John Carey on presidentialism

John Carey offers a series of reflections on the debate over presidentialism and democracy, which was originally sparked by Juan Linz‘s famous article, “The Perils of Presidentialism”, in the late 1980s.

John reviews the big issues, and offers some valuable analysis of regime-performance data. Highly recommended. It is in three parts at Presidential Power; the second part is linked at the end of the first, and so on.

I suppose most readers of this blog (or that one) know that John Carey and I are authors of Presidents and Assemblies (Cambridge University Press, 1992).

Slovenia election and the power of a “weak” president

The blog, Presidential Power, has a good discussion of the recent parliamentary election in Slovenia, and how the formally quite “weak” president played a role in the timing of the election.

Some background on the Slovenian ruling party’s internal splits, which triggered the whole chain of events, can be found in an earlier F&V post authored by JD.

Time from last votes cast to official results?

[It took me a few days to notice that the subject line did not say what I meant it to say. Fixed now.]

I wonder if my readers can enlighten me on what the norm is for the time between the close of polls and the release of full preliminary official results. I am particularly curious about developing countries and new democracies, and especially those with large and difficult territorial expanse.

I ask because the long gap in Indonesia–apparently it will be about two weeks before official results are announced–is surely a contributing factor in the bubbling crisis over dual claims of victory in the 9 July presidential election. The “quick counts” (samplings of polling-place counts) point to a victory by Joko Widodo (Jokowi)–or at least the credible ones do.

Even for a country as vast as Indonesia, two weeks seems like an unnecessarily long time for a result in the current age, especially when there is only one office on the ballot. I can understand the long delay in a place of ongoing conflict and severe underdevelopment of infrastructure, such as Afghanistan, which had its presidential runoff on 14 June but has no full results yet. And I further understand that systems of paper ballots take longer than electronic voting, such as India and Brazil. But Colombia produces same-evening results on a paper-ballot system with rugged terrain (even if mostly mainland, unlike Indonesia) and with significant conflict zones. It seems Indonesia could do better–and, to mitigate crises over conflicting claims–needs to do better.

But what is the norm?

Indonesia’s presidential election: Divided government?

Indonesia’s presidential election was earlier today–or yesterday, depending on where in the world you are.

Both candidates are claiming victory, but contacts I have who follow Indonesia tend to put more credibility in the claims of Jakarta governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Legislative elections were held in April, under Indonesia’s “counterhoneymoon” cycle. In those elections, the largest party emerged with 19.0% of the votes and 109 of the 560 seats (19.5%). That was Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P), led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the party that nominated Jokowi. In second place was Golkar, with less than 15% of votes and 91 seats (16.3%). Golkar was the ruling party under the Suharto dictatorship, and is part of the coalition backing Jokowi’s rival, ex-general Prabowo Subianto. Prabowo’s own party is the Great Indonesia Movement, which won 73 seats in April (13%, on 11.8% of votes).

Indonesian law states that only parties with 20% of seats or 25% of the votes in the preceding legislative election may nominate candidates for the presidency; the PDI-P was just short. Thus pre-election coalitions were necessary to nominate presidential/vice-presidential tickets; according to the Wikipedia entry:

The coalition supporting Prabowo/Hatta includes Gerindra [Great Indonesia Movement], PPP, PKS, Golkar, PAN, and Demokrat. The coalition supporting Jokowi/JK includes PDI-P, PKB, NasDem and Hanura.

It appears that the Probowo coalition has at least 314 seats (56%), while Jokowi’s has 191 (34%). If Jokowi has won, Indonesia’s elections might be said to have produced divided government, in the sense that the coalition backing the presidential loser has a majority of legislative seats. However, such a conclusion exaggerates the importance of these coalitions. Indeed, the way I normally code a case of divided government would require either a single party or pre-electoral coalition formed for the legislative elections to have won a majority of seats. Given Indonesia’s electoral cycle, the coalitions formed only between the legislative and executive elections, and can be considered expedients dictated by electoral law. One can expect various parties in the Probowo alliance to defect and back the winner, in exchange for policy concessions, but more importantly for patronage.

One indicator of how relatively unimportant party lines are in predicting Indonesian political behavior is that Prabowo was the vice presidential candidate in 2009 on the ticket headed by Sukarnoputri.

Green contamination

Political scientists who study mixed-member systems often refer to a concept of “contamination”.* One can find somewhat different meanings of the term in different works, but the most common conceptualization is the entry of candidates in nominal-tier districts where they can’t realistically win, but where their presence may help boost the list. The notion of “contamination” assumes that we should see a reduction towards two significant parties in the single-seat district, but this reduction may be retarded because of smaller parties’ vote-seeking for their party lists. The reasoning goes: the party may fail to mobilize supporters for its list if it is seen to have abandoned the district by not running a candidate.

Is the concept realistic? Scholarly literature is mixed (so to speak). But sometimes politicians act as though they believed political scientists. The Green Party in New Zealand seems to believe in contamination. (That was a fun sentence to write!)

First-term Green MP Holly Walker, elected form the list (like all Green MPs), is withdrawing her candidacy, according to the NZ Herald. Her list candidacy, that is. The article further notes,

Ms Walker, who will still contest the Hutt South seat in order to help the Greens’ party vote, said she was announcing the decision with “real sadness”.

So, even though she won’t be returning to parliament, her electorate campaign remains active, in order to attract votes to the list.

The NZ Green Party is an especially tough test for the contamination thesis, because Green voters in recent elections have shown a very strong tendency to split their tickets, strategically voting for the local Labour candidate. Ticket-splitting runs against the grain of the contamination thesis, which several authors have said is valid only to the extent that voters are generally reluctant to split their tickets.

However, the basic notion of contamination, as I articulated it above, is that the party can’t be seen to have abandoned the district. To do so would reduce their ability to get list votes. The logic does not actually require that voters vote for the district candidate. It only requires that the party’s putting a human face on the list by nominating a candidate in the district helps the party’s list vote. That seems to be precisely what the Greens and Walker are counting on.

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* Other authors call it “spillover”. A short bibliography on the topic (and I should note that not all these authors claim to find such an effect, and some specifically argue against it):

Cox, Karen E., & Schoppa, Leonard J. (2002). “Interaction effects in mixed-member electoral systems: Theory and evidence from Germany, Japan, and Italy.” Comparative Political Studies, 35, 1027-1053.

Crisp, Brian F., Joshua D. Potter, and John J. W. Lee. 2012. “Entry and Coordination in Mixed-Member Systems: A Controlled Comparison Testing the Contamination Hypothesis.” The Journal of Politics 74 (02): 571–583.

Ferrara, Federico, & Herron, Erik S. (2005). “Going it alone? Strategic entry under mixed electoral rules.” American Journal of Political Science, 49, 16-31.

Herron, Erik S., and Misa Nishikawa. 2001. “Contamination Effects and the Number of Parties in Mixed-Superposition Electoral Systems.” Electoral Studies 20(1): 63– 86.

Karp, Jeffrey A. 2009. “Candidate effects and spill-over in mixed systems: Evidence from New Zealand.” Electoral Studies 28(1): 41–50.

Ellis S. Krauss, Kuniaki Nemoto and Robert Pekkanen, “Reverse Contamination: Burning and Building Bridges in Mixed Member Systems,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 45, No. 6 (June 2012), pp. 747-77.

Moser, Robert G., and Ethan Scheiner. Electoral Systems and Political Context. Cambridge, 2012.

More on the Internet-Mana alliance

Following up on earlier points*, TVNZ has some interesting information on the joint party list being presented by the Mana Party and the Internet Party for this September’s general election in New Zealand.

Mana has the first, third and fourth positions on the list. Ms Harre has the second spot, while the fifth and sixth spots will also be held by Internet Party members. Subsequent places on the list will be assigned on an alternating basis.

But even more interesting, perhaps is that “Both the Internet and Mana parties will contest electorate seats with their own candidates and policies.”

They will not, apparently, have electorate candidates against each other. But they retain their separate identities in the nominal tier. This is a very unusual alliance!

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* Post, and comment.

Presidentialization in Turkey

As previously discussed at F&V, Turkey has made the constitutional change from parliamentary to premier-presidential system. The country’s first-ever direct election of the presidency is on 10 August (first round).

A headline today is a nice summary of the sort of things presidentialization can do to political parties: “Turkey’s secular opposition endorses devout Muslim for president“.

The two parties in question, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), would be unlikely to have nominated for prime minister someone like Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, described as “devout Muslim tasked with winning votes from the AKP’s traditionally pious electorate”. They also would have been somewhat unlikely to forge a pre-electoral coalition. However, given the need to appeal to the median voter against the incumbent Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be seeking to move to the directly elected presidency, the opposition parties have devised a new vote-seeking strategy.

As the news item also makes clear, not everyone in the parties is happy about it. Yes, I have seen this sort of thing before…