In case of tie

What if an election is tied? Apparently it is not that unusual, at least in contests with relatively small electorates. FiveThirtyEight tells of some recent US cases. It also cites a study by Casey B. Mulligan and Charles G. Hunter that says:

between 1898 and 1992 there were no tied elections for [US] federal office and only one (New York’s 36th District in 1910) that was decided by one vote. Only twice has a general election for a state legislative seat resulted in a tie: a Rhode Island state Senate race in 1978 and a 1980 New Mexico state House race. The former was decided by a special election, the latter by a coin flip.

I understand by way of Yusaku Horiuchi that ties for the last seat are fairly common in Japanese municipal elections, where SNTV is used.

What about other countries that readers may have familiarity with? And do most jurisdictions have clear rules of what to do in even of a tie? The FiveThirtyEight post refers to some cases where there were no such rules, and the council or other body had to make up a procedure.

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?

Elections of late May, 2014

The next few days have a lot of elections!

The European Parliament elections have been ongoing and conclude Sunday, which is also the day for the election of:

President of Colombia (first round)
President of Ukraine (first round)
Parliament of Belgium
President of Lithuania (second round)

Then we have the two-day election of the president of Egypt. (I could have said the ratification of the coup led by Abdel Fatah el-Sisi).

In the Colombian election, this will be the second time an incumbent is seeking reelection, given that the no-reelection clause was only lifted during the first term of Alvaro Uribe, who won a second consecutive term in 2006. Of particular interest in this election is that it pits incumbent Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe’s preferred successor in 2010, against a new candidate aligned with Uribe (as well as other candidates). The two had a falling out, mainly over policy towards the insurgency. But the Partido de la U, originally founded by and in support of Uribe, remains the party of the incumbent.

The Ukrainian election represents the attempt to return to electoral legitimacy following the ouster in February of Viktor Yanukovych in the popular uprising. One of the biggest questions in this election is whether it can be effectively conducted in parts of the southeast where separatist insurgents are threatening government control.

Belgium’s federal election is concurrent with the regional and European elections, which I believe is a very rare combination.

How many losers do you need?

For a project I am currently working on, regarding district-level vote fragmentation, I am toting up the number of losing parties (with any vote share) in electoral districts in various countries.

Here are a few cases that I have completed. This first list of countries gives the number of losing parties, averaging across districts and (usually) more than one election per country.

Albania, 36.2
Australia, 2.5
Barbados, 1.4
Canada, 4.2
Czech Republic, 15.5
Israel, 11.6
New Zealand, 2.3
Spain, 14.7
UK, 4.6

The figure for New Zealand refers to several pre-MMP elections.

This is a small set of countries, and I am currently expanding it. But what really jumps out here is how many partisan choices Albanian voters have. This refers to the 2009 and 2013 pure-PR elections only. The mean district in these Albanian elections has a magnitude of 12, a mean number of winning parties of only 3… and thirty-six losing parties!

Some of the other PR cases also have a lot of losers, but none like Albania.

It is interesting to see how many losing parties are typical of the two big FPTP countries, Canada and UK, with both averaging more than four per district.

Another interesting summary statistic is what vote share the losing parties average. In Albania it is 1.05% per party. That sums to a LOT of wasted votes! Spain, too, has a high average vote share for losing parties for a PR system, at 2.8%. In the Czech Republic it is 1.2% and in Israel (with nationwide PR, rather than districted) it is only 0.4%.

Thus we should also consider the average percentage of the first losing party in a district:

Albania, 4.6
Australia, 35.8
Barbados, 39.1
Canada, 28.5
Czech Republic, 4.7
Israel, 0.94
New Zealand, 32.9
Spain, 6.4
UK, 28.6

Of course, in FPTP systems the average shares for first losers and thus for all losers are especially high, but the larger losing parties in any given district tend to win some seats elsewhere.* In the PR cases, a lot of these losers are not winning anywhere (or might win in just one to two high-magnitude districts); they are just small parties that have no chance at all. I wonder what it is about Albanian party law, or other features of the country’s politics, that contribute to so many micro-parties running.

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* The third party (second loser) in the FPTP cases of Canada, UK and (formerly) New Zealand averages 14-15%. The average winner in Canada and the UK, by the way, is at almost precisely 50% (in NZ it was 52.8%).

Most of the raw data from which I calculated the above numbers come from the Constituency Level Electoral Archive, although I am augmenting it from various other sources. The list of countries shown here is the subset on which I am currently working: parliamentary democracies with “simple” electoral systems by Taagepera (2007) criteria, meaning no second round or upper tier. Thanks to Cory Belden for her research assistance; some day she will get a much better acknowledgement than one on a blog post…

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.

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

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