Stages and rounds

Press coverage of this week’s voting in Egypt has tended to refer to the events as the “second round” of voting.

This is misleading. The term to use when a country (or other jurisdiction) sees some districts vote on one date and others vote on a later date should be “stage” not “round”. The use of “stage” is standard in India, a country where both the federal and state electoral processes take place in different clusters of districts on different dates.

The terminology being widely used for Egypt is all the more confusing when each stage has two rounds! Many districts in Egypt will not have a winner in the initial count of votes, due to rules requiring a majority. There must be a runoff in such districts. This is the true meaning of “second round”.

One might expect that Indian journalists would get this right, but I heard the Indian co-host of BBC’s World Briefing the other day refer to “the second round of voting in Egypt”, notwithstanding that she was actually referring to the first round of the second stage. Soon we will have the second round of the second stage, to be followed by the first round of the third stage…

Really, is this so difficult to get straight?

4 thoughts on “Stages and rounds

  1. Why would you expect that Indian journalists would get this right? They don’t have a two-round system but they DO have many multi-stage elections which the English text of the Elections Commission of India site calls “1st phase, 2nd phase” etc. But since Indian residents tend to use a variety of English translations for whatever Hindi or other word they are translating, “round” would be just as good as “phase,” eh?

  2. Somewhere in the days before the first ROUND of the Egyptian presidential election, I heard some correspondent say that the elections was going to be conducted in two stages.

    For the presidential election, there is only one stage (or phase) for each round. Sigh.

    However, each one-stage round is a two-day affair.

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