Monthly Archives: May 2009
Europe 2009: Germany
Germany, which has the largest delegation to the European Parliament with 99 seats, will vote on June 7, along with a number of other countries. Unlike most other large countries, Germany’s delegation size will not be reduced, as it had 99 MEPs at the time of the 2004 election.
Germany uses a nationwide constituency with a 5% threshold for seats. However, there is a regional element in that parties may run purely regional list, multi-regional lists, or national lists.
At the time of the 2004 election, the Social Democrats (SPD) under Gerhard Schröder were the largest party in a Red-Green coalition. At the time, Schröder’s SPD was massively unpopular and trailed the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister, the Christian Social Union (CSU) by a wide margin. The SPD narrowed the gap with the CDU-CSU later and was only narrowly defeated by the CDU-CSU in the September 2005 federal elections. As a result, Angela Merkel (CDU) became Chancellor of a Grand Coalition government with the SPD. New elections are due in September 2009.
The 2004 results represented the SPD’s lowest point since 1945. These lost votes went mainly to the Greens, who won their best European result ever and also the Linke.PDS, the post-communist party based in East Germany. The votes for the CDU/CSU also fell from a highpoint in 1999, allowing the liberal FDP to win seats for the first time since 1989.
CDU 36.51% winning 40 seats (-3)
SPD 21.52% winning 23 seats (+10)
The Greens 11.94% winning 13 seats (+6)
CSU 8.00% winning 9 seats (-1)
PDS 6.12% winning 7 seats (+1)
FDP 6.07% winning 7 seats (+7)
The Republicans (Nazis-lite) 1.88%
Since I miss the Weimar parties, I’ll note that the Catholic Zentrum (which used to be one of Weimar’s main parties and a basis for most government) polled 0.1% of the votes.
The SPD can only improve on its disastrous 2004 result. However, the governing CDU-CSU is still far ahead of the weak SPD in national polling. Angela Merkel’s CDU has been the one benefiting from the government’s good decisions, even if they may have been made by SPD cabinet ministers.
The CDU-CSU, which won 44.5% in 2004 has obviously seen it’s share of the vote dip to roughly 37-39%, to the benefit of the SPD, which has rebounded to 25-28%, a relatively weak rebounce considering how poorly it did in 2004. It will be hard for the Greens to hold their nearly 12% of the vote, though polls indicated they should either dip slightly to 10-11% or hold steady at 12-13%. However, polls tend to overestimate the Greens, though they also overestimated the CDU-CSU and SPD in 2004. The FDP and Linke closely follow each other, though the liberal FDP, on an upswing these days, is at 9-10%. Polling 9 or 10% would the FDP’s best Euro result ever. Linke would also have it’s best result (though they’re only running in these elections since re-unification), with polling indicating around 7-8%.
In terms of top candidates, the CDU and SPD have unsurprisingly picked some big names: Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament, for the CDU and Martin Schulz, the leader of the PES caucus for the SPD. The Greenies, FDP, and CSU have opted for MEPs, while the Linke top candidate is a Bundestag rep, Lothar Bisky. Bisky immigrated to East Germany at 18.
An interesting situation may be arising in Bavaria, regarding the 5% threshold. The threshold is a national threshold, so the CSU needs to break 5% in Germany as a whole rather than in Bavaria alone. Current polls all put the CSU at 6% and a poll just in Bavaria puts them at 44% there. While it is unlikely the CSU will drop below that, it is a possibility for the first time ever. Indeed, the Freie Wähler, the independent coalition which ate up a lot of CSU votes in 2008 is running, with its top candidate being the former CSU maverick Gabriele Pauli. Pauli notably supports the transformation of marriage into a seven-year renewable contract.
These elections are widely seen as a major test for the CDU-CSU in the run-up to the September federal elections. The CDU wants to end the Grand Coalition with the SPD and return to a traditional right-wing coalition between the Christian democrats and the FDP. The SPD optimally wants a new Red-Green coalition with the Greenies, though it is extremely unlikely the SPD and Greenies will win a majority together. The question is whether the CDU-CSU and FDP will have a majority or if another Grand Coalition will be necessary. Party analysts and media talking heads will obviously tally up the votes in this election in an attempt to answer that, even though Euros are different than federal elections.
Europe 2009: Final Predictions
My final predictions, less than one week before voting opens officialy in a few countries on June 4. This post is especially long.
Austria: As in other countries, the major (in this case, governing) parties took a drop these last few days in polling. The conservative ÖVP, the junior partner in the Grand Coalition, is now below 30%, with about 28-27%, slightly ahead or tied with its partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ). This drop has resulted in a strenghtening of the vote for the far-right FPÖ (15-16%) and also for the Martin List, which has surged to around 13-15%. The Greens remain flat at 10%, which is their median (and close to their floor… and ceiling). Jorg Haider’s BZÖ will probably be right at the 4% threshold or above, and they’ll win one MEP. ÖVP (EPP)
Belgium: Belgium runs as if it were two independent countries, so I’ll treat this prediction the same way. In Flanders, the CDV should bleed a lot of votes compared to 2004, but should come out narrowly on top. The race for second will be played between the Liberal Democrats (VLD) whose top-candidate, former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is extremely popular in Flanders; and the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang. The Fortuynist Lijst Dedecker, a nationalist list led by a former VLD Senator has dropped considerably, and is probably fifth overall, behind the Socialists, who have also dropped since their excellent result in 2004. However, Dedecker’s relatively good numbers (11%) hinders the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang somewhat. The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), allied with the CDV in 2004 but independent this year, will fight hard to cross the threshold. Overall, the CDV should poll roughly 19-22%, the VLD around 16-19%, the VB around 14-16%, the Socialists 12-14%, Dedecker between 10% and 12%, the Greenies around 8-9% and the N-VA between 6% and 9%. CDV (EPP) In Wallonia, the Socialists, in the middle of yet another corruption scandal, are tied with the liberal Reformers (MR) and… the Greenies. A most recent poll in Wallonia gives the PS and MR at 26% each, with the Greenies trailing closely with 24%. In Bruxelles, the race is between the MR and the Greenies. The race is very hard to call between the PS and the MR, and the Greenies may actually win too! Calling it for the MR, may be wrong. MR (ELDR) CDV (EPP) overall (Belgium-wide)
Bulgaria: The opposition, GERB, should easily win, running atleast 8 to 10 points ahead of the governing Socialists (BSP). GERB should considerably improve on its 2007 by-election result, while the main loser will probably be the Turkish DPS, unless we witness yet another excellent vote management/busing people for Turkey effot by the DPS. GERB (EPP)
Cyprus: No polls have been published to my knowledge, but I assume Christofias maintains a good approval rating, and this should theoretically benefit his Communist Party, AKEL. AKEL (EUL)
Czech Republic: The Social Democrats, ČSSD, are roughly tied with the formerly governing Civic Democrats (ODS). The ODS seems to have come back from badly trailing the ČSSD while Topolanek was still Prime Minister. The new caretaker government does not seem to have hurt either the ČSSD or ODS, unsurprisingly. The Communists (KSČM) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) should keep representation, although both will lose votes compared to 2004. While the Greenies will come in, the SNK-European Democrats, which came third in 2004, will be eliminated. ČSSD (PES)
Denmark: Denmark’s new Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen did not destroy the governing Venstre’s position in polls, albeit it still trails to opposition Social Demcrats (SD). Compared to 2004, the SDs should drop from their high point that year (32.6%) to around 25-27%, while the Venstre should win between 20 and 24%. The Conservatives, Socialists, and Populists (far-right) should improve on their 2004 results, while the two anti-EU outfits as well as the Social Liberals should lose votes. It is important to cite (I just learned this too) that Denmark uses surplus votes in EU elections. The Social Democrats, Socialists, and Social Liberals have formed a electoral alliance, meaning that surplus will get distributed inside those parties, allowing the very weak Social Liberals to keep an MEP. The two anti-EU outfits have also formed an alliance, practically guaranteeing one (maybe both, but that’s uncertain) of them an MEP. Probably People’s Movement against the EU, the most left-wing of the two. SD (PES)
Estonia: The opposition Centre Party has been losing some ground in recent polls, and the governing Reform comes back on top of the game, with a close political divide between the two. If polls are to be trusted, I place Reform between 30 and 33%, the Centre between 28 and 31%. The Social Democrats, who won in 2004 because of their wildly popular top candidate, now-President Toomas Ilves, will drop significantly from their abnormaly high 2004 result to saner results, between 11 and 14%. The conservative Fatherland thingee should lose votes, but hold their MEP. The Greenies will do well, but they probably won’t win any seats. Reform (ELDR)
Finland: The conservative KOK should get first, ahead of the opposition Social Democrats, and the senior government party, the Centre. The True Finns (nationalists) should win their first MEP. While the Swedish People’s Party will probably lose its MEP, the Greens and Left League should hold their ground well. KOK (EPP)
France: See separate post. UMP (EPP)
Germany: The CDU/CSU should have no problems coming out on top, although the Social Democrats will obviously improve on their disastrous 2004 results, while the CDU/CSU will undoubtedly take a hit. The CDU seems to be rebouding a bit, with the combined CDU/CSU polling at around 37-39%, still below their 44.5% in 2004 but a good result for a senior governing party in a country hard-hit by the recession. While the Greenies are holding remarkably well at around 12%, their 2004 level, the FDP and Linke, both at 9%, are gaining compared to their 6% in 2004. In Bavaria, the CSU continues the downwards trend observed in the 2008 Landtag election, when it dropped below 50%. A poll placed it at 44%, roughly it’s 2008 level, but much lower than it’s 2004 level (57.5%). Freie Wähler, the independent coalition which ate up a lot of CSU votes in 2008 is running, with its top candidate being the former CSU maverick Gabriele Pauli... More in a longer, special post for Germany. CDU/CSU (EPP)
Greece: PASOK is holding relatively steady, but there’s definitely no love for them either, even though there’s also a lot of discontent in the governing conservative ND. There isn’t much love for the radical left or radical right either. The Communist Party and the Radical Left will either continue flat or slide down slightly. The Popular Orthodox Rally, LAOS, is losing its popularity in polls and its seat could be in danger. The main winners are the Greenies, which I mentioned in my last post. Back then I was cautious, saying that they would have a hard time getting a second seat. Today, they’re riding third in polls and could even break 10% and win 2 seats. Remarkable for a party which won 0.7% in 2004 and barely 1% in the 2007 election. The political discontent in Greece is not only discontent with ND, it’s a discontent with every party, rightfully so. And this clearly benefits the Greenies. The Greens are a force to watch for in Greece. PASOK (PES)
Hungary: I doubt anybody that is reasonably sane could disagree with the assessment that Fidesz will win a huge victory in Hungary. The debate is over whether or not they break 70% – not 60%. The new Prime Minister hasn’t done anything to help the Socialists (MSZP), who are going to get eaten alive brutally on election day by Fidesz. There is a 5% national threshold, and so far only Fidesz and the MSZP are clearing it. If one minor party clears it, it will be the far-right Jobbik. Remarkable how Hungary seems to be transforming into a tw0-party country. Fidesz (EPP)
Ireland: Fianna Fáil will take a large hit in these elections, with the possibility of falling third behind Fine Gael and Labour. However, since Ireland has a small delegation and uses STV, seat counts may end up differently. At this moment, despite polling well, Fine Gael could lose a seat, falling from 5 to 4. Fianna Fáil will win around three, though falling to 2 or rising to 4 is not out of the question. Labour will gain Fine Gael’s lost seat, giving them a second seat. In the South, Labour has a chance at snatching a potential third seat from Kathy Sinnott, an Independent supported by Libertas. Sinn Féin might run into sum problems with Fianna Fáil in Dublin, but should hold its seat. While the first Independent, Marian Harkin should be safe, Kathy Sinnott will need to fight Labour hard, as mentioned earlier. On a side note, it’s make-or-die for the leader and founder of Libertas, Declan Ganley in the North-West. Polls place him at 9%, which makes it unlikely that he would win, but he could get some anti-Lisbon transfers from the Shinners… A post concerning this election, local elections, and two Dublin by-elections held the same day will be made a bit later this week. Fine Gael (EPP)
Italy: The question now is not whether Berlusconi will win (Berlusconi is the PdL’s top candidate in this election) but whether PdL will break 40% of the votes. The weak and divided opposition, the Democratic Party, is fighting to break 25% and saw as many MEPs it can. In addition to PdL’s potential 40%+ result, PdL’s junior coalition partner, the nasty Lega Nord is polling over 10% nationally (signaling very disturbing results, 25-35% range in Padania for the Lega). The PD might take solace in seeing it’s quirky little ally, the anti-corruption Italia dei Valori of judge Antonio di Pietro, polling a good result, 7 or 8%. The Christian democrats (UDC) are hovering above the new 4% threshold and should save a few seats. The far-left and the Communists, shut out of Parliament for the first time since atleast 1946 in 2008, formed two coalitions to clear the 4% threshold. Ironically, the fact that they formed two of equal strength seems to be killing their chances at a good resistance this year. The first coalition, Sinistra e libertà, composed of the PS, Democratic Left (Communist dissidents) and the Greenies, is polling around 2-3.5% right now, which would kill the PS and Greenie MEPs. The other coalition, the classical Communist one composed of the Refoundation Communists and the Italian Communists is slightly ahead of Sinistra e libertà, and is polling between 2 and 4%. The magic threshold is 4%, and the Communist coalition will have to fight very hard to make it, but they probably will fall short. PdL (EPP)
Latvia: Latvia has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. Opinion polling is hard to come by. There has been one poll, which puts the Harmony Centre, a Russian-minority party in the lead, with the conservative opposition New Era second. Harmony Centre should sit with the PES. However, Latvia has only 8 MEPs and due to the fragmentation of politics here, it is very likely that the winning party will win only one of the eight seats. SC (PES)
Lithuania: Remarkable political stability in Lithuania! The governing Homeland Union (TS-LKD) is still leading, with like 15 or 17%. The far-right Order and Justice is second, the opposition Social Democrats are third. No Lithuanian party will break 20%, and a number of parties will be sharing Lithuania’s 12 seats in Bruxelles. TS-LKD (EPP)
Luxembourg: Polls are very hard to find in Luxembourg, though I think it’s very likely the CSV will win. There should be little or no movement in terms of seats. CSV (EPP)
Malta: Labour is far ahead of the governing Nationalist Party, and the green party, AD, is down significantly from the 10% they were lucky to poll in 2004. The probable split is yet another 3/2 for Labour. Labour (PES)
Netherlands: There was some speculation as to if Geert Wilder’s far-right PVV could top the poll, seeing as some (generally bad) pollsters have them leading all other parties. Thankfully, he probably won’t. The sane parties, the Christian Democrats (CDA) should get first and Labour (PvdA) will fight PVV for second, though I think Labour will end up second in the long run. A poll indicates that PVV might be only in fourth place, behind the ‘liberal’ VVD. Apart from PVV, D66 will be the other main winner in this election. The SP will manage a few percentage points higher, but will probably stay under 10%. ChristianUnion-SGP (electoral alliance between slightly sane Christian right [CU] and totally insane ultra-orthodox Calvinist Christian right that closes party website on Sundays [SGP]) should perform at its 2004 levels. The liberal-conservative VVD should suffer, as will the governing CDA and PvdA. CDA (EPP)
Poland: I think, like Hungary, it’s certain beyond all reasonable doubt that the governing PO will win massively. The question here is if they break 50%. While early polls gave them a good chance, they probably won’t. The far-right will get wiped out. But, as I said in December: Turnout gives weird results here, as seen in 2004. So take these with a grain of salt. Maybe a bag of salt. PO (EPP)
Portugal: These elections will be a dry-run for the September general elections in Portugal. The governing Socialists (PS) are likely to pull first place again, ahead of the conservative Social Democrats (PSD). However, the PS is unlikely to keep the 45% it won and 2004 and it’s large delegation. The PSD will trail the PS, but do relatively well. The main winners will be the Left Bloc (the libertarian part of the far-left), which could double its vote-share and the Communist-led Communist-Green CDU, which will poll slightly more than its 2004 result (9%). If the conservative CDS/PP will not ally itself with the PSD this year and will poll relatively badly. PS (PES)
Romania: The governing coalition, and especially Prime Minister Emil Boc (Democratic-Liberal, PD-L) is unpopular, although the government parties remain in front. However, the race is between Boc’s party and the senior governing party, the PD-L and the Social Democrats (PSD). The race will definitely be a race to watch, though I predict the PSD will poll first. The opposition National Liberals are likely to improve on their pretty low 2007 results, as will the Hungarian UDMR. The far-right Greater Romania (PRM) crowd will likely get in, unlike in 2007, a very bad year for the PRM (2008 was hardly better). The PRM will be right above the 5% threshold. The President’s daughter, Elena Băsescu, who has no program and is running on her looks and name could well break 5% and be elected MEP. The Hungarian Independent, László Tőkés who got 3.4% in 2007 is not running for re-election. His votes should help the UDMR. PSD (PES)
Slovakia: It’s obvious the governing social “democratic” Smer wins by a large, large margin over the opposition conservative SDKÚ-DS. The main losers should be all the EPP parties, SDKÚ-DS, Mečiar’s ĽS-HZDS (which will be suffering massive loses), Christian Democrats, and the Hungarian MKP. Smer’s fascist friends, the SNS, should have little trouble getting past the 5% threshold. The SNS could even win 2 seats, though probably not second ahead of SDKÚ-DS. Smer (PES)
Slovenia: The new dominant parties in Slovenia will win this election, defeating the old parties. The opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), a conservative party, should poll a bit more than the governing Social Democrats (SD). Compared to 2004, however, both the SDS and SD should improve their popular and seat standing considerably. The new Zares, a member of ELDR, should also win an MEP (or two, even). The Christian democratic New Slovenia (NSi), the surprise winners in 2004 should lose at least one, if not two of their two MEPs. The Liberal Democrats, which used to dominate Slovenia, should be shut out. The Pensioners, Nationals, and Populists will not elect any MEPs, as in 2004. SDS (EPP)
Spain: The opposition Popular Party (PP) is ahead of the governing Socialist Party (PSOE), though not by a large margin. Despite being hurt by the financial crisis, the governing PSOE manages polling numbers that most European Socialists can only dream to have. This is due to the polarization of Spanish politics and the fact that the PP (and PSOE) have little space to fluctuate (roughly between 38% and 44%). The PP should narrowly defeat the PSOE, though the PP will fight to keep all its seats, especially with the loss of 4 MEPs nationally. The liberal-unionist UPyD should enter the European Parliament, and the communists (IU) could potentially make some very minor gains (popular vote wise, not seat wise). The nationalists have organized into two broad coalitions. CEU, Coalición por Europa, is the new alliance formed between the 2004 Galeusca-Pueblos de Europa and Coalición Europea. This is the right-wing alliance of nats (Basque EAJ, Catalonian CiU from Galeusca + CC, minor Valencian, Majorcan, and Andalusian nats from CE). The Galician BNG, which was part of Galeusca (thus the Gal) in 2004 is now in the left-wing alliance of nats, Europa de los Pueblos which includes the tiny Spanish Greenies. EdP includes the Catolonian ERC, BNG, the leftie Basque nats (Aralar and EA), and smaller nats from Majorca and Aragon. CEU should dominate for the nationalists, though it will probably lose votes (but not seats) compared to Galeusca’s 2004 result. The Europe of Peoples thing should hold the ERC’s only seat and stay flat (or dip slightly) in terms of votes. It will be interesting to see the effect of the new Socialist-PP coalition in the Basque Country. PP (EPP)
Sweden: While it’s pretty certain the Social Democrats will get first place (it would be practically impossible for the governing Moderate Party to get first place) and improve considerably on their disastrous 2004 result (from 24.6% to above 30%), the interesting thing to watch will be whether the combined governing right-wing parties (Moderate, Liberals, Centre, Christian Democrats) will run ahead of the Red-Green opposition (SD, Left, Greenies). Polling at this state does not indicate this to be a serious possibility. At any rate, the main losers in the circle of establishment parties will probably be the smaller the Left, Centre and potentially Christian Democrats all at the benefit of the Moderates and SDs. The Liberals should fall a bit, or at best for them, improve slightly on their 2004 result. The Greens are picking up dissatisfied SD voters, which, despite its probable gains, is led by an unpopular and poor leader. The Greens could break 10%, doubling their 2004 share. As to the euroskeptic June List, polling gives them only 1-2%, much lower than the 14.5% it won in 2004. However, polls in 2004 didn’t see the JL’s excellent result, so colour me unconvinced that they’ll poll only 1%. Another party will probably come in, the anti-copyrights law Pirate Party, which is riding on a wave of popularity with young voters after the authorities convicted the owner of the Pirate Bay, a popular illegal download site on the interwebs. Polling places them at around 5-8%. The Feminist Initiative, which has one seat following a Liberal defection, will poll crumbs and lose that seat. It will be interesting to see if the xenophobic far-right Swedish Democrats break the 4% threshold to get an MEP as some polling suggests. Or maybe the June List will keep them low. SD (PES)
United Kingdom: The recent MP’s expense scandal in the United Kingdom has changed this election significantly. The governing Labour Party is at its lowest point in national polling, trailing the Liberal Democrats by a few points and hopelessly miles behind the Conservatives. However, the Conservatives have also been hurt by the scandal, and while it has little to no effect on their Westminster polling, it does, however, affect their position in these Euro elections. The anti-European UK Independence Party (UKIP), which was set to suffer a humiliating thumping in June, has rebounced significantly with voter dissatisfaction in wake of the scandal. Current polling is fluctuating for them, with some putting them at nearly 20%, others at 10%. The latest polls put the Tories at roughly 28-30%, with Labour anywhere between 23% and 16%. In some cases, this is third place behind either the Liberal Democrats or UKIP. The Liberal Democrats seem to be anywhere between 14% and 20%. The Greens have also benefited from the Labour-killing scandal, and they’re now between 9 and 11%, which would be excellent results for them. In the North West region, the Nazis (BNP) are likely to win a seat which they narrowly missed out on in 2004. To prevent this, the Greenies have gotten the far-left Respect lunatics to drop out. In Scotland, you could see the nationalist SNP polling first place, ahead of Labour. A special post for these elections and locals held the same day will be made shortly. In Northern Ireland, changes to the 3 seats in play there are unlikely. However, these elections will be a test for the anti-Accord Unionist (TUV) led by Jim Allister, MEP. I predict Sinn Féin to hold its seat, and DUP and UUP to win one seat each. Allister should lose his seat to his old party, the DUP. Conservatives (ED)
My revised prediction in terms of member states:
Governing Parties (senior or junior partners) 14
Opposition Parties 13
In European political news today, David Cameron of the British Tories has confirmed that he will attempt to form a anti-federalist liberal group in the new Parliament. So far, the Polish Law and Justice and Czech ODS have confirmed their adhesion. In addition, a number of other parties may be interested. In fact, only the Tories, PiS and ODS would not be sufficent to form a group. A group needs atleast 25 MEPs from atleast six different countries. While the Tories only break 25 alone, they need MEPs from three other countries. So far, Lijst Dedecker from Flanders (NI), the Lega from Italy (UEN), the DFP in Denmark (UEN), the Dutch PVV (NI) and parties from Latvia and Lithuania (UEN) are names being mentioned for potential members. The foundation of this group, which will probably be named European Conservatives (a name used by a similar group in the pre-election days, 73 to 79), will probably kill off UEN and probably Independence and Democracy.
Europe 2009: France
This is my second post on the European elections in France, being held on June 7. In my first post, I outlined the candidates for the main parties, where information was available.
The full list of Left Front candidates:
Île de France: Patrick Le Hyaric (PCF), PCF leader in the Morbihan and director of L’Humanité. Led the PCF list in the Ouest in 2004.
Nord-Ouest: Jacky Hénin (PCF), MEP for the Nord-Ouest, former Mayor of Calais.
Sud-Ouest: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (PG), whiny sod. PG leader and PG Senator for Essonne.
Ouest: Jacques Généreux (PG), anti-liberal leftie economist.
Massif Central-Centre: Marie-France Beaufils (PCF). PCF Senator for Indre-et-Loire and Mayor of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, industrial suburb of Tours
Est: Hélène Franco (PG)
Sud-Est: Marie-Christine Vergiat (DVG), leader of the Human Rights League in Seine-Saint-Denis
In the DOM-TOM constituency, the Left supports a “independent” Overseas Rally list which includes Madeleine de Grandmaison, MEP. Grandmaison was the second name on the 2004 Overseas Rally list led by the Reunionese Communist Party (PCR) leader Paul Vergès which won 28% of the vote in the constituency and one seat. Vergès resigned his seat in 2007, giving it to Grandmaison. The list is led by another PCR pol, Elie Houarau, a former MP.
The negotiations with the Alternatifs and the MRC have failed, but the Left will include the Christian Picquet’s pro-union NPA faction, represented by Michèle Ernis (number 2 in Nord-Ouest), and the CAP, a smallish party founded in 1994 by reformist Communists, ecosocialists, Trots and the like. It’s relevant in the Val-de-Marne and Haute-Vienne. Patrick Charles of CAP will be number 2 in the Massif Central-Centre.
The Movement for France (MPF) and the Hunters (CPNT) are now the French section of the Europarty Libertas. This decision was not well received by everybody, including certain members inside Philippe de Villier’s MPF. While the MPF hasn’t used the Gaullist name a whole lot, it’s former ally, Charles Pasqua’s Rally for France (RPF) did and most of the MPF’s Euro voter base is probably made up of traditionalist anti-Euro Gaullists. Gaullism, staunchly nationalist and anti-Atlanist and also quite statist (despite supporting strongly neo-liberal policies at times, in the 1980s) economically, is in direct opposition to Declan Ganley’s strong Atlantist and neo-liberal feeelings. While de Villiers himself used to be a member of the Republican Party, the liberal component of the old UDF, he now favours “European protectionism”. While this appears on Libertas France’s website, along with opposition to France’s re-integration into NATO, French voters don’t have access to Libertas Europe’s website, which apparently states quite different things. Despite this hypocrisy, voters don’t care about this and most MPF voters probably don’t know about Libertas and Declan Ganley (Ganley happily plays along, acting as a protectionist anti-NATO in France and enthusiastic pro-American flag-waver in Ireland and elsewhere). Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s Arise the Republic (DLR), which claims to be Gaullist, will poll very poorly. Below are the Libertas candidates:
Sud-Est: Patrick Louis (MPF), MEP
Nord-Ouest: Frédéric Nihous (CPNT), leader of CPNT
Île-de-France: Jérôme Rivière (MPF), former UMP deputy for Alpes-Maritimes-1
Ouest: His Excellency the Viscount, Philippe Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon (MPF), MEP
Sud-Ouest: Eddie Puyjalon (CPNT), leader of some sort
Est: Christophe Beaudouin (MPF), former RPR, UMP, DLR
Massif Central-Centre: Véronique Goncalvès (MPF)
DOM-TOM: Erika Kuttner-Perreau (MPF)
The far-right National Front (FN) candidates:
Nord-Ouest: Marine Le Pen, MEP (Île de France)
Est: Bruno Gollnisch, MEP
Ouest: Brigitte Neveux, FN candidate in the 2004 regional elections in Bretagne
Île de France: Jean-Michel Dubois, Île de France regional councillor
Massif Central-Centre: Patrick Bourson
Sud-Ouest: Louis Aliot
Sud-Est: Jean-Marie Le Pen, MEP
Carl Lang, FN MEP for the Nord-Ouest will run a dissident FN list called “Parti de la France” (PDF) and Jean-Claude Martinez, FN MEP for the Sud-Ouest will run a dissident FN list supported by the PDF. The FN will not run a list in the Outre-Mer region.
I posted the Green-Europe Ecologie candidates in my last post, but we’ve got new Greenies on our radar. This is the Independent Ecological Alliance (AEI). The AEI is the other ecolo alliance formed by Waechter’s centrist MEI, the remnants of Lalonde’s Ecology Generation (GE, once the main French green party with the Greenies themselves) and the France en action scientologist/raëlian kooky sect. Its candidates include Waechter (East) and a slightly insane old signer, Francis Lalanne in the South-West. Before people go crazy over the AEI, a few notes. On the 23rd spot on Lalanne’s list is Jean Brière, a former Greenie expelled for being anti-semitic and I think holocaust denier. People have also accused Waechter and the MEI of being closet far-rightists. He’s also very egomaniacal, even by French standards.
The UMP was the last major party to finalize their full lists. The UMP took a long time because the UMP is run by Nicolas Sarkozy and he does the lists, more or less. In addition, the UMP has needy allies to please, most notably the New Centre, which stood no chance alone. I show only the top 5 in each region.
1 – Françoise Grossetete (Loire): MEP
2 – Damien Abad: President of the Young Centrists. NC
3 – Dominique Vlasto (Bouches du Rhône): MEP
4 – Gaston Franco (Alpes-Maritimes): Former RPR deputy
5 – Nora Berra (Rhône): Candidate in 2004 (5th spot)
1 – Dominique Riquet (Nord): Mayor of Valenciennes. Radical
2 – Tokia Saifi (Nord): MEP. Radical
3 – Jean-Paul Gauzes: MEP
4 – Pascale Gruny (Aisne): Saint-Quentin municipal councillor
5 – Philippe Boulland (Oise): Oise general councillor
1 – Michel Barnier: Minister of Agriculture
2 – Rachida Dati (Paris): Minister of Justice, Paris municipal councillor and Mayor of Paris-7
3 – Jean-Marie Cavada (Paris): MEP, NC/ACDE
4 – Marielle Gallo (Paris): Modern Left
5 – Philippe Juvin (Hauts-de-Seine): Mayor of Garenne-Colombes and VP of the CG92.
1 – Christophe Bechu (Maine et- Loire): President of the Maine-et-Loire General Council
2 – Elisabeth Morin (Vienne): MEP, Poitou-Charentes regional councillor (ex-President)
3 – Alain Cadec (Côtes d’Armor): Côtes d’Armor general councillor. Adjoint to the MoDem Mayor of Saint-Brieuc
4 – Agnès le Brun (Finistère): Mayor of Morlaix and Finistère general councillor.
5 – Bruno Drapron (Charente-Maritime): Saintes municipal councillor. NC
1 – Dominique Baudis (Haute-Garonne): Former UDF Mayor of Toulouse and deputy. 1994 UDF-RPR list top candidate.
2 – Christine de Veyrac (Haute-Garonne): MEP, President of the UMP Fed in Haute-Garonne
3 – Alain Lamassoure (Pyrénées-Atlantiques): MEP
4 – Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmidt (Pyrénées-Orientales): Adjointe to the Mayor of Perpignan
5 – Franck Proust (Gard): Gard general councillor
1 – Joseph Daul (Bas-Rhin): MEP, President of the EPP-ED Parliamentary Group
2 – Véronique Mathieu (Vosges): MEP, Radical ex-CPNT
3 – Arnaud Danjean (Saône-et-Loire): Ran against Arnaud Montebourg in ’07.
4 – Michèle Striffler (Haut-Rhin): Adjointe to the Mayor of Mulhouse. Modern Left.
5 – Benjamin Develey (Marne): Reims municipal councillor
1 – Jean-Pierre Audy (Corrèze): MEP
2 – Sophie Auconie (Indre-et-Loire): Tours municipal councillor. NC
3 – Brice Hortefeux (Puy-de-Dôme): Minister of Labour, Auvergne regional councillor (former MEP and top candidate in 2004)
4 – Catherine Soullie (Loiret)
5 – Jean-Yves Hugon (Indre): Former deputy
Marie-Luce Penchard (Atlantic candidate and ‘top candidate’)
Yolaine Costes (Indian Ocean candidate)
Maurice Ponga (Pacific candidate)
The UMP managed to please its allies with the spots they were promised or demanded. The NC managed to get a good spot for Damien Abad in the Sud-Est. They also got eligible spots in IdF with Cavada and a third one in the Massif-Centre. The Radicals managed to the top two spots in the Nord-Ouest and the second spot in the East. For the Modern Left, only Striffler and Gallo could win seats. 2 MEPs for such a small party would be excellent. The Progressives of Eric Besson gets only a thirteenth spot in IDF, though Xavier Bertrand insists that it’s because Besson didn’t ask for more. The Forum of Social Republicans, Christine Boutin’s joke party got seventh spot in IdF.
The UMP has been transforming into a bit of a French version of the Italian Popolo della Libertà (Berlusconi’s power-machine) with Sarkozy’s quasi-complete control over the party and plastering his face on electoral posters (a la Berlusconi).
The Socialists were able to prevent yet another civil war from erupting over the lists in the Centre region, which voters in the Limousin had rejected. In the end, Laurent Lafaye, the general secretary of the PS federation in Haute-Vienne got third spot over the Mayor of Aurillac in the Cantal (Auvergne). Not that it really matters, since the PS will have to fight to keep the third seat. The PS campaign has failed to gain any speed, and its attempts to incite people to vote “usefully” have failed epically, partly because this is an election by proportional representation. As always, the Socialists have turned to their usual empty rhetoric about l’Europe sociale and la république sociale (yes, despite the uhm, connotations of the term Social Republic).
The MoDem could emerge quite happy out of these elections, due to a variety of factors. On one hand, Bayrou’s hyprocrisy actually convinces some, as Bayrou the centrist is now showing himself off as Bayrou the historical Gaullist. Of course, the French centre has been the most pro-European and pro-NATO party since the days of the Fourth Republic, and the French centre (called the Democratic Centre, CD, back then) voted in favour of a Socialist no-confidence motion presented in response to Charles de Gaulle’s decision to withdraw from the NATO command in 1966 (which France has recently rejoined of course, in the largest ball of hypocrites since I don’t know when). Bayrou, who, as JibJab would say, offers more waffles than a house of pancakes, escapes from scrutiny as a flip-flopper, liar, and hypocrite since the media likes the anti-establishment rebel. Even if said rebel was a proponent of the pensée unique during the 1990s. Of course, the MoDem’s success is not only based on Bayrou. The MoDem has kept the voter base of the old UDF, while the parliamentary caucus is now largely New Centre-UMP. In addition, it has profited from the isolation of the old Christian democrats within the UMP, the internal struggles within the PS, and the left-wards trends of the Greenies (and by consequence losing their centrist voters to the MoDem).
There are a ton of other parties running in this election, parties which nobody hears about. Notably, the Basque EAJ-PNV-PNB is running the Sud-Ouest, and there is also a Batasuna (aka ETA) list there. In the Ouest, the Breton Party, a centrist/social liberal party supporting Bretagne’s independence from France is running. In a number of regions, the old National Centre of Independents and Peasants (CNI) is running independently, a first since probably the ’60’s. The CNI, which used to be the main right-wing party in France between 1945 and 1960 was destroyed by Gaullism and has since fluctuated between the actual far-right and the right-wing of the right. For example, it elected a number of MPs on the FN’s lists in 1986 but developed a close alliance with the RPR shortly thereafter and was an “associate party” of the UMP. Meaning a fringe party which isn’t UMP but nobody knows or cares about. The Liberal Alternative (AL), a libertarian/classical liberal outfit is running in all regions (as far as I know). The Royal Alliance (AR), a souverainiste Royalist party which polled 0.03% is running everywhere, providing some people with a good laugh. In Ile-de-France, the anti-semite/anti-zionist “humourist” Dieudonne is running a “anti-Zionist” thingee.
Apart from these, you have your usual maniacs running. This long list includes Stalinists, official joke candidates, weed-legalization outfits, Humanists, people who want a negative economic growth, and anti-politician outfits.
On a side note, political parties must print their own ballots as they are not provided by the state. Despite running, certain parties are unable to print these ballots and they tell their voters to download them off the interwebs, print them, and cut them out according to the official regulations. The European elections are also an arts-and-crafts project! For example, the Royalists only offer their ballots online since they have no money. The Breton Party will have ballots in all five Breton departments and offers voters in other departments in the constituency to print them out.
Polls have been coming out like crazy these past few days, but I’ve got my preferred stock of pollsters. I usually post the polls on Wikipedia personally, so you can look there for all polls. Here are the pollsters divided into categories of how good they are (or not).
- Ipsos, no questions asked, is the constant top pollster, despite problems here and there.
- Ifop is quality, though they’ve been coming out with weird numbers this season. Below this, you see a marked drop in quality.
- TNS-Sofres and BVA. Both are okayish-to-mediocre pollsters, with rather mixed records. TNS-Sofres has been going downhill in recent years.
- OpinionWay is often favourable to the right. It does its polls for Le Figaro, a right-wing daily.
- LH2 and Viavoice, which are close to the left. Both are rather untested.
- CSA. Total junk. Its last poll in April 2007 was total junk, and they show no signs of improvement. They significantly overestimate the far-right nowadays, due to them using unholy weighting techniques to avoid a new 2002 humiliation.
The latest Ipsos poll:
Ipsos, compared to their last poll.
UMP 26% (-2)
PS 20% (-2)
MoDem 13% (+2)
Greenies 10.5% (+0.5)
NPA 7% (nc)
Libertas 6% (nc)
FN 5.5% (+0.5)
Left Front 5% (nc)
LO 2% (nc)
DLR 1% (nc)
All Others (AEI, AL, PdF, CNI) 4% (+1)
Major parties always tend to drop in the last few days. In 2004, the PS dropped from about 30-32% to 28-29% (its actual result) and the UMP dropped from 20-22% to 16-17% (actual result was 16.6%). Smaller parties are the main benefactors of this drop. Euros are the only elections in France where average turnout is below 50%. In 2004, 57% abstained (the highest rate ever) and is unlikely to show any drop this year. In fact, it will only continue its current drop, and abstention will probably break 60% this year.
In regards to this poll, I think the Left Front (PCF-PG) will be the main surprise in this election and I would certainly not be shocked if they ended up ahead of the NPA. The Left Front has led a modern, dynamic, and interesting campaign. However, the PCF, despite being an anti-EU party (anti-European voters being the most likely to abstain), the PCF’s old voter base, albeit much reduced these days, has above-average turnout in every election and should be no different this time. On the other hand, the NPA is probably the most volatile of all electorates and also the most likely to stay home. In addition, the PCF maintains the remnants of a long-standing close relationship with industrial and manual workers, and the economic crisis should improve the PCF’s standing in that category. The French Trotskysts, on the other hand, have never attracted mass labour, and Besancenot’s ways are more and more unpopular, workers see him as exploiting their problems for his own personal gain. Lastly, while the Left has led a good campaign, the same can’t be said of the NPA. Their candidates are a bunch of political novices and nobodies, and the NPA is more interested by acting like clowns in the streets than electing MEPs.
I will shock people with this hypothesis now. Electorally, given the method of PR used here (highest averages) the real threshold is actually 6% (in the largest seats) and probably something like 15% in the 3-seat Outre-Mer (and around 10% in the Massif-Centre) in most seats. The NPA not getting any seats due to the PCF polling strongly, the LO acting as a spoiler, and a ton of other problems wouldn’t surprise me much. Though I still think they’ll get something, 0 NPA MEPs would not be surprising, really. In a number of regions, they’ll be fighting the PCF-PG to come out on top of that little game, and if the PCF-PG comes out on top in most of these games (in larger constituencies), the NPA will be killed. If, on the other hand, the NPA has a good night (unlikely) and the PCF-PG trails them in most regions, then the Left could be killed.
I don’t think any of the small lists will surprise anyone. The plethora of angry raving Gaullists running here and there will fall flat on their faces. LO will poll 1 or 2 percent though these votes could certainly prevent the NPA from getting the final seat in a few constituencies, especially if the final seat is a close race. The AEI will poll in the 1-2% range, and might steal enough votes from Greenies in some places to prevent them from getting a seat. The performance of the We Hate Marine Le Pen gang will be interesting, though they’ll poll pretty badly due to poor name recognition, lack of structure/grassroots, and people not really knowing them (especially in the Nord-Ouest: voters will choose between Marine Le Pen, which they’ve heard of before and Carl Lang, who probably has 2/3 of voters having no clue who he is). The assorted Jew-haters will poll 1% and people will go back to ignoring them, rightfully.
On a side note and little extra, Ifop recently conducted a poll for the Catholic daily La Croix in regards to Catholics (in the French context, meaning observant Catholics) and atheists. Here are th slightly amusing results.
And now the atheists, also amusing.
The national poll was UMP 26, PS 21.5, MoDem 14, Greenies 8, FN 7.5, NPA 7.5, Left 6.5, Libertas 5.
Mongolia held presidential elections on May 24. Mongolia’s Presidency is largely ceremonial, so this election was symbolic. In 2008, the ex-communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP in English) won a majority of seats in the State Great Khural (coolest legislature name ever, obviously) in a disputed election. The Democratic Party (DP), a social-liberal/social-democratic party, which had formed a coalition government (the DP obtaining the Premiership) with the MPRP between 2004 and 2006, was soundly defeated. Sanjaagiin Bayar became Prime Minister.
In 2005, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the leader of the MPRP was elected President, defeating quite easily Mendsaikhany Enkhsaikhan of the Democratic Party.
This year’s election opposed the incumbent, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, to the leader of the DP and ex-Prime Minister, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. Elbegdorj, who was educated in the United States (Harvard) campaigned on a “urban liberal” anti-corruption platform. Elbegdorj was able to build a coalition including other (much smaller) opposition parties, such as the Civic Will Party and the Greenies. To my surprise, Elbegdorj defeated Enkhbayar. In another good sign, Enkhbayar quickly conceded defeat. In 2008, weeks of political unrest followed the legislative election, which the DP claimed was rigged.
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (DP) 51.24%
Nambaryn Enkhbayar (MPRP) 47.44%
Mongolia probably counts white and null votes in the actual total, so that explains why these don’t add up to 100%. I don’t think they have a Eastern Europe-style “against all” option, but I may be wrong.
Elbegdorj won this election the cities, such as Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. While the MPRP continues to dominate in rural Mongolia, which has been the party’s traditional base, the DP won big in Mongolia’s urban districts. Elbegdorj won over 55% of the vote in Ulaanbataar city.
Germany (President) 2009
The German Federal Assembly elected the ceremonial President of Germany yesterday. The Federal Assembly is composed of 1,224 members of which 612 are from the Bundestag (lower house, Federal Diet) and the other 612 are from the sixteen German Länder. The members for the Länder are chosen by the respective Landtags and each Länd has a number of seats proportional to its population.
The distribution of seats in the 13th Bundesversammlung is as follows:
CDU+CSU: 497 seats
SPD: 418 seats
FDP: 107 seats
Greens: 95 seats
Left: 90 seats
Free Voters (Bavaria): 10 seats
NPD (Nazis): 3 seats
DVU (Nazis): 1 seats
South Schleswig Voters’ Fed: 1 seats
Independents: 2 seats
Incumbent President Horst Köhler (CDU) was elected in 2004 by the first round, when the CDU-CSU and the FDP controlled a majority of the seats. This year, the CDU-CSU and FDP lost their majority, though the 10 Bavarian Free Voters pledged to support Köhler. The SPD nominated Gesine Schwan, its 2004 candidate, while the Left nominated TV actor Peter Sodann and the two Nazi parties nominated Frank Rennicke.
Köhler was re-elected by the first ballot with 613 votes, which is the majority mark.
Horst Köhler (CDU/CSU/FDP): 613 votes (50.08%)
Gesine Schwan (SPD/Greenies): 503 votes (41.09%)
Peter Sodann (Left): 91 votes (7.43%)
Frank Rennicke (Nazis): 4 votes (0.33%)
Abstaining: 10 votes (0.82%)
Invalid: 2 votes (0.16%)
Absent: 1 vote (0.08%)
This is not really supposed to be a surprise or anything, nor is it anywhere close being a “test” for Angela Merkel and the CDU before the September federal elections. One might count it as a symbolic victory, but even that is streching it.
Malawi and Comoros 2009
Malawi held its fourth free multi-party since the advent of democracy in 1993. Albeit shaky at best and still a very poor nation, Malawi remains a democratic nation and miles better in that regard that a lot of African nations. President Bingu wa Mutharinka, elected in 2004 as the candidate of the United Democratic Front (UDF), a liberal party and the leading pro-democracy party since 1993 was re-elected for a second and last term, but under the etiquette of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a liberal party which he founded claiming the UDF was too corrupt. The UDF joined with the main opposition party and dominant party between 1962 and 1993, the nationalist Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Mutharinka’s re-election was far from a surprise, as he presided over an 8% economic growth and remains very popular.
In an election described as mostly free and fair, though the state media was biased in favour of the government, Bingu wa Mutharinka won 66.42% against 30.34% for his nearest rival, John Tembo of the MCP (supported by the UDF). In 2004, Mutharinka had won 35.9% of the vote against 27.1% for John Tembo. In the parliamentary elections (193 seats unicamerial legislature), the DPP won 78 seats, the MCP won 18 seats, the UDF won 12 seats, and two minor parties won one seat each. 23 Independents won seats. In 2004, the MCP won 59 seats, the UDF won 49, an electoral coalition named Mgwirizano Coalition won 27 seats. There were 14 members of minor parties and 38 Independents.
In the above map, Bingu wa Mutharinka is in blue and John Tembo is in red. As is usual for African elections, the vote split along ethnic lines. By the looks of it, Mutharinka clearly won the Tonga people in the north and the Yao (the UDF’s usual base) in the south-east. Though it seems that a Yao district, Mangochi, gave over 60% of the vote to Tembo. His lowest results come from central Malawi, populated by Nyanja people.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros held a referendum on May 17, 2009 on a large-scale reform of the volatile federal state. The referendum was proposed by President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, a Anjouan native, and opposed by the opposition parties and the islands of Grande Comore and Mohéli. This new setup will in fact downgrade the autonomous’ islands presidents to mere Governors and give the Union President power to dissolve Parliament (and extend his term to 2011). 93.9% voted in favour, but only 51.7% of voters bothered to vote. In fact, the opposition had called for a boycott. Symbolically, the new constitution makes Islam the state religion. Sambi is a moderate Islamist educated in Iran (he is often called the “Ayatollah of the Comoros” despite being Sunni), Sudan and Saudi Arabia. However, Sambi has said that he does not plan to make the Comoros an Islamist state.
Swiss referendums May 2009
Swiss voters dealt with two referendums yesterday, both of which were approved on minimal turnout (38%).
Vote 541 was a popular initiative for alternative (or complementary medicine): Zukunft mit Komplementärmedizin
Below is a map of the vote. It sure looks like Swiss Francophones love alternative medicine, ultra-conservatives in Schwyz not so much.
Vote 542 was the approval of the introduction of biometric passports.
I tried hard to find something in this map ressembling a political pattern, but I haven’t found anything that explains the alternative medicine-lovers in Geneva and Jura voting the same way as the rural ultra-conservatives in Schwyz and Uri. The best I can give is that low turnout creates weird results.
Lithuania elected its relatively ceremonial President yesterday in an election which was never really disputed. European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaitė, an independent, was easily elected to the Presidency by the first round with over 69% of the votes. Turnout was only 51.71%
Dalia Grybauskaitė (Ind) 69.08%
Algirdas Butkevičius (Social Democrat) 11.83%
Valentinas Mazuronis (Order and Justice) 6.16%
Waldemar Tomaszewski (Polish) 4.74%
Kazimira Prunskienė (Peasant Popular Union) 3.91%
Loreta Graužinienė (Labour) 3.61%
Česlovas Jezerskas (Ind) 0.6%
Grybauskaitė’s role is ceremonial, but she was popular due to her status as an “outsider” in the local political scene in the country, which has seen a number of corruption scandals.
India’s massive month long election ended today in a Indian-style “landslide” for the governing centre-left United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which includes, among a ton of others, the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress). The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which includes the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fared much worse than expected, as did the new Third Front formed by various regional parties and India’s Communists (CPI and CPIM).
With almost all seats declared, here are the results by coalition:
UPA 252 elected + 4 leading=256 seats (+76)
NDA 162 elected + 1 leading=164 seats (-13)
Third Front 76 elected + 4 leading=80 seats (-28)
Fourth Front 29 elected=29 seats (-35)
I gave a brief overview of the situation as India started voting a month ago in an earlier blog post.
As I said then, detailed analysis at the Indian level would be very hard, so I’ve preferred to continue analyzing by state and Union Territory. Some of this may be wrong, or may change.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1 MP): These remote islands in the Bay of Bengal have only one MP in the Lok Sabha. The BJP has won the seat representing the islands from the INC. NDA 1 (+1)
Andhra Pradesh (42 MPs): India’s 5th most populated state is largely Hindu, but speaks a Dravidian language (Telugu). In a huge surprise, the INC has repeated it’s 2004 landslide in the state, winning 31 seats (two more than the 29 seats won by the INC in 2004). The state’s two Telugu regionalist parties, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (NDA-TRS) won 2 seats and the Telugu Desam Party (3rd Front-TDP) won 6 seats. The BJP won one seat, as did the new left-populist Praja Rajyam Party (led by an actor, which is not uncommon in India), and the “MIM” (I think it’s another Muslim party) won one seat. UPA 31 (+2), 3rd F 6 (-1), NDA 3 (-2), 4th F 1 (+1), Others 1
Arunachal Pradesh (2 MPs): The easternmost state of India high in the Himalayas has 2 MPs. The INC gained both seats from the BJP. UPA 2 (+2)
Assam (14 MPs): Assam is located just below Arunachal Pradesh and has 14 MPs. The INC and a local ally now have 7 MPs, while the BJP has 4. In addition to two Third Front (Assam United Democratic Front) MPs, the regionalist Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the BJP, has one seat. UPA 7 (-2), NDA 5 (+1), 3rd F 2 (+2)
Bihar (40 MPs): Bihar, in northeastern India, is one of the states dominated by regional parties. The largest of these parties is the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a member of the UPA in 2004 (and now totally independent, in a so-called Fourth Front) whose support comes from Yadavs and Muslims. The RJD is locally allied with the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJNSP). The RJD lost the 2005 state elections to a coalition led by the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), which is affiliated with the BJP’s NDA. Ironically, both the RJD and JD(U) originally evolved from the same party. The JD(U), a member of the NDA, won a landslide winning 20 seats (the BJP itself won 11 seats). The RJD took a thumping, as expected, and fell from 25 to just 4 tonight. In addition, the INC holds two seats and there are two Independents. NDA 32 (+21), 4th F 4 (-21), UPA 2 (-1), Others 2 (+1 I guess)
Chandigarh (1 MP): Chandigarh, the richest city in India, is a Union Territory and a city serving as capital of Punjab and Haryana states. The INC holds the seat representing the city since 1999 and held it again this year. UPA 1 (nc)
Chhattisgarh (11 MPs): The central Indian state of Chhattisgarh is a BJP stronghold, which won 10 seats in 2004. The INC holds one seat. This election gives the exact same result. NDA 10 (nc), UPA 1 (nc)
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1 MP): Dadra and Nagar Haveli, formerly part of Portuguese India, is another UT on the west Indian coast. The seat, which was won by the Bharatiya Navshakti Party (BNP), independent of coalitions, in 2004 was won by the BJP today. NDA 1 (+1)
Daman and Diu (1 MP): Daman and Diu, also formerly Portuguese and also a UT has one seat, which was lost by the INC to the profit of the BJP. NDA 1 (+1)
NCT of Delhi (7 MPs): The Indian capital, New Delhi, has 7 MPs. The INC won all seven constituencies in a clean sweap, destroying the BJP (which held one in 2004 and all seven in 1999). UPA 7 (+1)
Goa (2 MPs): The former Portuguese colony of Goa has 2 MPs, one each for the INC and BJP. On a side note, the INC MP has a Portuguese name, interestingly. NDA 1 (nc), UPA 1 (nc)
Gujarat (26 MPs): The state of Gujarat, which, contrarily to what the media likes to think, does not have a huge Muslim population (slightly below national average, in fact) is a generally solid state for the BJP. The INC, which held twelve seats in 2004, limited its bleeding, which was widely expected, to lose only one seat. NDA 15 (+1), UPA 11 (-1)
Haryana (10 MPs): Haryana, a state in northeastern India, is the 3rd richest in India and also the hub of a lot of the Indian industry (IT, and outsourcing). The INC kept all its 9 seats, but the BJP lost its only seat to a new independent outfit, abbreviated HJCBL. UPA 9 (nc), Others 1 (+1)
Himachal Pradesh (4 MPs): Also located in the larger Punjab region but to the north of Haryana, the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh has 4 MPs. A logical suite to the 2007 state elections, in which the BJP won a landslide, the BJP won big in Himachal Pradesh. It has 3 MPs, against one for the INC. NDA 3 (+2), UPA 1 (-2)
Jammu and Kashmir (6 MPs): India’s northernmost and largest Muslim state has 6 MPs. The JK National Conference was allied with the NDA in 2004, but joined the UPA since it now forms government in Kashmir with the INC. The JKNC has won three seats, the INC has won two, and one Independent won in Buddhist Ladakh. UPA 5 (+1), Others 1 (-1)
Jharkhand (14 MPs): The east Indian state of Jharkhand has 14 MPs. The BJP won the majority of the seats in the state, which was won by the INC in 2004. The BJP has eight MPs. The INC has just one, though its local ally, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has two. There are also two Indepedents and one representative of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). NDA 7 (+7), UPA 3 (-7), Others 2
Karnataka (28 MPs): The south Indian state of Karnatka, which includes the city of Bangalore, has 28 MPs. Despite it being a Dravidian state, Karnataka has become a strong state for the BJP, which now holds 19 seats. The INC has 6 seats, while the Janata Dal (Secular), a member of the Third Front, has three seats. NDA 19 (+1), UPA 6 (-2), 3rd F 3 (+1)
Kerala (20 MPs): The southwestern state of Kerala (and the largest Muslim state, with 24.7%, outside of J&K) is one of the best off states in India, with low poverty, high literacy and HDI. Ironically, the state is traditionally a stronghold of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) for short, which was founded in the ’60’s in a pro-Chinese/Maoist lines as opposed to a more pro-Russian (but also pro-cooperation with the INC) Communist Party of India (CPI). Both parties are quasi-identical nowadays. The Communists were destroyed this year, reduced to four seats, all of which are CPI (M) members. Both the Communist Party of India and the Janata Dal (Secular) lost all their seats. The UPA won 16 seats, of which 13 are for the INC. A Muslim party allied with the UPA has two seats, and an outfit known as KECM (I think it may be a faction of the Christian Kerala Congress) won one. UPA 16 (+15), 3rd F 4 (-12)
Lakshadweep (1 MP): The Lakshadweep Islands off the west coast of India are a Union Territory with one MP. The seat, which was held by the JD(U) in 2004 was won by the INC this year. UPA 1 (+1)
Madhya Pradesh (29 MPs): The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a BJP stronghold. However, the INC made significant inroads in the state, reducing the BJP to 19 seats (25 in 2004). NDA 19 (-6), UPA 10 (+6)
Maharashtra (48 MPs): India’s second most populous state and home to Mumbai, the central Indian state of Maharashtra is a swing state in Indian politics. The UPA has won 25 seats compared to 20 for the NDA. I have calculated that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a anti-Sonia Gandhi INC splinter, has won 6 seats (9 in 2004) and the INC has won 14. Despite the Mumbai bombing, the UPA now controls all Mumbai seats, including one seat gained from Shiv Sena. Within the NDA, the radical Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena has 11 seats (12 in 2004) against 9 for the BJP. There is one Independent and two MPs for other regionalist parties which have names I’ve never seen before. UPA 25 (+3), NDA 20 (-5), Others 3
Manipur (2 MPs): A small state in northeastern India with a sizeable Christian minority, Manipur has two MPs: two INC since 2009. UPA 2 (+2)
Megahalaya (2 MPs): Yet another small state in NE India, Megahalaya has a Christian majority (70%). It has Congress MP and one NCP MP. UPA 2 (+1)
Mizoram (1 MP): See Megahalaya. NE India, Christian. The MP elected in 2004 represented the regionalist Mizo National Front (MNF/NDA). The MNF lost the 2008 state election to the INC in a landslide on the back of a strong anti-incumbency wave. Logically, the INC gained the seat. UPA 1 (+1)
Nagaland (1 MP): See above. NE India, Christian. The current MP represents the regionalist Nagaland People’s Front (NPF/NDA). NDA 1 (nc)
Orissa (21 MPs): Orissa, on the east coast of India, is another state with a strong regionalist party. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), allied to the BJP until this year, joined the Third Front. Thus far (count is not complete), the BJD has 13 seats and the CPI has one seat. In addition, the UPA (aka INC only) has seven seats. The NDA took a thumping and is left with no seats. 3rd F 14 (+6), UPA 7 (+4)
Puducherry (1 MP): The former French territory of Puducherry/Pondichery has one MP, which is now a member of the INC. The Tamil-based Third Front Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) lost the seat. UPA 1 (+1)
Punjab (13 MPs): Punjab state in northeastern India has a Sikh majority. The Sikh Shiromani Akali Dal, a member of the NDA has seen its share of seats halved, from 8 to 4. The BJP holds only one seat, while the INC went from two to seven. UPA 7 (+5), NDA 5 (-5)
Rajasthan (25 MPs): The state of Rajasthan, the largest state in terms of land area (but a lot of desert), is generally a BJP ’safe’ state. In fact, the BJP won 21 seats in 2004, against 4 for the INC. However, the BJP lost the control of the state to the INC in 2008 and logically the INC swept the state this year. UPA 19 (+15), NDA 4 (-16), Others 1 (+1)
Sikkim (1 MP): Sikkim, a tiny state up there in the Himalayas is the least populated state in India. It has one MP, representing the Sikkim Democratic Front. The SDF is omnipotent in Sikkim. Others 1 (nc)
Tamil Nadu (39 MPs): Tamil politics are incomprehensible to the outside world, including me. So I’ll try my best to explain what I do understand. Parties, most of them regional Dravidian parties, don’t really seem to have ideologies, or if they do, it’s very minimal in actual political matters. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK-UPA) has 18 seats now. The INC had 8, and the Dalit-based Viduthalai Siruthaigal.The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK, Third Front), the major component of the Third Front in the state has won 9 seats, while its allies, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK-Third Front), the CPI(M) and CPI each hold one seat each. UPA 27 (+1), 3rd F 12 (-1)
Tripura (2 MPs): Tripura is a small northeastern state in India, with a mostly Bengali (Hindu) population. The CPI(M) holds both seats.3rd F 2 (nc)
Uttar Pradesh (80 MPs): With 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, the state of Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state (190 million people. Would be 5th most populated country in the world if independent!). Dominated in the past by the INC, Janata Dal, and later BJP, it is increasingly dominated by local parties. In 2004, the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is independent of coalitions nationally, won 35 seats. The SP’s support is mostly Muslim (18%) or in the lower castes (Dalits). The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also a lower-caste party led by Mayawati, a dalit herself, but an opportunist more than anything else. The BSP, like so many Indian regional parties, has no ideology except for being Mayawati’s personal machine. The Economist, which understandably has no great love for the BSP or the Indian left (and is certainly biased), says that she is “masquerading as a promoter of dalit rights”. The BSP won only 19 seats in 2004, but the BSP won UP’s first majority government since 1991 in 2007, with Mayawati as Premier. Recently, the BSP has expanded to become a party for all Indian dalits, and this endeavour has been met with some success, based on recent state elections. The BSP, independent in 2004, is now a member of the Third Front and Mayawati is the unofficial leader of the coalition, with some even seeing her as India’s PM. The BSP was excepted to sweep UP this year, but the SP actually resisted spectacularly despite infighting and actually won the most seats in the state! The INC, and to a lesser extent, the BJP, have also performed well in this state where national parties seem to be falling out of vogue. The election was a close finish, however. The SP has 24 seats, the INC has 21, the BSP has 20, and the BJP has 15. 4th F 24 (-11), UPA 21 (+12), 3rd F 20 (+1), NDA 15 (+5)
Uttarakhand (5 MPs): Uttarakhand, a northern state, has 5 MPs. The BJP won three seats here in 2004, but this year, the INC has swept all 5 seats. UPA 5 (+4)
West Bengal (42 MPs): West Bengal in eastern India has been an historical base of Indian communism. The state was a base for Naxalite, Marxist, and trade unionist movements; and has been ruled by the CPIM for three decades. As in Kerala, the Communists have been given the boot. The Left (CPIM and CPI) have lost twenty seats, ending up with only 15 MPs. The INC and its ally All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) have a net gain of 18 for 25 seats. The BJP has picked up one seat. I’m too lazy to break down the seats just yet. UPA 25 (+18, 3rd F 15 (-20), NDA 1 (+1)
In state elections, the INC has won a majority of seats in Andhra Pradesh, the BJD has a majority in Orissa, and the SDF won all 32 seats in Sikkim.
The BJP has conceded victory and the UPA should have no trouble finding a few allies to form government (a majority is 272). If they ally with the Fourt Front, they already have 286. They could also ally with a few parties in the Third Front and even the NDA (except for the BJP and Shiv Sena) to form another majority. In addition, the UPA won’t be annoyed on its left by the Cold War-era Communists and the government’s economic reforms shouldn’t be hindered by the Communists any longer.
Western Australia: Fremantle by-election 2009 and DST Referendum
A fourth referendum on adopting daylight savings time (DST) and a by-election in the state division of Fremantle were held today, May 16 in Western Australia.
Today’s vote was the fourth vote on adopting DST after similar referendums in 1975, 1984 and 1992. In 1992, the proposal failed, with 53% voting against the adoption of DST. As the results stand now, the referendum has failed once again, with 55.49% against and 44.51% in favour. As in 1992, the West Australian outback voted overwhelmingly against, with the NO vote reaching 84% in the Agricultural electoral region and 67% in the Mining and Pastoral region. Unlike in 1992, however, Perth narrowly rejected the proposal, with 50.3% against (53% voted in favour in 1992).
Roughly 70% has been counted, but the YES count has remained relatively steady for quite some time, and it is extremely unlikely that there will be a massive YES push in the final votes.
The defeat of DST is probably the final nail in the coffin for DST.
The division of Fremantle, located south of Perth and centred around the important harbour city of Fremantle held a by-election today following the resignation of its sitting Labor MP, Jim McGinty, who was Attorney General until 2008, when Labor lost government to the Liberals and Nationals. In the 2008 election, McGinty defeated the Liberal candidate 62-38 on the two-candidate preferred count, although on first preferences, McGinty was ahead of the Liberal candidate 39-30, with the Greenies performing very well (27.6%).
Historically, Fremantle has been a solidy Labor seat, the ALP having held it since 1924. The electorate was once a very important (although it remains important even today) industrial harbour, and was at the centre of many labour disputes. Hurt by corruption, local divisions, and an evolving socio-economic situtation, Labor’s first preference vote total plumetted to 43% from its usual 60% range in the 1989 election and the ALP has never again broken 50% on the first count.
The governing Liberals did not stand a candidate in this by-election, although Carmelo Zagami ran as a Liberal Independent. The main constestors were Peter Tagliaferri for Labour and Adele Carles, the Greenie who narrowly missed winning in 2008.
Adele Carles (Green) 44.3% (+16.7%)
Peter Tagliaferri (ALP) 38.6% (-0.1%)
Carmelo Zagami (IndLib) 5.3% (Liberal vote was 30.2% in 2008)
Nik Varga (Ind) 3.4%
Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance) 2.3%
Steve Boni (Ind) 1.7%
Andriette du Plessis (Family First) 0.9% (-0.8%)
Jan Ter Horst (Ind) 0.8%
Rosemary Ann Lorrimar (Ind) 0.8%
Rob Toten (LaRouchite) 0.3%
After distribution of preferences (called 2PP in Australia, or Two-Party Preferred). Zagami, Ter Horst, and Wainwright directed preferences to the Greenie, and the other candidates directed preferences to the ALP candidate and Mayor of Fremantle Peter Tagliaferri.
Adele Carles (Green) 54%
Peter Tagliaferri (ALP) 46%
It is amazing how awful Zagami polled. It seems as if most Liberals followed his instructions to preference Carles, but a whole lot did so by giving her first preferences and not second preferences. This, compounded with historical Green strength in Fremantle gave the Greenies over 40% of the primary votes, a historical feat in Australia. This election is also a historic defeat for the ALP in Fremantle, after years of gradual decline.