Monthly Archives: February 2009
This blog isn’t dead, to all those watching this space anxiously. Just that we’ve been in a major dull for elections these past few weeks since Sardinia (talking about them, those goons still haven’t finished counting. A Corsican-style election would be nice). However, fear not! We have four very interesting regional elections coming up this Sunday. Two of them in Spain, two of them in Austria.
An election will be held in the southernmost Austrian state, Carinthia. You may know it as the state of the far-right leader Jörg Haider, who died last October. Indeed, he was Governor of the state since 1999, and had also served briefly from 1989 to 1991. In 2004, Haider was still a member of the largest Austrian far-right party, the FPÖ. In the Carinthian elections that year, Haider’s FPÖ resisted spectacularly despite a bad period nationally. The FPÖ won 42.4%, ahead of the Social Democrats (SPÖ), who won 38.4%. The mainstream right, the ÖVP won only 11.6% and the Greens won 6.7%, earning them 2 seats. Carinthia has a small declining Carinthian Slovene population, making up around 2% of the population. Slovenes tend to be heavily SPÖ, although the Greenies or Liberal Forum also does very well because a small Slovene party makes alliances with either of the two. See the village of Zell, 89% Slovene, for example. However, Carinthia, like most Austrian states has a Grand Coalition government composed of the BZÖ, SPÖ, and ÖVP.
However, in disagreements with some other FPÖ members, he formed a new party in 2005, the BZÖ, or Alliance for the Future of Austria. 15 of the 16 Carinthian FPÖ MPs joined the BZÖ. Shortly before his death in October 2008, Haider’s BZÖ won 10.7% of the votes and 21 seats in the September 2008 federal election. In Carinthia, he won 38.5%, placing ahead of all other parties.
Since Haider’s death, the new Governor of Carinthia has been Gerhard Dörfler, also a member of the BZÖ.
Current polling (Gallup)
Alternatively, a Market poll from the 22nd. As a bonus, a seat simulation on these figures.
BZÖ 39% (15 seats, ±0)
SPÖ 37% (15 seats, +1)
ÖVP 12% (4 seats, ±0)
Greens 7% (2 seats, ±0)
FPÖ 5% (0, -1)
Elections are also being held in the traditionally conservative but SPÖ-ruled state of Salzburg. In 2004, the SPÖ 45.4% and won 17 seats, placing ahead of the ÖVP, which had won all elections since 1945. The ÖVP won 37.9% and only 14 seats. The FPÖ, which had won nearly 20% in 1999, was reduced to 8.7% and only 2 seats. The Greens made some gains, winning 8% and keeping their 2 MPs. Gabi Burgstaller (SPÖ) become Governor, the first SPÖ Governor of Salzburg. The current government is another grand coalition, SPÖ-ÖVP.
Burgstaller has maintained positive approval ratings throughout, though some polls have indicated that the race will be close.
The latest polls, first from IGF (seat projection in brackets)
SPÖ 41% (15 seats, -2)
ÖVP 35% (13 seats, -3)
FPÖ 14% (5 seats, +3)
Greens 8% (3 seats, +1)
BZÖ 2% (0 seats)
Gallup, however, is seeing a much closer race:
The Spanish autonomous community of the Basque Country will be holding elections, four years after the last elections. The Basque Country, which speaks Basque (though a large majority speak Spanish as a mother toungue) , not related in any ways to Spanish or French, has a very strong nationalist sentiment, as you might know. And also a strong terrorist nationalist group, ETA. However, Basque nationalism, in opposition to Catalonian nationalism or most other European nationalists, is right-wing and not left-wing. Indeed, Basque nationalism was historically very close to the Catholic Church and was founded as a response to the influx of progressive/socialist ideas in the south of the Basque Country from ethnic Spanish workers. The main Basque nationalist party, founded in 1895, is the Basque Nationalist Party, commonly known as EAJ-PNV, which stands for Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco (in France, EAJ-PNB). EAJ, generally centre-right/Christiandem, is a member of the European Democratic Party (along with the French MoDem and Italian PD), and formerly a member of the Christian Democrat International (CDI). EAJ stands for Basque independence, but has rejected violent means of attaining it (ETA). All Basque regional Presidents since the Statute of Autonomy have come from EAJ-PNV. In past elections, however, it has often sided with left-wing Basque nationalists, because the EAJ is also a kind of a large tent for Basque nationalists (the ETA was formed out EAJ in the ’50′s). For example, in 2005, it ran a common list with Basque Solidarity (Eusko Alkartasuna, EA, which split from the EAJ in 1987). Other Basque nationalist parties are smaller and socialist: EA, Aralar. Batasuna, ETA’s now-illegal political arm, has run in most elections since 1980 under various names, most recently as the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (EHAK or PCTV) in 2005, which won 12.5% and 9 seats. Batasuna’s support fluctuated from 8% to 15%. The Spanish Socialists, PSOE, are known as the PSE-EE, which stands for Partido Socialista de Euskadi – Euskadiko Ezkerra. Euskadiko Ezkerra, or Basque Left, was a Basque nationalist party which merged with the PSE in 1991. The Popular Party, PP, the party most strongly opposed to the Statute of Autonomy and Basque nationalism, is considerably weaker in the Basque Country (likewise in Catalonia). The local section thingy of the United Left, the Spanish communist/ecosocialist front, is known as Ezker Batua – Berdeak (Basque United Left-Greens) or EB-B.
The 2005 results. EHAK is compared to the 2001 result of Euskal Herritarrok, which was how ETA Batasuna called themselves then.
EAJ-PNV + EA 38.67% (-4.05%) winning 29 seats (-4) [22 EAJ, 7 EA]
PSE-EE 22.68% (+4.78%) winning 18 seats (+5)
PP 17.40% (-5.72%) winning 15 seats (-4)
EHAK 12.44% (+2.32%) winning 9 seats (+2) banned 2008
EB-B 5.37% (-0.21%) winning 3 seats (±0)
Aralar 2.33% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)
The resulting government was formed by 9 EAJ, 3 EA, and 1 EB-B. Juan José Ibarretxe, incumbent lehendakari (President) was re-elected.
In the 2008 Spanish elections, the PSE-EE made important gains in the Basque Country, placing 11% ahead of EAJ (PSE-EE 38%, EAJ 27%).
The situation ahead of these elections seems very tight, and there is a real possibility that the EAJ could lose the office of lehendakari for the first time since the Statute of Autonomy. EA will be running alone this election, and there is a new party running: Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), a centrist party which merges social liberalism and secularism with anti-nationalism and opposition to the current autonomies system. UPyD was founded in 2007 in the Basque Country, but it did best in Madrid in the 2008 elections (winning 1 seat). UPyD is currently polling quite well nationally. As for Batasuna-ETA, which had its front, EHAK, banned in 2008, they have called on voters to vote for Democracy 3 Millions (D3M), which they organized but was later banned in February 2009. However, D3M will appear on the ballot and votes cast for them will be counted as invalid votes. One poll on February 16 projected around 10% of invalid votes (aka 10% for ETA). The latest poll is from February 23 by Público.
EAJ-PNV 34.1% winning 26-28 seats (+4/+6)
PSE-EE 29.1% winning 23-25 seats (+5/+7)
PP 10.9% winning 9-11 seats (-6/-4)
Aralar 8.4% winning 6 seats (+5)
EB-B 6% winning 4 seats (+1)
EA 5% winning 3-4 seats (-4/-3)
UPyD 3.1% winning 1-3 seats (+1/+3)
On most calculations, a EAJ-EA-Aralar-EBB government would have an absolute majority (38 seats out of 75).
Taking all seat projections, the average forks are EAJ 26-30, PSE 22-28, PP 9-15, EB-B 3-5, EA 0-4, Aralar 1-6, UPyD 0-3.
On a totally unrelated note, I’ll try setting up a quick poll with the poll option on here for the Basque elections. VOTE!
There will also be elections in the farwestern Spanish autonomy of Galicia, the birthplace of Franco and an early nationalist stronghold in the Civil War. For that reason, Galicia is quite a PP stronghold, though there is a sizeable nationalist sentiment. Indeed, a near majority speak Galician, a language close to Portuguese. The PP held an absolute majority from 1989 to 2005, and from 199o to 2005, the Galician President was Manuel Iribarne, a former Francoist cabinet minister and known admirer of Franco. His popularity took a hit after his government failed to respond to the 2002 Prestige oil spill off Galicia. He was also hurt by divisions within the Galician PP. Apart from the PSOE, known as the PSdeG in Galicia, there is a local centre-left nationalistic/devolutionist party, the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG). The BNG includes some outright nationalists, most of them commies, but the BNG abandoned its separatist rhetoric in 1990. That helped them quite a bit electorally. Otherwise, all other parties, such as the IU, are totally inexistent in Galicia.
The 2005 election results. The PP won 37 seats, one short of an overall majority, and the PSOE formed a coalition government with the BNG. The current government includes 9 Socialists, and 5 Galician Nationalists. The President is Emilio Pérez Touriño (PSdeG)
PP 44.9% (-6.7%) winning 37 seats (-4)
PSdeG-PSOE 32.5% (+10.7%) winning 25 seats (+8)
BNG 19.6% (-3) winning 13 seats (-4)
Current polling from February 22 from El Mundo
PP 44.5% winning 36-38 seats (-1/+1)
PSdeG-PSOE 33.1% winning 25-26 seats (±0, +1)
BNG 18.3% winning 12-13 seats (-1/±0)
The forks taking into account all projections say PP 33-38, PSOE 22-27, BNG 11-16. Obviously, if the PP wins 38 seats tomorrow, it’s all over and the PP wins. Gah. If not, then the current PSdeG-BNG coalition could continue.
Ikusi arte bihar!
Just a quick post about the results we have from Sardinia so far, where their counting is taking an awfully long time. However, there is a winner, Ugo Cappellacci of the right-wing coalition. It’s not even close. With 1,658 precincts out of 1,812 reporting, Cappellacci stands at 51.9, while Soru (PD) stands at a mere 42.89%. Gavino Sale of the nationalist IRS has 3.07. The PS candidate has 1.56% and another nationalist has 0.55%.
In the regional council, the right-wing coalition have an even larger lead, with a combined 56.71% for the right-wing coalition against 38.62% for the left. Overall, the PD has done poorly, around 6% less than the current PD components did in 2004. IdV, which is really on an upwards swing, has around 5% of the vote, up from a mere percent in 2004. The PdL is up around 8% from the combined strength of Forza and Alleanza in 2004. There has been minimal movement for the Reformers, UDC, or the UDS. The PSd’Az has done surprisingly well, much better than their dismal 2008 general election showing. They’re at around 4.4%. The MPA has around 2.1%, which I believe is superior to their April 2008 GE results.
Anyways, actual analysis when the final precincts arrive instead of stats and numbers. Stay tuned.
Venezuelan voters approved yesterday a new (Chavista) constitution by an important margin, less than two years after rejecting a similar one by a very narrow margin. The new constitution only removes term limits on the President, National Assembly, regional legislators, and Governors. This differs with the 2007 proposal, because that constitution also included many Chavista planks, such as a 36-hour workweek, voting age at 16, ending the central bank’s autonomy, administrative reorganization (aimed at strengthening the President’s powers), seven-year presidential term, and so forth. Polls in this campaign were all over the place, from 60% NO to 60% YES. However, exit polls last night all showed a NO victory between 58% and 53%. Early returns (from western states like Zulia, the stronghold of the opposition) even favoured the NO.
However, the CNE was actually quick to post its results up, which indicated a YES victory with around 54%, with a turnout of 67%. In 2007, voters rejected two proposals by a very narrow margin: around 51% NO with 56% turnout. Without further adue, the results.
Before anyone asks, the referendum seems to have been judged as transparent and clean on average. The NO vote is concentrated in the western states, such as Zulia, a stronghold of anti-Chavez opposition. The NO also won in the Caracas suburban state of Miranda, which I believe is the wealthiest state and has the highest HDI of all Venezuelan states. It was also rejected in the insular state of Nueva Esparta, which includes the touristy island of Margarita and other wealthy places.
On a totally unrelated note, those waiting for Sardinian results can wait with me over here. Also a good opportunity to polish up your electoral Italian!
The autonomous Italian island of Sardinia is voting to renew its regional council and President on February 15 and 16. Sardinia, which used to be a traditionally DC region, is now one of Italy’s battleground regions in regional and national elections. In 1999, the right-wing candidate, Mauro Pili won a runoff against the left, but his coalition won 28 seats, while the left won 30 seats (out of 64). A succession of unstable centre-right governments followed, until the rich businessman (listed by Forbes as one of the richest persons on the planet in 2001) Renato Soru easily defeated Pili in the 2004 election. The left won all but one of Sardinia’s provinces in the 2005 provincial election, on the back of the right’s nationwide unpopularity. Prodi’s coalition won the island in 2006, but it voted for Berlusconi in 2008 by a considerably large margin.
Presidential election, 2004
Left (Renato Soru) 50.13
Right (Mauro Pili) 40.53
Giacomo Sanna (PSd’Az, SN) 3.77
Mario Floris (UDS) 3.64
Gavino Sale (IRS) 1.91
Regional Council, 2004
Left 6 (PRC 5, PCI 1)
Ugo Cappellacci, the PdL candidate, and son of Berlusconi’s fiscal advisor, has managed to rally the historically left-wing regionalist PSd’Az, which used to be much stronger before, but is now riven by division. He also has the support of the UDC and the right-wing regionalist parties, such as the Sardinian Reformers, a centrist outfit, the Sardinian People’s Party and the UDS.
Renato Soru, a strong-willed wealthy businessman is running for re-election. He is a rival of Berlusconi, and is seen by some as a future leader for the PD nationally. He has already said that if he led the left, he’d re-create Prodi’s 2006 coalition, which went from orthodox communists and hippies to the centre (or even centre-right).
Other candidates include Gianfranco Sollai (nats, including Sardegna Nazione), Gavino Sale (nats, IRS), as PS candidate and one other miscellaneous joke.
Mathematically, and using 2008 data, Cappellacci has the advantage, but voters vote differently in regional elections. Renato Soru is popular (Cappellacci is too, but more unknown to voters). Italy has asinine opinion polling laws, so it’s practically like Saskatchewan general elections in terms of polling out there. I’m predicting that Soru will pull it off, but I have little to back that prediction up.
Still from Haaretz.com’s site, which seems to be the only seat with a good election coverage including percentages (the Knesset took down their Hebrew elections site that had full results in more detail!). With 100% reporting, but without the IDF and diplomatic votes, here are the results. The only change since the last update is one UAL seat was taken off their count and given to UTJ. UAL also fell from 5% to 4%, and Kadima went from 22% to 23%. On a side note, neither Gil and Meimad have actually broken 1% (though they get rounded up to 1%). Meimad-Green Movement took about 0.8%. I believe Gil took around 0.6% or 0.5%. The Green Party epic failed and won barely 0.1%, much less than in 2006, when they were quite close to the 2% threshold.
Kadima 23%: 28 seats (-1)
Likud 21%: 27 (+15)
Yisrael Beitenu 12%: 15 (+4)
Labor 10%: 13 (-6)
Shas 9%: 11 (-1)
United Torah Judaism 4%: 5 (-1)
United Arab List-Ta’al 4%: 4 (±0)
NU 3%: 4 (-5)*
Hadash 3%: 4 (+1)
Meretz-Yachad 3%: 3 (-2)
Jewish Home 3%: 3 (+3)
Balad 3%: 3 (±0)
The surprise of last night was Kadima’s close first place over Likud, which led all the last polls before election day. Obviously, there was a lot of left-wing voters (from Labor and Meretz) who voted Kadima to vote against Likud and prevent Netanyahu from getting first place. That is one reason for Meretz’ surprisingly dismal showing last night. Israeli observers have also claimed that Kadima’s superior organization and GOTV played a part. Labor, which not too long ago was a dominant party in Israeli politics, has suffered its worst electoral defeat ever, with a dismal 10% and 13 seats. Yisrael Beitenu has done well, but not as well as polls indicated, so their victory isn’t a great victory after all. However, they’re now kingmakers. Meretz, which was expected to do better than in 2006, has performed surprisingly poorly. A part of it probably comes from Meretz voters switching over to Kadima at the last minute, as a strategic vote against Netanyahu. Another part may come from die-hard peace voters who resented Meretz’ support of the Lebanon war in 2006 and the recent Gaza invasion, which they see as repudiating Meretz’ peace-foundations. Some of these voters probably switched to Hadash, the bi-communal communist party, which improved on its 2006 showing. The religious parties have remained around at the same levels, losing only minimal ground. Despite talks of an all-time low in Arab turnout, the “Arab parties” have actually won 11 seats (10 in the last Knesset). They seem to have won around 10%, and they’re estimated to be anywhere from 11% to 15% of the voter pool. The Bedouin vote has remained loyal to the UAL by a huge margin, as expected. Hadash is the party of urban Arabs (see the results in Nazareth and Umm-al-Fahm).
Haaretz’ website also has results by city and “sector”, which is quite fascinating. Here are a few cities, major and/or interesting.
- Ariel (settlement deep in the West Bank): Likud 45%, Yisrael Beitenu 31%, Kadima 10%, NU 5%, Shas 3%
- Ashkelon (near Gaza): Likud 31%, Yisrael Beitenu 27%, Kadima 16%, Shas 11%, Labor 6%, NU 3%
- Be’er Sheva (largest city in the south): Likud 28%, Yisrael Beitenu 25%, Kadima 20%, Labor 7%, NU 3%
- Eilat: Kadima 35%, Likud 25%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Labor 8%, Shas 7%
- Haifa (largest city in the north): Kadima 28%, Likud 20%, Yisrael Beitenu 16%, Labor 13%, Hadash 4%
- Jerusalem: Likud 24%, UTJ 19%, Shas 15%, Kadima 11%, NU 7%, Yisrael Beitenu 6%, Labor 6%
- Ma’aleh Adumim (largest West Bank settlement): Likud 45%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Kadima 13%, NU 9%, Jewish Home 5%
- Nahariya (10km from Lebanon): Likud 27%, Kadima 26%, Yisrael Beitenu 22%, Labor 9%, Shas 7%
- Nazareth (69% Muslim 31% Christian): Hadash 52%, Balad 23%, UAL 27%
- Sderot (on Gaza border): Likud 33%, Yisrael Beitenu 23%, Shas 13%, Kadima 12%, NU 7%, Labor 5%
- Tel-Aviv (Israel’s largest city): Kadima 34%, Likud 19%, Labor 15%, Meretz 8%, Yisrael Beitenu 6%, Shas 6%
- Umm-al-Fahm (100% Arab): Hadash 54%, Balad 24%, UAL 19%, Meimad-Green 2
Now, a few interesting “sectors”
- Kibbutzim (traditional Labor stronghold): Labor 31%, Kadima 31%, Meretz 18%, Likud 6%
- Negev Bedouins: UAL 80%, Balad 5%, Hadash 2%
- Jewish Towns (50k to 100k): Kadima 28%, Likud 25%, Yisrael Beitenu 12%, Labor 11%, Shas 8%
- Jewish Towns (100k to 200k): Likud 25%, Kadima 23%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Shas 11%, Labor 8%, UTJ 7%
Now the game of coalition building begins. Labor has already sort-of indicated that it will probably return to the opposition benches to rebuild. The people that say that Netanyahu has a significant advantage in the coalition game are wrong. Even though they like to group all the righties and far-righties together and give them a majority, there’s a big problem. The ultra-Orthodox Shas have rejected working with the strongly secular Yisrael Beitenu, and they would probably be hurt electorally if they ended up in a coalition with them. UTJ and the other small Orthodox parties would also suffer if they worked with a strongly secular party like Yisrael Beitenu. Avigdor Lieberman (YB’s leader) is being actively courted by Livni and Netanyahu, and he seems to be open to both of them for now. A coalition that is becoming more likely is a grand coalition, Kadima-Likud-[Labor or Yisrael Beitenu] in which Livni would be Prime Minister but Netanyahu would have a very important post and would probably be in a position to influence Palestinian policy. It will be interesting to see how this all ends up.
Maps perhaps a bit later, when the Knesset website comes back in a few days hopefully.
98% of the votes are counted in Israel, and it seems like the final votes are just the soldiers and diplomats.
From Haaretz.com’s English election results tracker, here are the results as of now. Results by whole numbers, for now. The National Union’s seat numbers for 2009 are compared to the 2006 NU+NRP total seats (9). Note that the NU-NRP coalition split between the NU and Jewish Home.
Kadima 22%: 28 seats (-1)
Likud 21%: 27 (+15)
Yisrael Beiteinu 12%: 15 (+4)
Labor 10%: 13 (-6)
Shas 9%: 11 (-1)
United Arab List-Ta’al 5%: 5 (+1)
United Torah Judaism 4%: 4 (-2)
NU 3%: 4 (-5)*
Hadash 3%: 4 (+1)
Meretz-Yachad 3%: 3 (-2)
Jewish Home 3%: 3 (+3)
Balad 3%: 3 (±0)
Above 1%, below 2%:
Just time for these quick results for now. More analysis, maps, and coalition juicy details will be posted later.
Switzerland held a referendum today on continuing the labour accord with 25 EU states and extending it to the latest two EU members, Bulgaria and Romania. A 2005 referendum on extending the treaty to ten new member states in eastern Europe passed with 56% in favour. The Swiss first approved the labour deal with the 15 old EU member states with 67% in favour. Three of the four “magic formula” parties; the Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Christian Democrats; were in favour. The right-wing populist and isolationist People’s Party (SVP/UDC) was opposed. Turnout was 50.9%, at par with other Swiss votes.
A bit of a linguistic divide that has been seen in other Swiss referendums on similar issues (such as the 2002 UN one). The Francophone cantons out west are the most liberal and pro-European, and have always been. They gave massive majorities to the YES, which even broke 70% in Vaud. The YES also broke 60% in the Francophone half of the Valais, though it also passed with smaller majorities in the German half of the canton. Generally closer results in the German cantons, but it passed with a large majority in Zurich, Bern, Luzern and Basel; the cantons including the top cities of German Switzerland. In Zurich district, the YES received 72% and in Bern, the YES won 74.8% in Bern. Only the very conservative (and SVP stronghold) Schwyz, Glarus, and Appenzell Inner Rhodes voted against for the German cantons. The agreement was massively rejected by the Swiss Italians, the NO broke 60% in Ticino canton (83% Italian). The Italian districts of the Grisons also rejected the agreement by large margins. Ticino is a traditionally conservative and isolationist canton, despite the SVP’s poor results there (a xenophobic regionalist Lega Nord-like party does well in Ticino, 15% or so). The small Romansch minority seems to have voted in favour, based on district results found here.
More later, maybe.
Liechtenstein, the country nobody can spell correctly, held elections today for its 25-seat Landtag.
There are two (multi-member) constituencies: the five northern muncipalities (Unterland) have 10 seats, and every voter has ten votes. The six southern municipalities, including Vaduz (Oberland) have 15 seats, and every voter has 15 votes. The government calculation of results, just adds all the votes unweighted. While nearly 200k votes are added in the government calculations, the real number of voters is about 18k.
There are two major parties in Liechtenstein, both right-wing conservatives. The Fatherland Union (VU) and the Progressive Citizens’ Party (FBP). The FBP won all elections from 1928 to 1970 (with overall majorities from ’45 to ’58), and again 1974-1978 and 2001 onwards. Historically, the VU (founded as the LVP in 1918) has been the most “left-wing” party of the two right-wingers. It was founded on a reformist and social Christian platform, and merged with a quasi-Nazi party in the ’30s to form the current VU. The VU is now right-wing and quasi-identical to the FBP, but the most left-wing of the two right-wing parties. It is seen as a workers’ party, and supports social rights. The FBP was founded in 1918 as a reactionary conservative/Clergy response to the LVP’s formation. Strong with what is left of farmers and rural people. The FBP supported Prince Hans Adam II’s push for more powers in 2001-2003.
A third party, the Freie Liste (Free List, FL), a social democratic/green party emerged in the late ’80′s and first won seats (2) in 1993. The FL has been critical of Liechtenstein’s banking secrecy, while both the FBP and VU are in favour. Since then, it’s support has gone in amusing zigzags:
1993: 10.4%, 2 seats
1993: 8.5%, 1 seat
1999: 11.6%, 2 seats
2001: 8.8%, 1 seat
2005: 13%, 3 seats
Since 2005, the government has been formed by the FBP, which has 3 out of 5 cabinet seats and the VU (2 out of 5 cabinet seats). The Prime Minister, Otmar Hasler, is from the FBP. The Deputy PM, Klaus Tschütscher, is from the VU.
Despite the media expecting few changes, quite a complete reversal happened. The VU defeated the FBP, while the FL continued it’s zigzag pattern by falling back below 10% and winning only one seat. Liechtenstein is in the midst of a dispute with the EU and Germany over banking secrecy and tax evasion, Liechtenstein specialties. The results should not be interpreted as the wish for a change of policy on the issue, just a change of style in dealing with the issue. The FBP and VU are ideologically quasi-identical, and their position on banking secrecy is probably almost the same. The only party critical to banking secrecy, the FL, lost votes. Here are the results, unweighted. Turnout was 84.6%
VU 47.6% (+9.4%) winning 13 seats (+3)
FBP 43.5% (-5.2%) winning 10 seats (-1)
FL 8.9% (-4.1%) winning 1 seat (-2)
Oberland: VU 48.9% (8); FBP 41.7% (6); FL 9.4% (1). t/o 83.4%
Unterland: FBP 48.2% (5); 44.2% (5); FL 7.6% (0). t/o 86.9%
Otmar Hasler, the current FBP Prime Minister, has resigned. Klaus Tschütscher, the current Deputy PM, is the new Prime Minister, probably at the head of a government which will include only the VU.
Early Knesset elections will be held in Israel on February 10, after the new Kadima leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni failed to put together a coalition government.
The Israeli electoral system is proportional, very proportional, with a 2% threshold (it used to be even lower, 1%!). The main current parties are Kadima, a centrist-liberal party founded by Likud PM Ariel Sharon before he fell into his still-ongoing coma. Several Labor MKs joined the party, including Shimon Peres, now President (purely ceremonial role). Labor was founded as a socialist Zionist party in 1968, but has since trended to the centre in a way similar to Britain’s Labour. There are a number of religious parties. It is very hawkish (although less so than in the past) and most Arab-Israeli wars have taken place under Labor administrations (Sinai, Six-Days, Yom Kippur). Since 1999, Labor has been allied with Meimad, a small religious Zionist party. However, this election, Meimad will be running with the Green Movement.
There are a number of haredi religious parties located on the far-right in Israel. The Shas, the strongest of the religios parties in recent years, are mostly Mizrahi (msotly MidEastern-origin Jews) and Sephardi (Jews of Iberian origin). The Shas are flexible on the Palestinian issue, for example, they are not strongly in favour of Israeli settlements. United Torah Judaism, known as UTJ, is Ashkenazi (European-origin Jews). The UTJ is also opposed to peace negotiations with the PalestiniansThe National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP) is an electoral alliance of mostly religious Zionists. NU-NRP is opposed to a Palestinian state, supporting an Israeli state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
Yisrael Beiteinu is also far-right, but is more secular compared to the other far-right parties. It represents mostly Russian immigrants. Its voters are split between traditional religious voters and secular votes. On the Palestinian issue, Yisrael Beiteinu favours a Palestinian state but supports a hard-line vis-a-vis terrorists. Likud, founded in 1973, is a conservative-nationalist party. It is economcially liberal and capitalist, and hawkish on Arab issues. It moderated its support for Greater Israel under Ariel Sharon, but under its current rightist leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, it has become more hawkish. Most of its voters support Israeli settlements and are opposed to the two-state solution.
Meretz-Yachad, formed in 1992, is the main representative of the left-wing Israeli peace camp. It is strongly anti-clerical and secular.
There are three parties identified by the Israeli media as “Arab parties”. The first one is the United Arab List, which is seen by some as having links to Palestinian terror groups. It was recently banned (as was Balad) by the Israeli Central Elections Committee, but the ban was overturned by the Supreme Court. Hadash, a communist party, is not really a “Arab party” per se, but rather bi-communal. It has a significant Jewish vote, but is generally more Arab. Balad, a socialist party, has had the same problems as the UAL.
The 2006 elections produced the following results:
Kadima 22.02%: 29
Labor-Meimad 15.06%: 19
Shas 9.53%: 12
Likud 8.99%: 12
Yisrael Beiteinu 8.99%: 11
NU-NRP 7.14%: 9
Gil (Retirees) 5.92%: 7
United Torah Judaism 4.69%: 6
Meretz-Yachad 3.77%: 5
United Arab List-Ta’al 3.02%: 4
Hadash 2.74%: 3
Balad 2.30%: 3
Parties above 1%, but below the threshold:
The Greens 1.52%
Ale Yarok 1.29%
The latest poll, from February 6, gives the following seat allocation:
Yisrael Beiteinu 18
United Torah Judaism 6
United Arab List-Ta’al 3
Jewish Home (NRP etc) 2
Yisrael Beiteinu has soared recently, despite its leader, Avigdor Lieberman under investigation for taking bribes. It has recently indicated that it might join a coalition with Kadima, to prevent Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu from taking power in a coalition with the Shas. The Shas are opposed to Yisrael Beiteinu’s more secular platform (legalize civil marriage etc).
The Gil retirees, who surprised observers in 2006 by winning 7 seats, should be destroyed following this election. The Greens, however, who were close to the 2% threshold in 2006, could win seats.