it had in 1988 and 1993, the two elections that resulted in Benazir Bhutto's premierships. Out of 207 total seats in these elections, her party won 93 in 1988 and 89 in 1993. That's 45% and 43% of seats, respectively, compared to 32% this time.

Sharif's party won 137 in 1997,** the election that led to his premiership, which was interrupted by Musharraf's coup in 1999.

* Never my favorite source, but will have to do for now.

** Compared to 68 of 272 now.


Pakistan 2002 comparison

One more note on Pakistan. If the PML(Q) of the 2008 elections can be considered more or less the same as the PML(Q) that ran in the 2002 elections under military rule, it actually did about as well--in votes--in these elections as it did under less competitive conditions then: 25.7% in 2002, 24.0% in 2008.

In 2002, given different district-level competitive dynamics, this quarter of the vote translated into a quarter of the seats, compared to the 14% it got in 2008.

With the "democratic" parties fully participating again, voter participation was higher in 2008, but not dramatically so: about 31 million, compared to 29.6 in 2002.

So, with a slightly higher turnout Musharraf's party experienced almost perfect stasis in the vote share. It did, however, suffer a substantial loss of seats.


Pakistan election results

From Pakistan News Room, by way of Adam Carr, the preliminary results from the recent Pakistani parliamentary election are rather typical of how FPTP works in a politically fragmented context.

The big "victory" by the PPP (Bhutto's party) wasn't much of a victory. It was the largest party in votes, but with under one third. It won more than 8 percentage points more than its closest challenger, the PML(Q), which is Musharraf's party (which supposedly suffered a big "defeat"; perhaps it did, but being second in votes in a fragmented field is not what I was expecting, based on the media spin).

The PPP was slightly under-represented (32% of the seats on 32.7% of the votes), which is not what one normally expects of parties that earn "big victories" under FPTP. The second largest party by votes (i.e, the PML(Q)) was indeed a big loser in seats (14.3% on 24% of the votes).

The third largest party in votes was the other party noted in the media to have done so "well." In seats, that is true. It was somewhat over-represented: 25% of the seats on 20.6% of the votes.

The main Islamist party, MMA, indeed did quite badly: 4 seats (1.47%) on 1.3% of the vote. Its main and more successful rival in the Northwest was the Awami National Party (3.7% of seats on 1.9% of votes, showing the advantage of regional concentration under FPTP).

The PPP was the only party to win seats in all states, according to Manan Ahmed, and of course, its being the more national party in such a fragmented system likely explains why it did not get the over-representation normally expected by the largest party under FPTP (votes wasted by running in districts it lost outside its strongholds). Still, for "the only national party in the country," and supposedly benefiting from "the after-shocks of Benazir Bhutto's assassination" (Ahmed's words), less than a third of the votes/seats is pretty bad. As Ahmed notes, the result is also a "reflection of how restrictive the ethnic or regional based agendas the rest of the parties" are.

Back to the election results. About 10% of the seats were won by independents, and the fourth largest party by seats, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, had 19 seats (about 7%, on 7.6% of the votes). Four parties not mentioned thus far had 1 to 4 seats each, and another 10 seats are shown by Carr as "Undeclared or postponed." There will also be another 60 seats (i.e., in addition to the 272 FPTP seats) "allocated to women members of the various parties, in proportion to the votes received."

Other than the reversal of the second and third-place parties and the substantial over-representation of Awami, the result is fairly proportional to votes cast, which is not quite as odd as it sounds for FPTP, given the regional fragmentation. I have not seen district-level results, but one can expect that many seats were either dominated by one party or, in the case of contested seats, many likely were won with less than 50%. Such bimodal distributions of district-level outcomes are also rather common under regionally fragmented FPTP. If anyone has seen the detailed results and can confirm or correct that presumption for this election, please do so in the comments.

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Reality sinks in?

You know, no matter what happens in this contest – and I am honored to be here with Barack Obama – whatever happens, we’re going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we’ll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that’s what this election should be about.

--Hillary Clinton

Just happy to be here, sharing the stage with history.

Source: "Clinton holds back in high-stakes debate," Politico, 22 Feb.

21 February 2008

Popular vote update through 19 February contests

Through the primaries and caucuses of 19 February, the cumulative popular-vote standings of the candidates are as follows.

49.44 Obama
44.90 Clinton
02.95 Edwards
00.33 Kucinich
00.12 Gravel
02.26 others
(Effective number = 2.24)

39.86 McCain
29.45 Romney
20.85 Huckabee
04.63 Paul
05.20 others
(Effective number = 3.40)

Yes, that is right: Obama is closing in on a majority of the popular vote and now leads Clinton by nearly five percentage points. So much for his winning streak resting on small states! Seems there are some Obama voters in the states Clinton is "winning," too. Presumably they also count. Through Super Tuesday (5 Feb.) it was Clinton 46.55, Obama 47.08.

And that's also right: McCain has yet to crack 40% of Republicans, and Huckabee's percentage continues to grow. Through Super Tuesday it was McCain 38.32, Romney 32.56, Huckabee 18.99. Since Romney dropped out, Huckabee's vote percentage has grown more than McCain's.

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Will Obama win Texas? Ohio?

Texas is supposed to be one of Clinton's "firewall" states. (The list of states so-designated is getting rather long.) There is surprisingly little polling in Texas, but the Pollster.com compilation of the trends shows a truly remarkable surge for Obama since 'Super Tuesday.'

The average of six polls going back to 11 Feb. has Clinton at 48.8 and Obama at 43.5. Only one of them puts Obama ahead (ARG, 14 Feb, 48-42), and one has Clinton up, 54-38 (Rasmussen, same date). These can't both be right. The two most recent polls have Clinton up, 50-45 and 50-48. Hard to interpret, but also hard to overlook the dramatic upward trend since early February (see the link above).

Meanwhile, there is nothing nearly so dramatic in Ohio. Obama's trend is steeper than Clinton's, but both are gaining over time, and Clinton's lead remains large in all polls. Why would Ohio be less sensitive to the trends elsewhere, including Texas? Or maybe we just do not know the trend: There is even less recent polling in Ohio than in Texas, and the most recent one (the only one after Potomac: Survey USA, 17-18 Feb.) has Clinton's lead at 9 points, whereas the closest of the earlier polls shows a 14-point lead for her.

Are the firewalls burning? Hard to tell.

19 February 2008


Well, when it rains it pours.

Can't edit that previous post ("people vs. the powerful").

Just testing here to see if I can post a new one.

Pakistan's election

Various news headlines today are trumpeting the "defeat' of Musharraf's party in Pakistan. Let's be clear here: Musharraf's power has never rested on the ballot box and never will. Despite his claims leading up to the election, there was never any serious chance his party would "win." Nor is his position in serious jeopardy. He was just reelected to the presidency--which has a fixed term and is not subject to parliamentary confidence--by the parliament elected under even less free conditions in 2002.

Reports also speak of the parties of Bhutto (PPP) and Sharif (the PM Musharraf overthrew in 1999) doing well. But what does that mean? Will the old rival parties work together? They might, but let's wait and see if they do, and what that would mean. Almost certainly it won't mean the 2/3 votes in parliament for impeachment.

No, these elections are not about Musharraf and whether he stays or goes. He stays. They are about creating a weak, fragmented parliament in which Musharaff's party will be able to play the divisions among the "democratic" parties against each other.

I have also heard that the Islamists might not have done well. But I'd expect the final results to show they have done just well enough to remind the US government of what a scary place Pakistan is and why the general-turned-president is so indispensable.

Yeah, this is a cynical view of the elections. I certainly am not expert in Pakistani politics, but I doubt my cynicism is misplaced.


Those populist Democrats have me raging with anger!

Oh, if only a candidate would not be branded a 'populist' every time she or he suggests that the solution to ordinary people's economic woes is not more markets, more orthodoxy...

As if the cautious oh-so-slightly left-of-right approach being advocated by Obama and Clinton were the reincarnation of Peron.

Of course, Edwards was an angry populist (or is that redundant?).

Then again, the first-linked story tells us the voters are angry. So maybe their politicians should be just a little angry, too. Why leave anger to the populists? Al Gore (whose "people vs. the powerful" seemed oh so populist in its day but so timid now--so says the WaPo at the second link) once called himself a "raging moderate." After all, his father had been way too much of an "absolutist."

So, careful there, Barack and Hillary. This populism, anger thing is dangerous. I know because I keep reading it in the liberal media (or is that redundant?).

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18 February 2008

Why I don't observe President's Day

The calendar here in the United States of America says that today is President's Day. I don't observe this as a holiday. Some reasons...

1. We don't have a Representatives' Day, a Senators' Day, or a Justices' Day, nor (at least in my state) is there a Governor's Day. Why, in a federal system of co-equal institutions of government, should the federal executive alone be accorded a Day?

2. Parliamentary systems don't, to my knowledge, have a Prime Minister's Day. What is so special about a presidential head of government? (Many monarchies have a royal day of some sort, but our head of state is manifestly not (supposed to be) a monarch, the evident wishes of Hamilton and Bush notwithstanding.)

3. The existence of this holiday, and its name, are sops to business interests and Southern separatists. Business interests wanted a single day, always a weekend extender, instead of one or two (we'll get to the two) that "move," relative to the weekend, thereby occasionally creating an interrupted business week or an excuse for a four-day holiday. Of course, the original holiday here was Washington's Birthday, 22 February. Southern separatists wanted to avoid any mention of a Lincoln's Birthday holiday, which is, of course, still recognized separately by some states. (Those states that recognize both thus implicitly have two days for Lincoln, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the last great Republican President: one for the man himself, plus his share of the generic President's Day; Washington loses out here, relatively speaking.)

4. President's Day has become little more than an excuse for sales and other commercialization, though come to think of it, that makes it a typical American holiday--nothing "holy" (as in distinct, different from the other days) in there. Some school districts in California now "observe" an entire week, rather than have two separate holidays for Lincoln and Washington/others. In some districts, it has come to be known as Ski Week. So much for honoring our Presidents (or dishonoring them, as the case may be).

So, today I will not be observing President's Day. In fact, I will be non-observing it by working on a paper. And not the paper I have been working on about presidential elections, but rather one on legislators (even if they are legislators in a presidential democracy). I do, however, want to wish people a belated holy observance of Lincoln's Birthday (Tuesday of last week)--a day to reflect on the judicious application of leadership and respect for national integrity and citizenship at a time of genuine national crisis (and also a time to note that mere-plurality-winning presidents aren't necessarily a bad thing). And to wish everyone a wonderful three-day weekend coming up, on which to remember a president worthy of his reputation for wartime heroism. Recommended reading for observing the holiday: Washington's Farewell Address, and also the Farewell Address* of another president who ascended to the office by virtue of his war record: Dwight Eisenhower. Learn, think, reflect, and rest during your observance of great presidents past.**

* Clearly, a key mark presidential greatness is saying goodbye.

** Somehow, these days, almost all of the presidents past seem great.

Inspired by the "Why I don't observe..." series at Mah Rabu.

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17 February 2008

Hello (again)

If you came here from the announcement posted at the regular page or from the feed, let me assure you that all is well. With me. But not with the site. I do not know what went wrong. My higher technical skilled person is working on it. (He is know to many of us as Steven Taylor, and he is a true mensch for all he is doing to try to fix the problem.)

Down this page, there are a couple of weather-related posts (make that plantings, just to show things are more normal than they appear), one on spring training, and then the only really substantive item I have done since the troubles at the virtual orchard.

In the planting entitled "Temporary" I give an update of the presidential pre-candidates' votes. It goes only through Super Tuesday, which is pretty much ancient history now. I hope to update with more recent primaries shortly, though now I might as well wait until after the Cheese and Pineapple Primaries of the coming week.