Greens in the debates

In a reversal of an earlier decision, the Green Party leader will be allowed into the debates in advance of Canada’s 14 October election.

This is a good decision for democracy. The party is polling in the 8–10% range and while it may not win any seats beyond the one it currently holds (thanks to a switch by a member not elected under its label), under plurality rules even far smaller parties can have an impact. Besides, it is a national party, without question.

If only this could serve as an example for the debates to the south…

The minor party candidates

Josh Putnam, a political science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, who maintains a terrific blog on the US presidential election process called Frontloading HQ, has had a series of recent posts about the possible impact of the minor party and independent candidates.

The most recent is about the potential impact of Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party nominee who has only recently appeared in some pollsters’ questions. The post about McKinney was in response to a request from me, as I asked whether McKinney was fishing in the same pool as former Green candidate Ralph Nader (who is running as an independent this time, as he did in 2004). So, thanks Josh.

I will not try to summarize this interesting series of posts by Josh. You may read the recent post on McKinney yourself, and then, near the top of his August archives, you can see the previous posts that discussed the candidacies of Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Ralph Nader (nonpartisan).

McKinney nominated on Green ticket

As expected, the Green Party made it official, and yesterday nominated former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (Georgia, and then a Democrat) to be its presidential candidate.

I suppose this is a record for Georgia: the state claims two former members of Congress running for president on partisan tickets in the same year, with McKinney joining Bob Barr (former Republican member).

At, Mark Blumenthal discusses the challenges to measuring the support of third-party and independent candidates, and notes that the team has recently added a graphic tracking the presidential race with Bob Barr and Ralph Nader (a non-partisan candidate). Pollsters, and should now add Cynthia McKinney to their analysis for the 2008 US presidential campaign.

On purely objective criteria–name recognition and prior experience–has there ever been a better field of third-party/independent presidential candidates? In spite of the objective quality of the candidates, I suspect that Nader and McKinney will have a hard time combining for even 2% of the national popular vote, and that Barr would have an outside chance of cracking 5% only if Republican John McCain appears to be headed for a loss of blowout proportions.

Understanding Green parties

Sean Hanley has a brief but interesting post up about the Green parties of Estonia and the Czech Republic (and elsewhere) and why the Western sociological frame of ‘post-materialism’ may be inaccurate for understanding the Green parties farther east. It may even be inaccurate, he hints, for understanding those of the west. Perhaps they are better understood as the coming together of “environmental and/or agrarian interest with the demand for ‘new politics’ of the centre.” He suggests that the brand has become a trusted one for these rather diverse groups choosing to ally under the ‘green’ label–“a kind of franchise taken up by a rather diverse group of political business partners. Not necessarily totally meaningless, but not really indicative of a close ‘party family’ relationship.”

I suspect Sean is very much on to something here.

He also notes some internal problems–predictably–caused by the Green’s coalition with the right in the Czech Republic.

Could the Greens make it into the next Knesset?

Israel’s Green Party was founded more than a decade ago, but has never won a Knesset seat despite the very low electoral threshold. ((The threshold is currently 2% of the national vote. In 2006, the Greens won 1.5%, which was the highest percentage among the parties that failed to cross the threshold.)) The party’s chairman is the current deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, and polls are currently showing that the party could win as many as 4 seats in the next election. ((It could “replace the Pensioners Party in the next Knesset as the dark horse that will win the support of young and disgruntled voters,” notes the JPost, in the article linked here. I previously noted the manner in which the Pensioners benefited from late-campaign strategic voting. Meanwhile, the Pensioners Party has recently split over some of its MKs support for a bill to raise–you guessed it–pensions beyond what the government (in which it participates) was willing to do.))

The party’s prospects could be helped by recruiting a “charismatic leader to head the list,” reports the Jerusalem Post:

Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines has confirmed that he was asked to head the list, but has denied that he seriously considered the offer. MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) has reportedly been approached by both environmentalist parties.

And therein lies a key factor that could harm the party’s prospects: there is a second green party being formed.

The new party will be co-headed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev professor Alon Tal and Eran Ben Yemini of the Green Course student environmental organization. …

Several hundred people are involved in putting together the party’s platform, which will encompass positions on all the major issues of the day and not just the environment. A source in the party said its positions and organization would be democratic and transparent.

Most of the green parties around the world that have secured parliamentary representation (and sometimes government participation) have presented a platform that spanned many issues other than the environment. And many have made a point of stressing internal democracy, which the older Israeli Green party apparently has not always been known for upholding.


Former San Francisco Board of Supervisors member (and mayoral candidate) Matt Gonzalez will be Ralph Nader’s running mate.

Gonzalez is just the sort of political figure I would like to see the Green Party build on: Someone with actual prior electoral experience. That he had that experience while an affiliated Green is even more a plus. However, given that Nader is running as an independent and not as a Green, I wonder if this could be a bridge-burning move for Gonzalez with the Green Party. I hope not. ((See Wes’s thoughts on this at California Greening.))

Regarding Green candidates for prominent office with a record of electoral experience, the first Green I can recall voting for was Dan Hamburg for California Governor, in 1998. Hamburg previously had been a Democratic member of Congress from a closely divided district on the state’s north coast. His journey seems subsequently to have taken him rather far from politics, Green or otherwise.

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is an announced Green presidential pre-candidate. For various reasons I have doubts about her being any more serious about party-building–or any more likely to be effective at it–than Nader is at this point, ((I believe Nader was serious in 2000, and I supported him on that basis.)) but that is a topic for another day.

One can debate whether the Green Party should run a presidential candidate, ((And, frankly, I have no interest in debating with those who believe that the only thing a Green can do is get out of the way of the Democrats.)) but despite his being on the ballot as a pre-candidate in the 5 February Green primary in California, ((He won more than 60% of the roughly 28,000 votes cast, despite not having announced he was a candidate.)) Nader is not actually part of that debate as far as I can tell. I could certainly see a basis for a Greens for Obama push, though I do not think it should be unconditional. ((I know that realistically, it would be, alas. And that few activist Greens would go for it, in any case. Alas.))

In other third-party/independent news, Michael Bloomberg says he’s not running.

Choosing among Dems, by default

Well, I just realized that Tuesday was the last day to register to vote or to change one’s party affiliation in advance of California’s presidential primary. So, it’s Democrat–my current registration, more or less by default ((Certainly not by any meaningful standard of “party identification.”))–for me. I had considered re-registering Green, and may still do so, but it won’t be in time for the presidential primary. I had also considered re-registering Decline to State, but that would only have broadened my options to include the American Independent (in addition to Democrat), and there is noting at all “broad” about the American Independent party. ((If you are unaffiliated and were hoping to vote for a Republican candidate on 5 February, too late! But you can still vote for Obama, or any other Democrat–or an AI candidate.))

I rather like the idea of being a dues paying member of one party ((I joined the Green Party some months ago. Money where mouth is, and all that.)) while being legally able to participate in the nominating primary of another–I suppose that is a very American form of political party participation!

Besides, I have only a weak preference among the Green pre-candidates, and have mixed feelings about whether the party–yes, my party–should even run a presidential candidate. ((But therein lies an inherent problem with presidentialism for minor parties: In such an institutional structure, you are pretty much nowhere as a party if you forgo a candidacy for the most visible office. Yet running a presidential candidate has serious risks for a party with no serious chance to win the office, and I am not talking about the “spoiler” charge; I am talking about the danger of personalizing a party that, by its very size and nature, strives to be a programmatic alternative. See, it is true: It isn’t easy being Green!)) But if I vote for President in November, that vote will almost certainly be for the Green Party nominee, ((Safe state under the absurd Electoral College system, and all that.)) whoever it is–a party, not a personal vote. So, why bother to vote in a primary when you are almost indifferent as to whom it nominates (or even if it nominates anyone)?

Anyway, for those who will be voting in the Green presidential primary, be sure to listen to the recent pre-candidates’ debate. And also be informed that the most recognizable name in US Green politics is on your ballot, but at least as of now, is not an announced pre-candidate. ((In fact, of the seven pre-candidates listed, I believe only four are actually currently active: Johnson, McKinney, Mesplay, and Swift.))

Regarding the Green debate, I mostly agree with the review by Wes of California Greening.

So, I still have about two weeks to pick a pre-candidate from our–I mean, their–wonderful field. ((No, still not convinced on Obama. Still about where I was at the end of 2007.))
Epilogue: The list of parties not qualified for ballot status in the state, but seeking it, is rather interesting. Entertaining, even: I am particularly intrigued by the We Like Women and Science Party.

Could UK Greens win a seat?

Green Party candidates tend not to win races in national or state/provincial legislative races conducted by plurality. The type of constituency Green parties cultivate is systematically under-represented by an electoral system that privileges regional concentration as the only way a smaller party (measured by jurisdiction-wide votes) can win representation. Nonetheless, even Greens are bound to have some local concentration, as a few near misses in recent Canadian elections discussed here previously have suggested. It seems it would be only a matter of time before some Green candidates begin to break through in FPTP jurisdictions, given the greater salience recently of the party’s signature issues.

In the UK, a recent local council by-election suggests growth within the range that would be needed to win a seat in the next general election. The seat in question is in Brighton, and bears watching.

Source: The Guardian; originally seen at Greens for Greens.

Update: In light of interesting comments from readers regarding Greens in Australia and New Zealand, I have now cross-planted this in those country blocks.

Do even Greens need leadership?

The UK Greens will decide in an internal referendum later this year whether to move to a more traditional single-leader model. Mark Lynas has an interesting take in the New Statesman on the debate, which pits the fundis (who fear “domestication” of their movement) and the realos (who would like to see the party position itself to make an impact on the British mainstream).

This is, of course, an echo of similar problems confronted by other “outsider” movements, apart from those that are founded by charismatic leaders, which are more typical of the non-mainstream right than of left-libertarian and “eco” movements like the Greens. (The outsiders of the right have the opposite problem: how to institutionalize and get out of the shadow of the leader and carry on after the leader’s departure).

Very interesting. Thanks to Natalie at Philobiblon for the tip.

Ireland: The Green Isle

updated below

Ireland will be getting Greener, as that nation’s Green Party has agreed for the first time to join a coalition government. Fianna Fáil, the party of current premier, Bertie Ahern, has agreed to introduce a carbon tax during the lifetime of the next parliament in exchange for the Greens’ entry into the coalition, while the Greens agreed not to use their government role to block Fianna Fáil’s road-building plans or to stop Iraq-bound US military flights from using Shannon airport.

The coalition will also include the Progressive Democrats (PD). Fianna Fáil and the PD have shared power in the outgoing government, but failed to win a majority of seats in the recent parliamentary election.

As Wilf Day pointed out in the earlier planting, under Ireland’s single transferable vote (STV) system, we know the patterns of vote transfers between candidates of various parties. It just so happens that Green votes were highly unlikely to transfer to Fianna Fáil and more likely to go to the leading opposition party, Fine Gael. So, in terms of the connection between votes and executive-formation, assuming the coalition goes ahead, do we have here a systemic failure, or at least a mandate violation? The coalition agreement needs to be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Green’s national conference today (which about 500 party members are expected to attend).

It is not yet known which or how many portfolios the Greens will get, but they are seeking Transport (which would put them in charge of implementing road projects that they campaigned against!) and Environment. The Greens would like to reorganize the ministries, combining parts of Energy and Environment to address global climate-change issues.

Ahern is also working on support deals with two independent members of parliament.

Update: The coalition is approved, with 86% of Green delegates to the conference approving, although the Greens party leader is stepping down to honor a previous pledge not to enter a coalition with Fianna Fáil. Greens will have two portfolios (probably environment and energy, rather than transportation) and the PDs one. The Irish Times has more detail on the agreement, including its policy guidelines and the information that the Greens will also have two junior ministers. Thus four of its six legislators will have government posts. Meanwhile, the article also notes that Ahern continues to offer budgetary commitments so far up to “hundreds of millions of euros” with three non-party members (with a fourth possibly also to be signed up).

Election in Manitoba

Update: No surprises. The NDP won easily (36 seats on 47.7% to the Conservatives’ 19 on 38.2%), the Liberals held their two seats and again won just over 12% of the vote;, the Greens managed only 1.3% of the vote (and came in second, but farther behind than in 2003, in Wolesley).

If you are keeping score, that’s a –1.5% vote swing away from the NDP, yet a one-seat gain.

Voters have been going to the polls today in Manitoba’s provincial legislative election, although apparently not in great numbers early in the day. As is often the case under first-past-the-post systems, only a few districts (or ridings) are in play. The CBC has a list of them, noting that:

A few thousand votes in a dozen key ridings decide which party forms government in Manitoba — and all eyes are pinned to them on election night.

The two main parties are the incumbent New Democratic Party (the third party Canada-wide, but obviously a major party in Manitoba), which is seeking a third consecutive term, and the Progressive Conservatives. Each has roughly twenty safe districts.

If a recent Angus Reid poll is accurate, it is not much of a race provincewide:

    NDP 49%
    PC 37%
    Lib 9%
    Green 5%
    (616 respondents, 17-19 May, MoE 3.9%)

That would represent little change from the last provincial election, in 2003, when the NDP beat the Conservatives in votes, 49.2-36.9 and in seats, 35-20. In 2003, the Liberals won 12.8% of the votes and two seats (leaving 1.1% for various others); evidently some of Manitoba’s potential Liberal electorate is considering sending a message by voting Green.

The Greens have candidates in 15 ridings, including four that are on the CBC list of most competitive ridings. CBC even gives the Green candidate a chance of winning one of those (Wolseley, in central Winnipeg, where the party won 20% in 2003).

The Manitoba electoral system is a fairly unremarkable FPTP system. This is not one of the provinces where an electoral-reform movement is likely to spread like a prairie fire, at least unless something very unusual happens when results are in later tonight.

The graph below is a Manitoba variant of a format that appears in a paper of mine on reform in FPTP systems (but Manitoba is not shown in the paper, due to its being so unremarkable).


The upper broken reddish line shows the vote difference over time between the two leading parties–not since the 1980s has Manitoba had a run of close elections, during a period when the Liberals were challenging for major-party status. The lower green-colored line shows the deviation from the expected seat share of the second party (based on the seat-vote equation), with zero deviation represented by the grey horizontal line.

When the Conservatives were in power, the NDP was quite over-represented relative to the FPTP “norm” for a second party of its size. Presumably this resulted from the NDP’s relative concentration around Winnipeg, so that it continued to win those 20 or so strongholds mentioned above, even as its provincewide votes lagged.

Now that the Conservatives are the second party, they have received close to the expected share in 1999 and 2003, albeit with some uptick in the more recent election. Barring a surprise in the result, the main thing I will be watching is whether the Conservatives improve their seat payoff or fall back to where they were in 1999–and, of course, whether the Green wins Wolseley.

More fundamental than the climate

The thing that Greens care about more fundamentally than anything — perhaps for some Greens it matters more than climate — is that we fix the voting system.

So said Elizabeth May, the leader of the Canadian Green Party. She was commenting on a “non-compete” agreement that she recently struck with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, in which the latter has agreed to explore reforms to Canada’s electoral system.

I can’t argue with the green priority: Addressing the fundamental environmental issues of our time, including climate change, would be advanced significantly by addressing the fundamental democratic deficit of countries still mired in first-past-the-post politics, such as Canada, the U.K., and the USA. Greens have rarely won seats under FPTP in national, state, or provincial-level legislative races.1 However, when they have been in parliament under proportional-representation systems, they have sometimes been able to be in government (as in Germany, 1998-2005, and the Czech Republic currently) or to influence policy even in the absence of executive positions (as in New Zealand currently).

The importance of PR to a party like the Greens is evident from a nationwide Canadian poll from early March. It showed the Green Party polling at 13%, compared to the 4.5% it won in the 2006 election. When asked on CBC whether that support would translate into electing a member of parliament, Greens leader May correctly noted, “We are not a regionally-based party, and as such, the first-past-the-post system does tend to work against us.” Indeed, the Quebec Bloc won only 10.5% of the national vote in 2006, yet won 16.6% of the seats. The FPTP system is biased towards smaller parties with regional support and against those of about the same size with more dispersed support.

As beneficial as stand-down (no-compete) deals and an eventual move to proportional representation would be for the Greens, there is less to this deal than meets the eye. The deal calls for the Liberals to stand down in May’s riding (electoral district), where the Liberal has no chance of winning.2 In exchange, the Greens will not compete in Dion’s riding, which is entirely safe for the Liberal party, anyway. The agreement thus has no promise of actually helping Greens get into parliament, from where they would be able to hold Dion and his party to the promise to begin serious discussion of electoral reform and to action on climate change should the Liberals form a minority government after the next election.

The deal is much more about Liberal-NDP and Green-NDP competition than it is about representation for the Greens or a process of electoral reform. The NDP and the Greens, to a significant extent, share overlapping voter bases, while the NDP and the Liberals are also in competition with one another in many ridings across Canada. For example, the NDP won about 17% of the vote in 2006, but in the poll that put the Greens on 13%, the NDP was also at 13%, while the Liberals were at 27% (compared to just over 30% in the 2006 election). The Conservative vote, on the other hand, appears relatively unaffected by the votes of the Green-NDP-Liberal segments of the electorate.3 In the 2006 election and the referenced poll (as well as many other polls in the past year), the Liberal-NDP-Green combo represents a majority of the votes. And, while the parties disagree on many things amongst themselves, a PR system would translate these parties’ recent levels of support into a majority in parliament.

However, under FPTP, these parties are in competition with one another in a way that could benefit the Conservatives, unless the Liberal party can persuade more potential NDP or Green voters to vote for it than for one of the smaller parties. More votes for the Greens will hurt the NDP the most; moreover, a Liberal party seen as out-greening the NDP may be able to retain some environmentally conscious votes that would otherwise go NDP, if not Green. Finally, in several ridings, drawing votes away from the NDP, whether they go to the Greens or the Liberals, could boost Liberals against Conservative competition.

As Stephen Maer, in The Chronicle Herald notes:

Ms. May’s endorsement should help Mr. Dion, but the advantages to Ms. May are not as clear, except that she seems to think it’s the right thing to do. […]

Ms. May is a bigger threat to the electoral prospects of NDP Leader Jack Layton than to Stephen Harper…

Jack Layton, NDP leader, suggested he sees the threat to his party when he posed the rhetorical question, “If Ms. May thinks Mr. Dion would make the best prime minister, why isn’t she running as a Liberal?” Of course, she is doing this to raise the profile of a party that will always struggle to survive under FPTP. And that takes us full circle, back to the fundamental importance of electoral reform in order to elect blocs of legislators committed to climate-change policy. Thanks to the deal, Canadian papers for several days have given quite a lot of coverage to electoral reform and the Green Party. A short-term success, at least!

1. I know of two FPTP races won by Green candidates, both in mixed-member proportional electoral systems. The NZ Greens co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimmons, won the single-seat district for Coromandel in 1999. (In that election, it was not clear the party would pass the party-list threshold and if it had not, the party’s presence in parliament would have depended on the district win. The party has not held the seat since, but has remained above the threshold nationally.) Hans Christian Stroebele won the constituency of Kreuzberg in Berlin for the Green Party in the 2005 German federal election. A Green came close to winning a riding in BC’s last provincial election, but there is no value to being “close” under FPTP! (Some Greens have been elected in single-seat districts in France, where a two-round system is used and the party has benefited from cross-district cooperative arrangements with left allies.)

2. The riding is Central Nova, in Nova Scotia. It is currently held by Peter MacKay, a minister in the current Conservative federal cabinet who won 40.7% of the vote in 2006. Then NDP came in second, with 32.9% and the Liberal third, with 24.6%. A different Green candidate in 2006 won 1.6%, or 671 votes. In a wonderful twist, the Liberal candidate who now won’t be running is named Susan Green! (Thanks to Idealistic Pragmatist for that tip.)

3. Other polls around the same time show the Greens with less support. Most of those other polls also show the NDP very marginally higher and the Liberals also somewhat higher. The Conservative vote appears a bit more stable, though it has reached 40% in the occasional poll. The site linked in this note shows a graph of polling trends.

Could the anti-missile system doom the Czech government?

Could the Czech government, which rests on a thin reed after taking more than seven months to form in the evenly divided parliament, be threatened by the prospect of being one of the hosts to a controversial proposed US missile defense system?

&#268eské Noviny, as noted at the blog Greens for Greens, reports that one of the coalition partners, the Czech Green party, might vote against the proposal. The deputy chairman Ondrej Liska said that this would not have to mean an end to the government coalition.

Whatever the deputy leader might say, it is hard for me to see how the government could survive one of its partners voting against such a major foreign policy issue. The Czech Green party is more liberal (in the strictly economic sense, and as that term is understood outside the USA) than most of its counterparts in other counties (as discussed at F&V previously). Indeed it is in coalition with center-right parties. Nonetheless, they are greens, and I have wondered how they would finesse an issue like this one.

The largest governing party (Civic Democratic Party of PM Mirek Topolanek) is in favor of the radar, while the main opposition party (the Social Democratic) is calling for a referendum. According to a recent STEM poll, 70 percent of Czechs reject the radar.

This looks to be a big political test for this government. And for the Czech Greens.

Estonian election

Estonia’s parliamentary elections were held on 4 March. The following discussion of the electoral system is transplanted here from something I originally wrote Sunday. Below that is entirely new text on the results.

The Electoral System

As I noted a few days ago, Estonia was, for one election, one of the few countries (the only one?) outside of the U.K. and its former colonies to have used STV. While that system turned out to be too unfavorable to party leadership for the tastes of–who else!–party leaders, the system adopted and in use ever since does have a stronger personal element than many party-list systems in Europe. That is, the current Estonian system is broadly in the family of ‘flexible list’ but the actual flexibility is much greater in practice than in others of that category (e.g. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands).

In Estonia, the voter must cast a preference vote for one candidate on a party list. Seats are allocated to parties according to their share of the national vote (with a 5% threshold). Seats are allocated to candidates as follows. Candidates can win outright on purely their own preference votes, but seats in the various multi-seat districts that are not filled by one of two stages where preference votes are taken into account* are filled instead in a third stage at the national level, based on their order on the party’s closed national list.

I believe the number of seats filled at the national rather than district level (and therefore by party rank rather than by preference votes) has grown over time, in part because parties are free to nominate many more candidates than there are seats in a district, and the more that parties do so–and nominate candidates with a personal following–the lower the number of candidates that will tend to have enough votes to be elected based on their preference votes at the district level. (See the comment below by Taavi Annus for new information here.)

Clearly, it takes more than just a moment to attempt to explain the Estonian electoral system (and, actually, there is much more that could be said). I should note that Estonia’s most famous expert on electoral systems, my graduate-school mentor, Rein Taagepera, did not design this system!


Preliminary results show that the ruling coalition performed well in Sunday’s election. Reform won 31 seats and Kesk 29, which is a large majority of the 101-seat Riigikogu. The results represent a gain of 12 seats for Reform and one for Kesk.

The largest opposition party remains the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, despite its loss of 16 seats. It now will have 19. (Taagepera was involved in founding Res Publica and published an academic article about its “meteoric rise.” He is no longer involved with the party, and its showing in this election has to count as a recovery considering the party’s post-election meteoric fall that Rein’s article also addresses.)

Add Estonia to the ranks of countries (all of which use PR) to have Green representation: The Rohelised party won 6 seats. (This Green party is new. However; the green movement has deep roots in the social movements of the late Soviet period. This new party marks the first representation by a Green list since 1992, before the threshold was raised to 5%. In 1999 green candidates ran on joint lists with Kesk, but none had enough preference votes to win. Thanks to Taavi for corrections here.)

Other bloggers’ commentary

Josep Colomer has a very interesting post about Estonian democracy and Taagepera’s role in its development since the country recovered its independence from the Russian-Soviet empire.

(Josep mentions having visited Estonia in October, 1991. I guess we just missed each other, as I was there at the end of that very month. Interesting experience–maybe I will tell some time.)

Another of Taagepera’s former students, Steven Taylor, notes that the election will have a considerable element of on-line voting. From the country where Skype originated, this election is apparently the first widespread use of Internet voting technology anywhere.

Alex Speaks about the election results.


* In one of two ways: Either by having personally a quota’s worth of votes, where the quota is the number of valid votes divided by the district magnitude (the ‘simple’ or ‘Hare’ quota), or by having preference votes equivalent to at least .1q, where q refers to the quota.

Czech government wins confidence vote

In a follow-up to a story I have covered since the tied-result election (just click on “Czech Republic” above to see the previous plantings), the center-right coalition finally was able to win a confidence vote. Two abstaining dissenters from the Social Democratic party made it possible. What deals were they offered? Stay tuned.

I hope someone can finally explain to me how it is that the Czech “Green” party, a pre-election partner with the main conservative parties in this government, is a right-wing party. (Thanks to Antiquated Tory for doing so in a comment; I hope to weigh in at some point.)