Daily Archives: April 26, 2009

South Africa 2009, an analysis

I posted a short analysis of the results when 11 million votes had been counted. With official results out and seats officially allocated, here is a revised and clearer prediction.

The ANC, of course, dominates, though its stranglehold on power may be loosening. As I said yesterday, if it wasn’t for the Zulus and Zuma, the ANC would have had a very cold shower. The ANC took a big hit in Western Cape, where it probably won a large share of the Coloured and maybe even white (not a whole lot though) vote in 2004. With Zuma, coloured voters seem to have flocked to the DA, giving the DA a result similar to the National Party’s result in WC in 1994. The symbolic loss of the two-thirds majority is also noteworthy.

With 16.7%, the Democratic Alliance has probably reached the maximum it can expect under its present quasi-exclusively white/coloured base. However, 16.7% remains a good result for the official opposition, which faced some tough competition for that role from the Congress of the People. They have made gains almost nationwide, though they lost ground, statistical noise, in one province where they’re very weak anyways. Its result in Western Cape is excellent news for the party, which has managed a quite important feat. However, its map shows a very marked racial divide (whites+coloureds, quasi-exclusively, for the DA), probably even more marked with their huge gains in Western Cape and only small gains in the other provinces. In fact, the DA’s vote in Gauteng Province (21.3%) is statistically quasi-identical to the white population (20%). If the DA wants to expand, they need to expand their base to appeal to blacks.

This is a deceiving result for the COPE. However, it’s not really that surprising. COPE represents something the voters aren’t too fond of and they lack a strong solid base like the ANC has with blacks and the DA has with whites and coloured. They seem stronger in the Cape area, or in the coloured areas. It is undeniable that COPE hasn’t broken through in the black community. For one, it represents something that isn’t widely popular and it’s leadership is far from the populist Zuma whom the black crowds love. Second, Apartheid remains too close and black rights not firmly established yet to let blacks from considering a party other than Mandela’s party and the historic anti-apartheid party. However, with the DA maintaining a narrow base, COPE has the most room to grow, especially if it co-operates decently with the DA.

Opposition parties haven’t really had the chance to prove themselves in power. The only opposition parties that held power at a provincial level since 1994 had much too narrow bases for them to become parties a lot of blacks could vote for in the end: the Afrikaner apartheid National Party (NP) in the Cape and the quasi-exclusively Zulu IFP in KZN. Now that the Democratic Alliance will lead government in Western Cape, probably in coalition with COPE and the Independent Democrats, the opposition that has a realistic chance to expand its electoral base will be able to prove themselves as an alternative to the ANC.

Minor parties had a very rough time. The UDM and the Independent Democrats, anti-corruption parties, suffered a lot from COPE adorning the mantle of good government (ironically enough). All other smaller parties, including VF+, be it the Christian right (ACDP, UCDP) or the various Pan-Africanists have all suffered loses in terms of votes. In 2004, seven parties broke 1% and 10 broke 0.5% (including the Nationals, which are now dead). Today, four break 1% and eight break 0.5%. There appears to be the makings of a consolidation of opposition votes into two parties (DA and COPE) and less and less into a thousand of small fringe parties.

Map is upcoming.

Andorra 2009

The tiny landlocked Principality of Andorra squished in between Spain and France votes today, the fifth elections since Andorra adopted a Constitution and ceased to be a feudal (yes, feudal) principality in 1992. It is still co-ruled by the Bishop of Urgell in Spain and the President of France, though their powers are limited to veto powers over matters affecting Spanish and French interests respectively. Andorra is the only country with Catalan as the official language. However, only 33% of Andorrans are actually ethnic Andorrans. There has been a large number of immigrants from Spain (Catalonia and Galicia especially) but also Portugal and France (mostly North Africans)  who have come to live and work in Andorra.

Andorra is a tax haven, and it’s tax haven status has come under fire after the G-20 summit, especially from Co-Prince (lol) Nicolas Sarkozy, who is all over this fiscal paradise stuff. The current Liberal (PLA) Premier, Albert Pintat, has said that he is committed to providing more information about non-citizens holding bank accounts in Andorra. He is negotiating tax treaties which would give Andorra, in return for fiscal transparency on its part, a removal of the Spanish and French duties on Andorran exports. The PLA is a traditional neoliberal party, and opposes taxation. The opposition Social Democrats (PS) have said that they favour the introduction of low income and value-added taxes as opposed to the current indirect taxation (levied on water, telecommunications and so forth). Another issue is Andorra’s relationship with the EEA. Andorra currently has a loose (economic, social, and cultural) bilateral agreement with the EU. The PS supports a full association agreement with the EEA, but the PLA is more reticent.

Andorra’s General Council of the Valleys has 28 councillors. Of these, half (14) are elected in a nationwide constituency using largest remainders method of PR. Each of Andorra’s seven parishes send two councillors to the General Council. The list winning the most votes in a parish wins both seats.

I outlined the two major parties above, the PLA and PS. The PLA is a neoliberal party, and the PSD is a typical PES party opposed to neoliberalism. Other parties include the Andorra for Change coalition, which includes the Democratic Renewal Party (a PS ally locally in 2005). Andorra for Change rejects any changes to the tax system. The Andorran Greens won 3.5% in 2005 but failed to win a seat.

As of now, 53% of the votes have been counted. For the 14 PR seats, the distribution of votes is as follows:

Social Democratic Party (PS) and Independents 44.87% (+6.8%) [6 PR seats in 2005]
Reformist Coalition (Liberals and local allies) 32.10% (-9.11%) [6 PR seats in 2005]
Andorra for Change 18.82% (+12.58%)
Andorran Greens 3.53% (+0.03%)
National Union for Progress 0.69% (new)

The Andorran Democratic Centre-21st Century alliance won 2 PR seats (10.99%) in 2004, but don’t seem to be running this time.

As for the parishes, here are the results. And here is a map.

Canillo (100%): Liberals 58%, PS 42%. Projection: 2 Liberals (nc)
Encamp (47%): PS 40%, Change 37%, Liberal 17%, Greenies 5%. Projection: 2 PS (nc)
Ordino (48%): PS 40%, Independents (PLA) 35%, Change 24%. Projection: TCTC (2 PLA in 2005)
La Massana (30%): Liberals 57%, PS 43%. Projection: 2 Liberals (nc)
Andorra la Vella (69%): PS 54%, Liberals 26%, Change 14%, Greenies 5%. Projection: 2 PS (nc)
Sant Julià de Lòria (68%): Liberals 58%, PS 35%, Change 13%. Projection: 2 Liberals (nc)
Escaldes-Engordany (62%): PS 42%, Liberals 31%, Change 22%, Greenies 5%. Projection: 2 PS (nc)

Ordino will decide the election outcome. It’s the swing parish! If the PS wins Ordino, it has 8 seats against 6 Liberals. In the PR vote, they’ll probably get 6 seats, against 4/5 Liberals, 3 Change, and potentially one Greenie. So, my calculations give around 14 seats for the Socialists, 10 or 11 Liberals, 3 Change, and maybe one Greenie (giving 10 Liberals in that case).

Iceland 2009

Iceland, one of the countries worst hit by the financial crisis, but also home to one of the oldest Parliaments in the world (the Alþingi), held an early election yesterday. In 2007, the centre-right Independence Party (I) won, but its coalition with the agrarian liberal Progressive Party fell apart to the Progressive’s historically low result. As a result, a coalition was formed with the left-wing Socialist Democratic Alliance (SDA). When Iceland found itself in quasi-bankruptcy early this year, Prime Minister Geir Haarde (I) resigned and a new interim left-wing government was formed with Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (SDA) as Prime Minister.

The main issue these days in Iceland is joining the European Union (EU) and the Eurozone. Sigurðardóttir has made it clear that EU/Eurozone membership will be her top priority. Iceland is currently not a member of the EU due to fear that it would hurt its fishing. Fishing quotas remain an important issue in Icelandic politics.

The Independence Party, formed when Iceland was a part of Denmark (hence the name), has won a plurality of the vote since Icelandic independence in 1944. The party supports Iceland’s NATO membership but opposes EU membership. Its traditional coalition partner has been the rural centre-liberal Progressive Party, a traditional Scandinavian “centre” party (meaning agrarian). The Progressives, like many of these Scandinavian centre parties, have been becoming more and more urbanized and liberal as opposed to rural geezers. In fact, they just changed their EU policy to support EU membership. The Social Democratic Alliance was formed in 1999 by a merger of the social democratic Social Democrats, the democratic socialist post-communist People’s Alliance, the Women’s Alliance, and the left-populist National Movement. Despite the SDA’s attempt to unite the left against the Independence Party, this attempt failed since left-wing elements in the People’s Alliance founded the Left-Green Movement, a “green socialist” party similar to other Nordic green-left parties. The Left-Greens are opposed to EU membership (and NATO membership), even though they are currently in the interim coalition with the pro-EU SDA. The Liberal Party had seats in the last Parliament. Founded in 1998, the Liberals are actually a markedly right-wing party opposed to immigration, fishing quotas (a big issue), and EU membership (another big issue). It does, however, support Icelandic membership in NATO. The party recently split, with one MP joining the Independence Party and another MP joining the Progressives. There is also a new party, the Citizens’ Movement, which was formed at the height of the economic crisis. It seems to be in the populist protest party mold, demanding “democratic reforms”. Anyways, the results.

Social Democratic Alliance 29.8% (+3%) winning 20 seats (+2)
Independence Party 23.7% (-12.9%) winning 16 seats (-9)
Left-Green Movement 21.7% (+7.4%) winning 14 seats (+5)
Progressive Party 14.8% (+3.1%) winning 9 seats (+2)
Citizens’ Movement 7.2% (+7.2%) winning 4 seats (+4)
Liberal Party 2.2% (-5.1%) winning 0 seats (-4)
Democracy Movement 0.6% (+0.6%) winning 0 seats (nc)

The Independence Party, held as responsible for the financial crisis in Iceland, has been severly punished at the polls, giving it its worst result since 1946 and its first second-place finish. Results also show that fishing stuff seem to be the least of Icelandic concerns: the Liberals, who made quotas their big issue, were shut out of Parliament. Maybe it has something to do with Liberal divisions, though probably not entirely. However, it isn’t as bad as pollsters predicted: most saw the LeftGreenies in second with around 25-26%. It is very likely that the current interim SDA-LeftGreenies government (34 seats, 2 more than a majority) will form a government. They also won’t need to rely on Progressive outside support anymore. However, it will be interesting to see what gets done about EU membership: the SDA and Progressives (29 votes) support it, while Independence and Left-Greenies oppose it (30 votes). I don’t know how the Citizen thingee is on this issue.