Lebanon 2018

Lebanon votes on 6 May. The new electoral system was previously profiled here at F&V by Amal Hamdan. Now we get to see the system in action!

Ali Harb at Mideast Eye also has a discussion of the system, complete with a map of the districts, and notes a change in ballot format beyond the adoption of open lists:

Another change is that the interior ministry will be solely responsible for ballots on election day. In previous elections, ballots were handed to voters by campaigners for various political parties.

In past elections, less popular candidates were able to slip their names onto the lists of other parties in a phenomenon known as “booby-trapped ballots”.

17 thoughts on “Lebanon 2018

  1. It’s a french colonial heritage to present voters different ballots for different candidates. At first, you could write your own ballot or use a ballot given to you by a candidate. If the government prints all posible ballots and presents them at the booth, a voter puts the right one in an envelope, and throws the others away. I don’t know if a Lebanese voter gets one ballot with all lists on it or (as before, but now printed by the ministry) a set of ballots, one for each list.

    • At the risk of emulating les Aingles-saixonnes, it would be more efficient, would it not, that the voter, in the electoral exercise of the political suffrage, is handed a single government-printed ballot (scrutin officiel), with the names of all the candidates listed, and perhaps numbered blank lines for write-in candidates? It would at least save more of the trees.
      (I have to say, I find the idea of write-in candidacies curious, but that could be just my cultural bias, and given the extreme stringency of many American States’ laws for official placement on the ballot – eg, tens of thousands of signatures – it perhaps has value as a safety valve.)

      • I was only bringing to your attention the french colonial heritage of the ballot type.

        I agree all on one ballot is preferable: it’s not only more efficient but also more easier to secure the secrecy of the vote. That’s why Belgium halfway the 19th century changed (in steps) from ballots the voter already has written when he enters the room to preprinted ballots with all candidates on it and the voter making an impersonal marking in a booth to make his choice known.

      • Indeed, Bancki. The Belgian ballots reproduced in Lakeman’s books (admittedly from several decades ago) are strikingly similar to the format of Australian mainland upper house ballot papers.
        As far as I know, Israel, Sweden and Switzerland also use the “put your favoured candidate’s/ party’s ticket into the official envelope” method?

      • If I’m not mistaken, Spain also relies on the “put the party ticket of your choice in the official envelope” method for elections to the Congress of Deputies. The same method was originally used for Senate elections, but they subsequently switched to a single ballot with all the grouped candidacies (usually referred to as “listas” in Spanish news media, literally “lists” – MSS frowns on the use of that term though).

      • Interesting visuals, Bancki. Najib Mikati’s ballot looks a lot like the Iraqi format from 2005.

        I am biased in favour of “open-ticket” PR systems (Hare-Clark or alphabetical STV,, fleixble, open or free lists) but even so, it seems to me that with photos of candidates or party-colour-coded group columns (or both, as here), expecting voters to “tick N candidates” or “number at least N candidates” in a medium-magnitude [*] district, with a ballot-paper the approximate size of a MacDonald’s place-mat, presents no great difficulty.

        Re crossing out offices/ candidates the voter is not qualified to vote for – I vaguely recollect one or another student union in Australia doing that with the Women’s Officer position. Any ballots issued to male students had that particular corner of the ballot crossed off by the issuing staff. Don’t ask me which university…

        [*] Can’t remember if I’ve already shared this, but I move that we parse our terminology further as follows:
        1. “delegation” of a district = total number of seats for that district.
        2. “magnitude” of a district = number of those seats filled at a particular district.
        3. “maximum cumulation” for a district = percentage of the voter’s vote-points (expressed in relation to “magnitude”) that s/he may or must cumulate on a single candidate. With List-PR, STV, SNTV and (of course) Cumulative Voting, in [say] a five-seat district, “maximum cumulation” will be 5, because you can (or must) put all your voting power on one single candidate: this metric treats all of these, in effect, as versions of standard cumulative voting. With MNTV or Approval in a five-seater, by contrast, “maximum cumulation” will be 1 vote. With Limited Voting, “maximum cumulation” will be greater than 1 but less than MAGNITUDE – eg, under the Scots Kirk system (vote for candidates not exceeding a bare majority of the seats), it will be 3 in a five-seat district.

        This usefully helps us distinguish different sorts of districts and voting systems with very different effects – eg, US Senators’ and Australian Territory Senators’ districts both have a “delegation” of two, but then differ in their “magnitude” at each election (1 for US Senators, 2 for ACT/NT Senators) and their “maximum cumulation” (again, 1 and 2 respectively).

        For an even wider contrast, both the Dáil Éireann constituency of Cork South-Central and the (former) Central No 1 Province of the pre-reform South Australian Legislative Council https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Members_of_the_South_Australian_Legislative_Council,_1962%E2%80%931965 were four-seat districts (ie DEL = 4), but this superficial similarity is misleading, because Cork South-Central elected all four TDs at once by PR-STV, whereas Central No 1 Province elected two of its four MLCs in rotation at each election using multiple alternative vote (ie, two consecutive AV counts to fill the seats one by one, resurrecting any candidates defeated in an earlier count). So:
        Cork South-Central DEL = 4 MAGN = 4 MAX.CUV = 4
        Central No 1 Province DEL = 4 MAGN = 2 MAX.CUV = 1

      • A rethink to clarify the third index, of MAX_CUV.
        The higher this index, the more proportional the result. Which is why I think it should be expressed in terms of the absolute number of seats. Simply saying that single-seat districts and 10-seat PR district “both allow you to cumulate 100% of your voting-points on one single candidate” papers over some very significant differences. 100% of a single vote has very different party effects from cumulating 100‰ of ten votes.

        Likewise, saying “a 10-seat MNTV district and a single-seat district both limit voters to casting at most one single vote” is misleading because an an inspection of their delegation/ magnitude/ cumulation indices shows wide variation: 10:10:10 vs 1:1:1.

        And finally, saying “The Canton of Lucerne elects 10 deputies to the Swiss National Council, just as the State of Maryland elects 10 Presidential Electors to the US Electoral College, voting at-large as one electorate in both cases” is obviously misleading.

        With three separate votes for five seats, the maximum cumulation is [seats divided by votes], ie 5/3 or 16667. It’s as if it were a “one and two-thirds-member district”.

        The degree of proportionality can be compared by asking how many seats a solid bare majority of 50%+1 would win. To measure differences among different magnitudes, divide by 0.5 more than the number of seats. Eg, in a seven-seat electorate it will give a party or bloc 4 seats out of 7, so this becomes 4 ÷ 7.5, a proportionality index of 0.5333. The closer the index comes to 0.500, the more proportional the system is. So a 15-seat multi-member could be very proportional – because exactly 50.001% of the votes would net 8 seats of the 15, an index of 0.5161 – or extremely disproportional if block voting is used, because a bare majority of the votes would win all 15 seats, an index of 0.9677.

        The “maximum cumulation” index is intended to mimic, or offer a comparison for, what would happen if an election in that district were held for that number of seats by some form of PR. So for example, a MAX_CUV of 1.0 for a pre-1973 South Australian Legislative Council province shows that it operated, proportionality-wise, as it if it were a single-member electorate, notwithstanding that each Council Province not only had four MLCs but even elected two MLCs at a time. Therefore, using the Scots Kirk system, if you can vote for for candidates for six seats, you can give it most 1/4 of your voting power to a single candidate, so with 6 seats the effective cumulation is 1.5. Of course, 1.5 seats is a platonic ideal; it does not exist anywhere in reality.

    • Add to the set of countries using the “select a paper for your preferred list and place it in an envelope” method: Israel.

      And, yes, re the Spanish second chamber (Senate), I would not call them “lists” because the votes are nominal and nontransferable. In electoral-system terms, we should reserve “list” for a set of ranked candidates over which votes are pooled. (Obviously, the ranking can be by a party/alliance before the election, by preference votes cast in the election, or some combination; it is the vote-pooling that matters.)

      • “Groups” or “teams” would be more accurate since the same term is used with non-list-PR STV systems, and can even be used for non-PR systems (eg, US Presidential Electors in those States – are there any left? – where the individual candidates’ names are still listed separately on the ballot).
        Political science really needs (and may already have – MSS? I may have missed it) a clear, non-too-stipulative term for the basic unit of voting, designating grouped lists of candidates in closed-list voting systems and individual candidates in all other voting systems (FPTP, MNTV, STV, SNTV, flexible lists, open lists, free lists, Borda, Range, etc). “Bloc”? “Ticket”? “Slate”? I note that one or two of the proposed US Constitutional amendments for direct presidential elections spoke of voting for and electing a “ticket” of two candidates: under such a system, as in 25 US States, each “party group/ team” for the two highest executive offices equals two “candidates” and one single “ticket”, whereas by contrast in The Philippines, and in another 18 US States, each “party group/ team” for the two highest executive offices equals two “candidates” but two separate “tickets”, because in the latter cases you can vote for Vice-President/ Lieutenant Governor separately from President/ Governor.

      • I understand your perspective completely, but I should also note that in Spain the use of the term “lista” covers as well the electoral system of the 1931-36 Second Republic 474-seat unicameral Cortes, which was very similar to the current Senate system, save for the following differences: constituency size varied according to population (if I’m not mistaken on a proportional basis); cities over 150,000 (originally 100,000) were multi-member constituencies in their own right (so for example there were two Madrid constituencies, one for the city and another for the rest of the province); there were no single-island constituencies, just provincial- or city-based constituencies; the number of minority seats varied depending on constituency size; and if no candidate reached a 40% of the vote threshold (originally 20%), a runoff vote was held among tickets in which at least one candidate polled 8%. Moreover, in some constituencies it was not uncommon for a ticket to nominate candidates for all seats – majority and minority alike – and manage to get them all elected, the constraints of the limited vote system notwithstanding. Now, the thing is that even history books in Spain use the term “lista” when discussing this system and the results of the 1931, 1933 and 1936 general elections, not least because it was common practice for candidates to group in, well, lists. In fact, the Spanish-language Wikipedia article on the topic uses the term extensively.

        Of course, none of that invalidates your point, and I have no issue with using the term “grouped candidacies” or some variation thereof, but that said I’m not sure it would be a good idea to tell Spaniards “you’re using the wrong term” when writing about their own history. As my late father – who was a linguist – told me more than once, language is not logical.

      • Thanks, Manuel, noted. I’m also not about to query Spaniards why they “see my house” but “see to my father”. Apparently one can start fights among Hungarian speakers according to whether one says one is “on” a place (reserved for home soil, ie Hungary but also parts of it that were excised by the Treaty of Trianon) or “in” a place (reserved for foreign soil).
        On the main point, maybe “candidacy unit” but only as specialised jargon among ourselves, like “district magnitude”. if individual candidates could be “tickets”, it would sound odd to say, eg, “one can vote for all four tickets in the PSOE’s Senado electoral group” when among most English speakers “ticket” would refer to the whole group itself.
        It is generally around this point in any discussion that MSS reminds us that Taagepera magisterially nailed this precise point in one or another article published in 1977.

    • Sometimes the French get tired of Gallicising Latin words and just give up half-way through. Eg, logically Latin “Catharina” should have become “Chéthèrine”, and “Francia” should have been turned into “Fraince”, and the current French President should be “Aimènoueau Mécron”, but someone got bored.
      And why don’t the Canadian Provinces have official French parallel titles? L’Ountaire, Le Mainitouve, La Couaibecq, L’Auverte, Le Sacquaichouenne, L’Île du Dauphin Édouard, La Terre Qu’est Étée Nouvellement Trouvée, etc…
      Which brings us to this intriguing thought experiment (complete with chart, 1974-era retro coloured hexagons and all): “Imagining a French electoral college: If France were to use America’s electoral system, Marine Le Pen might be on course for victory”

    • ERRATUM:
      “2. “magnitude” of a district = number of those seats filled at a particular election (if there are rotating/ overlapping terms).

  2. “… polling booths which are specific to certain communities. For example, again in 2009, my polling station was a school and, as you entered the school, there were many polling booths in various classrooms, and each one of them was for voters from a specific sect – those for Armenian Orthodox voters, those for Greek orthodox voters, etc. Moreover, because of the conservatism of the society, you also have separate polling booths for men and women.
    – So you could see extremely detailed data about who is voting for whom?
    – Yes, which is bad.”

    Source: https://mirrorspectator.com/2018/05/17/expanded-version-lebanese-elections-and-the-lebanese-armenian-politics/

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