April 2014: lots of elections

April is a good month for election-watchers.

Today Hungary votes for the first time since the constitutional and electoral reforms imposed by Fidesz following the two-thirds majority granted it by the country’s mixed-member very-unproportional electoral system.

Monday is the general provincial (or “national”?) election in Quebec. The final ThreeHundredEight.com projection shows the Liberals most likely will win a majority, although the estimated range includes the possibility of a minority government. The Parti Quebecois (PQ) can be said confidently to be in second place, according to the projection, while the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) has closed in on the PQ in votes. The PQ’s lead over the the third place CAQ is now only around five percentage points, but it is projected to get only one fifth as many seats as the PQ. With projected votes breakdown of 39.0-27.6-22.7, but seats of 69-45-9, it is quite a “non-Duvergerian” result in the votes, but fairly Duvergerian in seats. The mechanical effect of FPTP will make the legislative party system much more two-party than the votes, by significantly over-representing both of the larger parties. The Liberals and PQ have been targeting ridings (districts) held by the CAQ, but it may not be working. There are indications that the CAQ is the party with the momentum, though getting into second place in votes is both unlikely and would not get them out of third place in seats. The fourth party, Quebec Solidaire, appears to have two safe seats despite only 8.4% of the projected votes; it is great to be small party under FPTP if your supporters conveniently concentrate their places of residence! (There were two earlier F&V posts about this election campaign: on by JD on the pro-PQ bias, and one by me on the surprising mid-campaign swing against the PQ.)

Also coming right up are general elections in two of the world’s largest democracies. Indonesia’s legislative elections are this Wednesday, 9 April. Indonesia uses open-list PR,* and is the world’s largest democracy to use any kind of PR (just ahead of Brazil, which also uses open lists, and votes later this year). Indonesia uses a counterhoneymmon electoral cycle, with the presidential election coming on 9 July.

Also this week marks the beginning of the biggest voting exercise of them all, India. The general election will take place in nine phases,** starting 7 April and ending 12 May (see map with schedule). Results will be declared in mid-May. Indications from polls are that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of various state-based parties will win, and that it will be the worst outcome ever for the Indian National Congress and its ruling United Progressive Alliance. The NDA likely will be short of a majority, however, and will need outside support from other state-based parties that have joined neither alliance for the election. BJP leader Narendra Modi, current Gujarat state Chief Minister, is the likely Prime Minister. However, if the NDA is short of a majority, it can’t be ruled out that the support parties could demand a different PM, given what a lightning rod Modi is for communal tension.

* And SNTV in the largely powerless second chamber, also being elected Wednesday.

** Or “stages”. Please don’t call them rounds.

21 thoughts on “April 2014: lots of elections

  1. Concerning Hungary, I should note that the electoral system was changed back in 2011 – as previously discussed on this very blog right here – and as widely anticipated it’s now even less proportional than before: specifically, the already-weak seat compensation mechanism has been diluted to the point it’s just a marginal improvement over a pure parallel i.e. MMM system, with the dilution being largely induced by allowing part of the votes obtained by a party’s winning constituency candidates – the number of votes obtained by the second-placed constituency candidate, plus one – to be added to its national list total. Now, I’ll concede the nationwide distribution of list seats does eliminate the distortions present under the old county-level party list PR mechanism, but the counter-balancing effect on that account is slight at best.

    As noted on my website’s Hungary page, the country’s National Election Office has live 2014 election results in Hungarian and English, with the Hungarian-language page having a lot more information than its English-language counterpart, including the detailed distribution of national list seats.

    Finally, it looks like LMP might just make it back to the National Assembly: it’s been gradually inching towards the five percent threshold all afternoon long, and with 71.86% of the vote tallied, it now stands at 4.91%. However, with or without LMP in, Fidesz looks set to retain its two-thirds parliamentary super-majority.

    • With just over eighty-four percent of the vote tallied in today’s election in Hungary, LMP has crossed the five percent threshold and would return to the National Assembly with five seats; however, as previously anticipated, Fidesz would still retain a two-thirds super-majority, but just barely, with 133 of 199 seats so far.

      Not surprisingly, the reduction of the ratio of list seats to single-member district seats has also worked in favor of Fidesz: had the old 210:176 seat ratio been retained under a reduced legislature, there would be 126 national list seats (up from the current 93), and Fidesz would fall just short of a two-thirds majority, with 146 of 232 National Assembly seats.

      By the way, politics.hu is blogging today’s election live here.

      Finally, Costa Rica is also going to the polls today, for a presidential runoff vote: even though the PLN candidate stopped campaigning nearly two months ago, Costa Rican election law apparently doesn’t allow presidential runoff candidates to withdraw from the race, and as such his name still appears on the ballot.

      • Regarding Costa Rica’s anticlimactic runoff, I wonder why more countries don’t have a rule like France, where if one eligible candidate withdraws from the presidential runoff, the next candidate becomes eligible. Probably Jose Villalta, with 17.5% in the first round, also had no real chance of defeating Solis. Somebody, however, should have had the chance to try.

    • As I understood it, the number of votes from the winning party that enters the ‘compensatory’ tier is the number of votes obtained by the first-placed constituency candidate MINUS those won by the second-placed constituency candidate, plus one. If I am not mistaken this difference was also included in Italy’s ‘scorporo’ MMM.

      • jdmussel, you understood right, and that’s the way it’s described on my website; unfortunately the omission of a single word on my previous comment – “excluding” ahead of “the number of votes” – made it read like it was the other way around. Sad irony, as I had been precisely trying to avoid that from happening, yet ended up doing it. At any rate, the procedure is indeed similar to that used in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies elections between 1993 and 2001, as I had commented a couple years ago on the previous 2011 entry about the new system.

        As it happens, right now neither the reduction in the proportion of PR seats nor the inclusion of part of the votes cast for winning candidates in the distribution of national list mandates would have been enough to let Fidesz narrowly attain a two-thirds parliamentary majority. Instead, it’s the postal vote – which is currently going 95.4% for Fidesz – what’s making the difference: without it the ruling party would lose one national list seat and fall below two-thirds in the National Assembly.

        To be certain, Fidesz’s share of the postal vote is an exceptionally high figure, but I’ll leave it at that for the time being.

  2. Perhaps due to the fact that – unlike in France – presidential runoffs in Costa Rica have been until now a rare event, largely because (again, very much unlike in France) until fairly recent times the country had a highly competitive two-party system, with the remaining parties trailing far behind in the low single digits. Under these circumstances, the withdrawal of a major party candidate was an utterly unthinkable development, and in all likelihood Costa Rican authorities were of an “it-can’t-happen-here” mindset on that matter, and thus utterly disinclined to change the system.

    A Solis-Villalta runoff would have made for a very interesting event (and one with potential ramifications further down the road), even though I fully agree that Solis would have easily defeated Villalta. In fact, come to think of it I wonder if under such circumstances Araya would have withdrawn (or to be more accurate, ceased campaigning) in the first place.

    • As expected, PAC’s Luis Guillermo Solis was elected President of Costa Rica by a landslide over non-campaigning adversary Johnny Araya of the ruling PLN. The valid vote ratio was almost exactly 7:2 for Solis, and it looks like Araya voters were essentially PLN diehards: at the provincial level, the correlation of Araya’s first round and runoff valid vote percentages stands at 0.97; the figure drops slightly among registered voters but still runs high at 0.94.

      Voter turnout. which dropped just below fifty-seven percent in the runoff, hit a record low for Costa Rica but was not that bad if one considers the vote had become for all purposes a one-man race.

      • I can’t speak for other parts of the world, but in the case of Latin America, with its long history of troubled constitutional/election processes, I could anticipate concerns about such a provision lending itself to manipulation (not as in giving way to fraud per se but as in allowing certain parties or individuals to subtly – or perhaps not so subtly – stack the deck).

        On that topic, I should note that Weimar Germany had a very unusual runoff system for its presidential elections: a candidate needed an absolute majority to secure election on the first round, but if that wasn’t the case any number of candidates could take part in the runoff vote, and individuals who had not taken part in the first round could also join the contest. Moreover, only a plurality (as opposed to an absolute majority) of votes was required to win the runoff election.

        Now, if I find it hard to see Latin American countries adopting France’s contingency clause, I think it would be extremely unlikely for them to even contemplate Weimar Germany’s provisions: adopting them would be seen as nothing short of tempting fate.

      • Indeed, Hindenburg had not run in the first round of the election in which he was ultimately elected. And both presidential elections under the Weimar Republic saw more than two candidates in the second round. I think at least the first time, Hindenburg won with less than 50% of valid votes.

        Indeed, the best way to kill off this model would be to say “Weimar” and I know of no other country that has ever used anything like it.

        It is interesting that while France uses majority-plurality for National Assembly, the presidential election mandates top-two runoffs. Of course, as we have been discussing, it preserves a top-two runoff contest even in the event a qualifying candidate withdraws. So in some senses it is a stricter top-two than the rules used elsewhere, including Latin America.

        I do not know the history of the French provision, but I suspect it was put in because of the fear that a Communist candidate would finish second, and maybe–just maybe–the left would manage to coordinate and get a non-Communist to stand in the second round instead. This is just speculation on my part. I am pretty sure it was not because De Gaulle anticipated withdrawing from a runoff he had qualified for!

      • In France during the Thrid Republic, the 2nd round of was open to new candidates. (both for the direct legislative elections and the election of the President by the parliament)

      • Many of the two-round systems in Europe before WWI permitted entry of new candidates between rounds. Aside from Weimar presidential elections, I can’t think of such a case subsequent to WWI, but perhaps there are examples that have escaped my attention.

      • I don’t think it’s fair to lump Costa Rica, which has been a stable democracy for over 65 years, into the long history of troubled elections in Latin America. I can’t even think of an example of major electoral fraud in Costa Rica since the 1940s, which is better than the US can claim.

        The Araya withdrawal does have a precedent elsewhere in Latin America: the withdrawal of Carlos Menem from the second round of the 2003 Argentine election. There, unlike in Costa Rica, the electoral rules meant that Nestor Kirchner was automatically the winner without a second round being held.

      • Chris, I don’t think anyone here lumped Costa Rica in with “troubled elections” in Latin America. I think Manuel was making an argument about Latin America more generally. No one would dispute that Costa Rica has been a rare exception to the region’s long-term pattern and a model for other countries.

        As far as I know, there has been no serious fraud in Costa Rica since the election that precipitated the rebellion of 1948.

      • Chris, I was most certainly speaking of Latin America in general; concerning Costa Rica, I think this would be a good time to share with you the opening paragraph of the last (and as of yet unpublished) part of my website’s Costa Rica page:

        “Costa Rica, which attained its independence from Spain in 1821, had its first truly free and fair presidential election in 1889, when opposition candidate José Joaquín Rodríguez was elected president. Since then, a succession of civilian governments chosen in regularly scheduled elections have ruled the country, save for two brief interruptions: from 1917 to 1919, during the short-lived dictatorship of Gen. Federico Tinoco; and from 1948 to 1949, when a twelve-member junta came to power following a short but bloody civil war.”

        And that civil war took place because the government in power at the time – in a move all too familiar to the region – unwisely sought to void a presidential election in which the opposition candidate had prevailed.

        Nevertheless, the fact that Costa Rica is one of the few Latin American countries in which democratic governance has proven durable is beyond dispute; in fact, the decision of the leader of the 1948-49 junta, Don José “Pepe” Figueres to voluntarily relinquish power to the winner of the 1948 presidential election, Don Otilio Ulate, greatly contributed to cement Costa Rica’s democratic institutions (all the more so given that the two men were of very different political persuasions, the former being a social democrat, the latter a moderate conservative).

        Finally, I would think that Colombia is another Latin American country in which representative government has taken hold, albeit against a backdrop of violence and low voter turnout.

  3. Indonesia has an interesting rule that to qualify for the presidency your party must receive 20% of the DPR (lower house) seats or 25% of the popular vote. Candidates also have to pass a medical commission after the tragic presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid who was severely physically disabled.

  4. The PDI-P appeared to be leading in the Indonesian legislative election according to early counts, but with just under 20% of the votes. With wasted votes and likely overrepresentation in some districts, it is more than possible that PDI-I can win more than 20% of the seats in the DPR and nominate a presidential candidate alone (second-placed Golkar won 14% of the votes and 19% of the seats in 2009), yet most media seemed to be reporting the opposite.

  5. On Indonesia, I have noted the media reporting that suggests that PDI-P might not meet the threshold to nominate a presidential candidate without forming a coalition first. And, predictably, it seems the media narrative is that this is a terrible thing because, of course, it is better for a party with 20% support to just rule by itself. (<<-Snark alert.)

    I would think it quite likely that the party will get over 20% of seats on its own, for the reasons jhq notes. And that it will form some sort of pre-electoral coalition. And Indonesia will get along just fine.

      • I was assuming Jokowi will win, not because I actually know anything, but because this seems to be what those I believe are in the know are saying.

      • Photos of Jokowi are interesting. I am surprised that conspiracy theorists have not already started on an Obajoko link.

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