Monthly Archives: September 2009
The big news in the electoral world is Germany’s major federal election held yesterday, for the German lower house, the Bundestag. As reported yesterday, the CDU-CSU and its liberal ally, the FDP, won a surprise majority coalition government last night, contrary to what latest polling trends and observers had been predicting. German social democracy and the SPD had its worst night, since, well, the 1933 or 1932 election. However, the night was mostly a good night for Germany’s three smaller parties, right and left. The FDP, Greens and Left Party all won their best results in their history last night. The combined CDU and SPD also polled barely 56-57%, their lowest point. Without further talk, results:
CDU 27.3% (-0.5%) winning 194 seats (+14)
SPD 23.0% (-11.2%) winning 146 seats (-76)
FDP 14.6% (+4.8%) winning 93 seats (+32)
The Left 11.9% (+3.2%) winning 76 seats (+22)
Greens 10.7% (+2.6%) winning 68 seats (+17)
CSU 6.5% (-0.9%) winning 45 seats (-1)
Pirate 2.0% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
NPD 1.5% (-0.1%) winning 0 seats (nc)
CDU-CSU (Union) 33.8% (-1.4%) winning 239 seats (+13)
The CDU-FDP (black-yellow) coalition has 332 seats, which is a comfortable overall majority of 20 in the Bundestag. Due to overhang mandates, of which there were quite many, the legislature has 8 more members, meaning that it now holds 622 members.
Angela Merkel will remain Chancellor, but this time with the FDP as coalition partners, leading to a more consensual approach to governing (since the CDU and FDP are better coalition partners than, say, CDU and SPD). Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the FDP, will likely become Foreign Minister and the government’s second-man (like the SPD front-runner, Steinmeier was). Due to their gains and the CDU’s weak showing, they can press the CDU for a number of important spots: Economy, Finances or Justice are thrown out there. The SPD will be able to re-build while in opposition, unless they sink into inner-party squabbles or if they adopt a line which can’t win back SPD voters which voted Left or Green this election. If they do rebuild, as I expected them to, they can expect some gains in the 2013 federal election. But it’s way too far out to predict 2013!
In the constituency vote, the CDU won 173 seats, 67 more than in 2005; while the SPD lost 81 and now holds only 64. The CSU won 45, while the Left Party broke through much more than expected in direct seats, winning 16 seats, which is up from only 3 in 2005. The Greens held their sole direct seat in downtown Berlin. The SPD holds on only in its northern Hessian and southern Lower Saxonian strongholds, as well as the very left-wing Ruhr region, its solid support in Bremen and the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony, as well as isolated industrial or urban centres. The SPD narrowly lost its sole Bavarian constituency, Munich North to the CSU. In addition, by the loss of its three seats in Saxony, the CDU now holds all seats in that state. What is also noteworthy this election is the ever increasing amount of direct MPs elected with less than 40% of the vote, even in the West (in the East it was more common before, due to the Left and so forth). And the ever declining number of direct seats giving the winner over 50% of the vote: 95 in 2005 (56 CDU-CSU, 39 SPD) and only 31 this time (29 CDU-CSU, 2 SPD). In addition, 12 direct MPs (by my count) won over 60% of the vote, now it’s down to only 2 (one CSU and one CDU).
Let’s have a look at the results by party. The maps below are maps of the second-vote (list vote) results. Errors are possible.
The CDU (CSU in Bavaria, yeah) didn’t have a swell night last night either. Despite the media’s fixation on Merkel’s great victory, her party fell to its worst result since 1949 and it only did better in the seat count due to its owning of the SPD in the direct seats. However, they didn’t do as bad as their coalition partner, the SPD. The CDU’s map has some correlation with Catholicism, its best areas usually tend to be very Catholic. It tend to does well in rural areas, obviously, but also decently well in more well-off urban areas, though that is downplayed on these maps due to the FDP polling very well in those areas too. Its worst areas remain East Berlin, most of the industrial Ruhr Valley, northern Hesse and so forth, and most of East Germany except Saxony (where there’s a CDU tradition since 1990) and Merkel’s home state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Last night was a real nightmare for German social democracy and the SPD. The party lost over 10% of the vote, and its voters clearly punished it for its junior status in a overall right-leaning government. While still higher that its results in the past two Euro elections, the SPD’s level last night was only lower just prior to the Third Reich. The SPD polled best in northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, a largely low-income and rural Protestant area which has been one of the SPD’s strongest areas since 1949 (though the FDP did very well in northern Hesse circa 1949 or so). It also did well in, obviously, the industrial and mining Ruhr Valley and also in Aurich-Emden constituency in Frisia, an isolated area with little industry (though the SPD does well in Wilhelmshaven, an industrial suburb of Bremen). Its other areas of relative success include Bremen, a stronghold of the SPD, the working-class areas of Hamburg, the industrial (or not) cities of Kiel, Lubeck, Karlsruhe, Worms, so on and so forth. It also performs better in Brandenburg than in any other East German state, probably due to a better implanted SPD. The party did very poorly in Berlin, a city where it usually polls very well and is one of the only parties with east-west support in the polarized city.
The FDP’s map is quite boring. It’s a map, overall, of where the wealthy people live in Germany. It’s exceptionally strong in suburbia, the wealthy suburbia of Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg. About the only non-wealth related pattern are the wine-growing regions of the Rhineland-Palatinate where there seems to subsist a winemaker-for-FDP tradition. It did predictably poorly in most of East Germany save for the few wealthy areas, mostly in Saxony. There is little Protestant FDP tradition left in areas like northern Hesse or Upper Franconia.
Spot the GDR! While the Left’s nets gains were probably strongest in the West (I don’t know for sure, but they probably even had some net losses in some places), it’s proven fact that their base is still the East, and East Berlin in particular. Removing the old GDR, the only darker area is the Saarland, where the Left’s vote is based on Oskar Lafontaine. They broke 10.5% in a few left-wing, mostly old industrial, constituencies in the West.
The Greenies remain a predominantly urban party, as it is in about every other European country. Their best showings came in Berlin-Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg-Prenzlauer Berg Ost, which is predominantly hippie/alternative land and also the CDU and FDP’s worst constituency in all of Germany, and also in Freiburg – a younger university town which is also a big ‘eco-city’. Almost all of their strong showings came in these type of cities. And they’re very weak in rural areas.
Yeah, there were also state elections in Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg, but I’ve got a lot of backlog work to do on here, so they’ll wait for some time! Apologies for the delay in getting all the posts up there.
Germany 2009: Exit Polls
The CDU-CSU/FDP has, surprisingly, won a majority government tonight according to the ARD exit poll at 18:42 local time.
ARD (Infratest-Dimap) Exit Poll
CDU/CSU 33.4% (-1.8%) winning 212 or 228 seats
SPD 23.0% (-11.2%) winning 146 seats
FDP 14.7% (+4.9%) winning 94 seats
Left 12.6% (+3.9%) winning 80 seats
Greens 10.4% (+2.3%) winning 66 seats
Pirates 2.0% (+2.0%)
Others 3.9% (nc)
CDU-FDP 48.1% (+3.1%) winning 306 or 322 seats (MAJORITY)
Turnout 72% (-6%)
You can follow results on the official site in English here or on the ARD’s website. Nothing official is in yet, of course.
Election Preview: Portugal 2009
Aside from the German election, today’s other big election is the Portuguese general election. Portugal’s 230 seat unicameral Assembly is up for election today, a bit more than four years after the 2005 snap election. This is Portugal’s 13th election since the Carnation Revolution of 1975 which overthrow the dictatorship inherited from Salazar.
Portugal’s political parties can cause confusion to outside observers, not only because they use similar colours but also because they’re misnamed.
The Socialist Party (PS) won the 2005 election in a landslide under the leader of José Sócrates. The PS was founded in exile in Germany during the Estado Novo and ruled Portugal, with Mário Soares as Prime Minister, for a short period of left-wing activity after the adoption of the new Constitution following the Carnation Revolution. Under Mário Soares, Portugal entered the European Community and under António Guterres, Portugal’s economy grew relatively well and the government increased spending on social services. José Sócrates is a member of the right-wing of the PS, and he has led a centrist (his left-wing detractors will say neoliberal) economic policy, cutting in bureaucracy and public spending. Under his tenure, Portugal also legalized abortion after a referendum in 2007 gave a large majority to the pro-choice movement (despite low turnout).
The main centre-right opposition is the Social Democratic Party (PSD), whose ironic name comes from the party’s founder and the Saint for Portuguese rightists, Francisco de Sá Carneiro. Francisco de Sá Carneiro was a populist, who increased social spending and led rather centre-left policies during his short tenure, but the PSD later drifted to the right as evidenced by the tenure of José Manuel Barroso as Prime Minister. Following his departure to assume the Presidency of the European Commission, Pedro Santana Lopes, a gaffe-machine and poor politician became Prime Minister until losing the 2005 election in a landslide. The PS and PSD are known as the centrao parties, rather centrist parties with little important policy differences.
Portugal has had a strong Communist Party, and the Communist Party gained significant political power shortly after the Carnation Revolution, notably influencing an agrarian reform in the south. Today’s Communist Party (PCP) is grouped with a small irrelevant Green Party (PEV) in the Unitarian Democratic Coalition (CDU). Unlike most European communist parties, the PCP has not adopted a more moderate course (eurocommunism) and has remained a unreformed old-style communist party. For example, it still uses the old communist rhetoric denouncing imperialists, bourgeois and exploiters of the proletariat. The PEV is a joke party and it’s eternal coalition with the PCP doesn’t help the party much in the eyes of voters.
The Left Bloc (BE) is Portugal’s other far-left party, though the BE is more Trotskyst, New Left and anticapitalist. While the PCP is the authoritarian far-left, the BE is the more libertarian far-left. In addition to its anticapitalism, it is strongly socially liberal, feminist and ecologist. It is popular mostly with students and the BE has been the main benefactor of left-wing discontent with the centrist policies of the Socialist government.
The Democratic and Social Centre-People’s Party (CDS/PP) runs to the right of the PSD, and is considered a right-wing christian democratic party. It is strongly socially conservative, campaigning against abortion in the 2007 referendum for example, but also very right-wing on economic matters. Those who aren’t fond of the party will call it anywhere from Christian right, extreme neoliberal, or even far-right. They’re usually the PSD’s coalition partner, and they were so during Barroso’s term in office.
The 2005 election was a snap election after Barroso’s successor, the gaffe-prone Pedro Santana Lopes was unable to hold his coalition government together. In addition to his being unpopular as a person, the government was also hurt by a poor economic outlook. The PS swept into office and won a majority on its own historic feat.
PS 45.0% (+7.2%) winning 121 seats (+25)
PSD 28.8% (-11.4%) winning 75 seats (-30)
PCP-PEV 7.6% (+0.6%) winning 14 seats (+2)
CDS/PP 7.3% (-1.5%) winning 12 seats (-2)
BE 6.4% (+3.7%) winning 8 seats (+5)
Portugal is divided into twenty-two PR constituencies for legislative elections, 18 in mainland Portugal (these constituencies are also administrative districts), one each for the Azores and Madeira, one for Portuguese in Europe and one for Portuguese around the world. The number of seats per constituency, save for the two diaspora ones which are fixed at 2 seats each, changes every election. It ranges from 47 in Lisbon to just two in Portalegre. The seats are allocated by district using d’Hondt. The electoral system tends to favour larger parties over smaller parties. The majority ‘threshold’ is around 44%.
The PS defeated the PSD by a five-point margin in the June European elections, winning 32% against 27% for the PS. The BE and PCP won 11% each, and the CDS/PP won 8%. However, current polls show that the PS’ lead over the PSD is increasing, though the PS will obviously not retain its absolute majority it won in the 2005 landslide. The main benefactors, as mentioned above, of the PS’ relatively unpopularity is the BE, which could very well poll double-digits this election. The PSD has had trouble capitalizing on the little love for Sócrates, mainly because the PSD’s leader, Manuela Ferreira Leite, is as charismatic as a wet pizza. Sócrates can thank the PSD’s poor leadership for his continued first place in polls. In the last days, the PS’ numbers have improved because the Socialists have called on voters to vote ‘usefully’ for them, instead of, say, the BE or PCP. The PS is now ranging between 38% and 40%, the PSD between 29% and 32%, the BE between 9 and 11%, the PCP and CDS between 7 and 8.5% each. The main coalition option the table is a Socialist minority government, or a more unlikely PS-BE coalition. The PSD-CDS is very unlikely to get a majority (44% of the vote), and their leaders now hate each other. A Grand Coalition is acceptable only without Sócrates.
Election Preview: Germany 2009
Germany goes to the polls to elect its Federal Diet, the Bundestag, today in the big finale to a mad electoral year in Germany. The Bundestag has atleast 598 seats, though it currently has 611 members and had 614 following the 2005 election. Exactly half of its members, 299 of them, are elected in single-member constituencies (or direct seats) by FPTP. The remaining seats, atleast 299 each election, often more, are allocated to the parties that have received over 5% of the vote nationally or atleast 3 direct seats via the Sainte-Laguë method of proportional representation. These seats are allocated the following way: if a party wins 10% of the vote in a 100-seat legislature, it is entitled to, say, 10 seats. The party wins 7 direct seats, then it gets 3 list seats to ‘proportionalize’ the result. For this reason, German voters will have two votes tomorrow: one vote for their local, or direct, representative in Berlin; and the other for a party-list. Oftentimes there ends up being more than 598 members – there were 614 members elected in 2005. That is because of overhang seats, which are ‘extra’ seats a party has since it has elected more direct members than it is proportionally entitled to. For example, in my previously used example, imagine the party was entitled to 10 seats but won 13 direct seats, then it would receive 13 seats since all directly elected members must sit- though ‘overhang members’ are not replaced if they resign.
For a brief overview of parties contesting, the major players are the conservative [historically Catholic christian-democratic] Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and it’s Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU); the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), one of Germany’s oldest party; the market liberal (neoliberal) Free Democratic Party (FDP); the centre-left Greens, one of Europe’s strongest green parties; and the Left, a new party formed by the West German WASG (left-wing dissidents of the SPD) and the East German post-communist PDS. Other parties which don’t currently hold seats include the Nazis (NPD), the far-right DVU and Republicans, and a bunch of minor joke parties. The Pirate Party has one member in the Bundestag, elected for the SPD in the last election.
The last election was held in 2005 and finally resulted in the formation of a so-called left-right Grand Coalition between the CDU-CSU and the SPD. Angela Merkel of the CDU became Chancellor, replacing Gerhard Schröder (SPD), who had been Chancellor since 1998 at the head of a SPD-Green coalition. The 2005 election result proved a disappointment for the CDU, who was widely expected to win a landslide victory and have the opportunity to form a coalition with its preferred coalition ally, the FDP. In the end, the election was one the closest elections in German history (the percentages are the results of the list vote):
SPD 34.2% (-4.3%) winning 222 seats (-29)
CDU 27.8% (-1.7%) winning 180 seats (-10)
FDP 9.8% (+2.5%) winning 61 seats (+14)
The Left.PDS 8.7% (+4.7%) winning 54 seats (+52)
Greens 8.1% (-0.5%) winning 51 seats (-2)
CSU 7.4% (-1.6%) winning 46 seats (-12)
NPD 1.6% (+1.2%) winning 0 seats (nc)
CDU-CSU Union 35.2% (-3.3%) winning 226 seats (-22)
I presented what I believe are the ‘notional’ district seat results in map format (there seems to have been some changes in borders in some states since 2005).
Some little notes on the basic electoral geography of Germany in the present day. In the East, voting patterns are based less on sociological factors and more on personality factors (which explains the CDU’s above-average performances in Saxony). However, the West can be explained by more traditional sociological patterns: the survival of some Protestant vs. Catholic divide (once the main political divide) – which explains the strongly SPD areas in northern Hesse and much of eastern Lower Saxony – though these areas are also low-income and eastern Lower Saxony is also a bit industrial. Other SPD areas are located in the old coal-mining state of Saar, in the industrial-mining Ruhr basin, and in some urban (usually either less affluent or more trendy-lefty) areas. Bavaria, very clerical Catholic and conservative is the stronghold of the right and the CSU, the CDU’s sister-party. Even the Protestant Franconian areas are now CSU-dominated, and the remnants of a Protestant rural vote for the FDP (which is historically Protestant, though its modern patterns reflect almost quasi-exclusively affluence) are eliminated. However, the SPD won a few direct seats in Upper Franconia in 1998, and if they ever do win seats outside of Munich in Bavaria, it will be here. Schleswig-Holstein, a Protestant state, is normally more left-leaning with SPD support in rural Protestant areas, but the CDU broke through quite well in 2005 here. Needless to say, the CDU, albeit historically Catholic and even though the CDU’s best areas are usually strongly Catholic, the CDU has a much larger electoral base than the Centre Party of the Wilhelmine and Weimar eras – which was exclusively Catholic. It is now a cross-religious conservative party.
As mentioned above, the FDP’s patterns now quasi-exclusively reflect affluence except some parts in, I think, the Rhineland-Palatinate. Although they were originally a Protestant party – it won direct seats in the 1950s in northern Hesse and Upper Franconia (the Protestant area of devoutly Catholic Bavaria), it now polls relatively poorly in those areas, especially compared to the very affluent suburbs of Frankfurt, Munich or Stuttgart. As much as the FDP is a predominantly suburban party, since that’s where the cash is, the Greenies are a urban party. They poll double-digits, sometimes up in the 20% range, in Germany’s largest urban centres: Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart. Within those cities, the Greenies’ best areas aren’t really poorer industrial areas but rather middle-class areas which tend to be more ‘bohemian’ or the centre of New Left type voters. The Green’s only direct seat is Berlin-Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg-Prenzlauer Berg Ost, which has a large Turkish population (Turkish immigrants vote either Green or SPD, probably more Green this year since the Green co-chairman, Cem Özdemir, is a Turk) and is also a New Left/hippie area. The Greenies other top area is the ecologist town of Freiburg on the Rhine.
A Java map of the list vote results from 2005 is available here. Ditto for the direct vote.
This election was also supposed to be slam dunk for the CDU-CSU/FDP coalition which everybody knew was the CDU’s preferred outcome. Merkel’s CDU has been the main benefactor of the government’s relative popularity, while the SPD’s participation has benefited the Left and the Greens. In addition, some economically right-wing CDU voters have switched to the FDP, which has resulted in a string of impressive electoral showings for the FDP in 2009 and the federal election might just be the FDP’s highest point since 1949! However, the decline of voting intentions for the CDU seems inevitable in Germany, and, as in 2005, the trend has continued. The CDU has slid back approximately to levels equal or below its 2005 level, while the SPD has come back from polling 20% (a real low point for them) as in the June Euros, and back to slightly better 25-26% levels. Only the Left, FDP and Greens can be certain of polling better than in 2005. It’s very likely all three will poll over 10%. To make matters worse for the CDU, the party usually overpolls by 2-4%: in the 2009 Hessian state elections it polled 37% while polls gave it 41%.
Forsa, which has a CDU bias in its polling, predicts the following… CDU supporters must not be very happy about their prospects. For fun, I ran the numbers through a seat calculator.
CDU-CSU 33% winning 210 seats (-16)
SPD 25% winning 159 seats (-63)
FDP 14% winning 89 seats (+28)
Left 12% winning 76 seats (+22)
Greens 10% winning 64 seats (+13)
Others (Pirates, Nazis) 6%
Election.de predicts the CDU-CSU will win 195 direct seats, the SPD 99, the Left 4 and the Greens 1. In addition, an interesting factor in this election might be the Pirate Party, which seems to have a promising future in Germany. The party could gain votes from Greens who are unhappy about the party’s recent shenanigans over state coalitions in Saar and Thuringia. While I don’t see them breaking 5%, they could steal some votes from the Greenies and reduce the number of Green seats. The Pirate Party has also had a major membership boost since the European elections.
CDU-CSU 31% winning 197 seats (-29)
SPD 26% winning 166 seats (-56)
FDP 15% winning 95 seats (+34)
Left 12% winning 76 seats (+22)
Greens 10% winning 64 seats (+13)
My numbers give the CDU-FDP 46% against 48% for SPD-Left-Greens. While the SPD’s candidate for Chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has excluded a coalition with the Left, many see that he could renege on his commitment if the prospect of government looms. On my numbers, coalitions with a majority include: CDU-CSU-SPD (363), Jamaica [CDU-FDP-Greens] (356), Traffic Light [SPD-Greens-FDP] (325), and of course SPD-Left-Greens (306). CDU-FDP would lack a majority (292). I see a Grand Coalition as most likely, followed by SPD-Left-Greens. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a Traffic Light involving the FDP, especially under its current right-wing leader, Guido Westerwelle, and the FDP ruled that out in 2005. A Jamaica is unlikely, given the relationship between the FDP and Green parties and also considering the electoral effect on the Greens of the CDU-Green coalition in Hamburg.
Of course, there is the chance that the CDU could do better than predicted thanks to overhang seats, which are hard to predict, but there is little talk of a massive CDU overhang advantage like there was during the summer.
Also being held tomorrow are two state elections: one in Brandenburg (the vast state all around Berlin, including Potsdam and Frankfurt-on-the-Oder) and Schleswig-Holstein (Germany’s northernmost state, including Kiel and its canal).
SPD 31.9% (-7.4%) winning 33 seats (-4)
Left 28% (+4.7%) winning 29 seats (+7)
CDU 19.4% (-7.1%) winning 20 seats (-5)
DVU 6.1% (+0.8%) winning 6 seats (+1)
Greens 3.6% (+1.7%)
FDP 3.3% (+1.4%)
The SPD has been dominant since reunification in the poor state of Brandenburg, and even won an absolute majority alone in 1994. The Left’s gains have hurt the party, though the CDU remains very weak in the state. The government is formed by the SPD and CDU.
The latest poll gives the SPD 32%, the Left 27%, the CDU 22%, the FDP 7% and the Greens 5%. The DVU is polling crap and should lose all its seats. The SPD-CDU government would keep its majority, but a SPD-Left government would also have a majority.
CDU 40.2% (+5.0%) winning 30 seats (-3)
SPD 38.7% (-4.4%) winning 29 seats (-12)
FDP 6.6% (-1.0%) winning 4 seats (-3)
Greens 6.2% (nc) winning 4 seats (-1)
SSW 3.6% (-0.5%) winning 2 seats (-1)
The SSW represents the Danish and Frisian minorities in South Schleswig and is therefore excluded from the 5% threshold requirement. The CDU won back control of Schleswig-Holstein, a left-leaning ‘swing state’ from the SPD-Greens in 2005 after losing it in 1988. This election is a snap election after the CDU-SPD government broke down. In recent days, the CDU’s numbers descended rapidly and a SPD-Green-Left-SSW government looked possible until the SSW, which will likely win 2 or 3 seats, ruled out a coalition with the Left.
The current poll numbers give the CDU 31%, the SPD 28%, the FDP 14%, the Greens 13%, the Left 6% and the SSW 4%. Coalition options include CDU-SPD (again?) or CDU-FDP-Green.
Breaking: Early information reports low turnout, lower than in 2005, something which benefits the CDU… Maybe CDU-FDP isn’t only a wet dream now for rightists… There are also rumours of a late SPD-to-Left swing, but election day rumours are fail. Exit polls will be released at noon EST.
Canadian provincial by-elections September 21, 2009
A by-election was held in the Quebecois provincial constituency of Rousseau, located on the North Shore of Montreal, split between the regions of the Laurentides and Lanaudière. The by-election, on which I gave more details in an introductory post a week or so ago. To re-state the main point of my small schpeel, the by-election is held to replace PQ MNA François Legault, who recently resigned. The seat is a staunchly sovereigntist albeit quite conservative (it’s a rural area after all) seat, and thus a PQ stronghold despite a small scare in 2007 by the right-wing ADQ. Legault won 56.8% in his most recent election, 2008.
Nicolas Marceau (PQ) 56.92% (+0.15%)
Michel Fafard (Liberal) 30.94% (+8.61%)
Jean-Pierre Parrot (ADQ) 4.67% (-11.74%)
François Lépine (QS) 4.39% (+1.44%)
Guy Rainville (Green) 3.08% (+1.03%)
PQ hold (Swing: 4.38% from PQ to Liberal)
As expected, a comfortable victory for Nicolas Marceau and the PQ. However, the Liberals seem to have benefited the most from the collapse of the ADQ, which polled shit in a riding that’s generally above-average for them. Indeed, the ADQ is probably on life support right now and it’s dirty leadership contest between Eric Caire and Gilles Taillon isn’t helping the party’s fortunes much. Without Mario Dumont, the party, which was Super Mario’s personal machine in practice, is worthless. Its remaining MNAs ought to be considering joining the Liberals (or PQ) now to save their seats. It is almost a quasi-certainty that for the next few years, politics in the province will return to a traditional PQ vs. Liberal show-down.
Two by-elections were also held last night in Saskatchewan, both in safe NDP urban seats: Regina Douglas Park, an artsy area; and Saskatoon Riversdale, a low-income inner city area. The NDP predictably held both seats, but the conservative Saskatchewan Party, which currently forms the popular government in the province, did quite well. Here are the results:
Dwain Lingenfelter (NDP) 50.24% (-1.78%)
Kathleen Peterson (SaskP) 42.12% (+11.55%)
Victor Lau (Green) 7.64% (+3.8%)
NDP hold (Swing: 6.67% from NDP to SaskP)
Danielle Chartier (NDP) 53.04% (-3.07%)
Corey O’Soup (SaskP) 42.24% (+9.76%)
Eileen Gelowitz (Liberal) 2.66% (-5.4%)
Tobi-Dawne Smith (Green) 2.06% (+0.13%)
NDP hold (Swing: 6.42% from NDP to SaskP)
Yvelines’ 10th constituency (France) by-election
The first round of a legislative by-election in the Yvelines’ 10th constituency in France was held yesterday, September 20. The by-election was held after the original deputy for the constituency, Christine Boutin, who had resigned her seat in June 2007 to her suppléant (a supply, who replaces the deputy if he or she dies, resigns to join cabinet or is appointed to a government job) since French cabinet ministers can’t hold a seat in the legislature. Until the constitutional revision in 2008, Boutin could not have automatically re-gained the seat after leaving the cabinet in June 2009, but the new law removes the necessity for a by-election in such cases. However, Boutin chose not to take back her old seat, so her suppléant, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, will need to run for a term in his own right. It’s confusing, but it is French politics after all.
The constituency is a very affluent exurban constituency of Paris, taking up a vast area of the southwest of the department, including the affluent city of Rambouillet and it’s well-known forest, as well as Montfort-l’Amaury and the more middle-income (and more left-wing) city of Maurepas. Predictably, the constituency is a right-wing stronghold, holding the current constituency since 1988, though the constituency elected a Radical, Jacqueline Thome-Patenôtre for twenty years between 1958 and 1978. The seat was notably held by Christine Boutin, a staunch social conservative who was a member of the centre-right UDF before she was excluded for running in the 2002 presidential election (1.19%) independently of Bayrou, the candidate of the UDF. Her personal outfit, the Forum of Social Republicans (FRS) – now known as the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) is a affiliate member of the governing centre-right UMP. In 2007, she was elected with a bit more than 58% in the runoff, after narrowly failing to win by the first round.
In the European elections, the UMP and Greens both performed above their national average, with the UMP breaking 30% (32.66%) and the Greens breaking 20% (21.14%). The PS won barely 11.8%, concentrated mostly in the more working-class areas of the constituency, even though they were crushed there too by the Greens. The Greens are helped by the large number of professionals, but also the constituency’s growth from young people moving to exurbia to escape the high cost of living in Paris proper and its immediate suburbia. It remains, however, a right-wing area.
Last night’s results were as follows. Abstention was 77.24%.
Jean-Frédéric Poisson (UMP-PDC) 43.94% (-5.29%)
Anny Poursinoff (Green) 20.15% (+16.36%)
Françoise Pelissolo (PS) 12.44% (-9.02%)
Georges Mougeot (DVG-MoDem) 9.58% (+9.58%)
Vincent Liechti (PCF) 4.72% (+2.78%)
Philippe Chevrier (FN) 4.03% (+0.47%)
Myriam Baeckeroot (Parti de la France) 3.08% (+3.08%)
Maxime Rouquet (Pirate Party) 2.06% (+2.06%)
Right and Far-Right 51.05% vs. Left and Pirates 48.95%
A very poor result for both the UMP and PS. The UMP is left sidelined, with its only ‘likely’ reserves lying on the far-right, which are unreliable and could very well split for the left in a runoff, although it’s unlikely. The PS was definitely hurt by the candidacy of Georges Mougeot, the Mayor of Maurepas, and they were trounced into a very poor third place, behind the Greens, who had a well-known local candidate. The Greens also stand an outside chance of winning, if the left maximizes its vote in addition to extra turnout or unlikely far-right voters. Such a victory would also be the first Green victory in legislative election won with opposition from an official Socialist candidate – all current Green deputies were elected with no Socialist opposition, as were all Greens elected in 1997 and 2002.
Vorarlberg (Austria) 2009
Austria’s smallest and westernmost state, on the border with Switzerland and tiny Liechtenstein, high in the Alps, held an election to its 36-seat Landtag. The small state is a stronghold of the centre-right ÖVP, which has an absolute majority of seats in the legislature (and has dropped below 50% once, in 1999, since 1945) though it governs in coalition with the far-right FPÖ. The densely populated state is very wealthy, with a flourishing economy (even the manufacturing industry is right-wing, due to a right-wing unionization tradition) and a high standard of living. It is also famous for its numerous ski resorts in the Alps, some of which are very affluent.
ÖVP 50.82% (-4.1%) winning 20 seats (-1)
FPÖ 25.25% (+12.31%) winning 9 seats (+4)
Greens 10.37% (+0.2%) winning 4 seats (±0)
SPÖ 10.06% (-6.81%) winning 3 seats (-3)
Gsiberger 1.74% (+1.74%) winning 0 seats (±0)
BZÖ 1.21% (+1.21%) winning 0 seats (±0)
Others 0.56% (+0.56%) winning 0 seats (±0)
The SPÖ has won its worst result ever, and came in a pitiful fourth behind the FPÖ (which still performed poorly vis-a-vis it’s result in 1999 and the last federal election) and also the Greenies, who are strong in this mountain valley state with a surprising high number of foreigners.
A map would be rather boring since the ÖVP won every city, polling over 50% in most of the mountainous eastern areas, but polling below 50% in the west of the state, which includes the state capital of Bregenz, also the left’s best city. The west also includes a very densely populated coastal plain, the Rhine Valley, were a vast majority of the state lives.
St. Paul’s (Ontario) by-election 2009
St. Paul’s, a provincial (and federal, by this concerns the provincial) constituency in northern downtown Toronto (Ontario) held a by-election yesterday to replace Michael Bryant, the incumbent Liberal MPP who got into hot water in the last days or weeks after killing a cyclist (the incident was not the cause of his resignation, he resigned in June). The constituency, a rather affluent one with a strong Italian community and a large young professional population is considered a Liberal stronghold since around 1999, when Bryant won the constituency from the Progressive Conservatives. However, there was a lot of talk in recent days that the PC might give the Liberal candidate, Eric Hoskins, a sweat or even win it themselves due to a tough summer for the Ontario Liberal government and controversy over the HST, Harmonized Sales Tax (merging the federal 5% Goods and Services Tax with the 8% Retails Sales Tax). Those who predicted a PC win in this urban Toronto riding have quite an epic fail on their hands.
Eric Hoskins (Liberal) 47.60% (+0.17%)
Sue-Ann Levy (PC) 28.33% (+1.79%)
Julian Heller (NDP) 16.88% (+1.14%)
Chris Chopik (Green) 5.47% (-2.87%)
John Kittredge (Libertarian) 0.58% (+0.05%)
Danish Ahmed (Special Needs) 0.34%
Marius Frederick (Independent) 0.30%
Paul McKeever (Freedom) 0.22% (-0.04%)
John C. Turmel (Independent) 0.19%
Raj Rama (Independent) 0.09%
Liberal hold (Swing: 0.98% from Liberal to PC)
A poor showing for the PC, which seems to have hoped that there would be a large vote against the Liberal government and the HST, which they and the NDP oppose. Either these voters, assuming they exist in important numbers, didn’t turn out, which would be surprising since these kinds of anti-government voters are more likely to turn out than pro-government voters are; or or there is simply little to no negative reaction to the HST or the various scandalish issues which dampened the Liberal mood over the last days of summer. In addition, another instance of a major flop for a so-called star candidate, Sue-Ann Levy, a Jewish lesbian journalist (for the Toronto Sun) but also an ultra-conservative (which isn’t popular in Toronto). And a poor start, possibly, for the new PC leader, the conservative Tim Hudak, who’s been called by detractors the second coming of Mike Harris. Does this mean that the PC’s shift to the right hasn’t received popular approval? Possibly, but one Liberal stronghold in Toronto is not a good sample, and also, it’s a by-election (you know what that means).
Norway 2009: Analysis
Since it’s a country with which I’m fairly well versed politically, I’ve decided to do a little sociological, geographic and run-of-the-mill pundit analysis of the Norwegian election. Results and the like are posted here.
The results were quite predictable, though the Red-Green narrow majority was a bit of a surprise – though when analyzing further, they can thank the Liberals for their majority. Labour’s vote increase is a reflection of the personal popularity of Jens Stoltenberg, who seems to be more popular than his coalition government. Progress was likely hurt a bit by the resurgent Conservatives, who slowly increased their ratings in polls over the last days of the campaign. It seems as if the Conservatives also took some votes from smaller centrist parties, notably the Liberals who fell short of the 4% threshold for the additional seats. If the Liberals had broken 4%, which they almost did btw, they would have won 8 seats and Red-Green wouldn’t have had its majority mandate.
The result is certainly quite deceiving for Siv Jensen and Progress, who undoubtedly wanted to have a bit more seats than this after the good ratings the polls gave the party for most of its campaign. Still, it’s the party’s best election result to date, but such a result shocks much less today given it was quite inevitable that 2009 would be a good year. SV’s result is quite a disaster from the party, continuously falling since the party’s excellent result in 2001. Most voters probably shifted back to Labour, like a lot had done in 2005 since 2001 was also Labour’s nadir. However, SV has been able to recover from such nadirs, most notably after the party polled absolute crap in 1997 came 2001.
The Centre’s vote has proven remarkably stable since 1997, and, if one excludes the huge glitch in 1993 (Centre did well because it was the large anti-EU party), since 1977. I would guess that the Centre’s rural bloc has had little reason to move since then.
In terms of small parties, always fun to observe, the Coastal Party (which held a seat until 2005) did awfully this election, due to internal rivalries and its top figure leaving the party. It was reduced to crumbs even in the party’s top two municipalities in Trømso County. The party placed fourth of the extra-parliamentary parties, behind Red (of course) but also the Pensioners and Norway’s small Green Party. The old Communist Party (NKP) won 697 votes in all. In terms of extremists, the moralfag Abortion Opponent’s List (which hates abortions, evolution, feminism, homosexuals, non-Christians, everything damn it) won 177 votes, ahead of the Nazi-Norse mythologic Vigrid (174 votes) but behind the racist Patriots (184 votes). A party wishing to abolish Nynorsk as a written language got 107 votes running only in Akershus County.
Below is a map of the results of the various relevant parties (all parties winning seats and Rødt) in each of Norway’s 19 counties.
Labour’s vote has seen little switches since the 1950s (I have a few old maps of Norwegian elections from those days). It is clear that the Labour Party itself is strong in the bokmål-speaking areas of Norway, which is pretty much everywhere except the south-western coast of the country. Its best results come from inland areas and also Nør-Trøndelag – which, if I remember correctly, are major logging areas but also from mineral-rich northern Norway, especially Finnmark, the northernmost county. Trømso, which is a lighter glitch on a sea of dark Labour red is more conservative and the fishing industry, more conservative, remains important there. It was also the base of the old Coastal Party.
Looking at the patterns of the Socialist Left could give the impression of a vote coming exclusively from hippies and the like, but it is not so although it’s vote in Oslo is more like that. In the city of Oslo, it’s strong in the urbane, diverse and yuppie areas downtown, most of which are former working-class areas. Those areas now have a high number of immigrants. I wouldn’t know exactly who votes for them in those areas, though. It is also strong in other areas which have suffered economically due to the loss of industries, such as iron ore in SV’s strongest northern municipalities or in Oslo’s poorer suburbs.
Centre is strong in central rural areas, obviously, and there seems to be much less of a linguistic divide than there is for Labour or the right. It seems to have been destroyed in the Bible Belt.
Progress is strong, in general, along the coasts of Norway, dominated by the fishing industry, a pattern even more striking if you look at the town maps in the various counties. It is also strong in the very conservative ‘Norwegian Bible Belt’. It is not as strong in the posher and urbane areas such as Oslo and its (albeit right-leaning) suburbia, Bergen and Trondheim. It would seem that Progress is stronger in lower-income fishing areas than anywhere else, though oil drilling is important off the western coast of Norway so it might be more of a drill-baby-drill vote than anything else.
The Conservatives main base remains larger cities, especially Oslo and notably its posh suburbia, where the party polled best on Monday. However, saying that the Conservative vote in Oslo and cities is a hippie vote would be very wrong – those types vote SV or Red. However, the Conservatives seem to hold on to a coastal and rural vote in the conservative Nynorsk-speaking coastal areas.
The Christian Democratic vote is a map of the religious, conservative, rural and Nynorsk-speaking Norwegian Bible Belt. It polls absolute crap in Oslo, predictably.
The Liberals seem to have been reduced to a upper middle-class and some yuppie vote in Oslo and its posh suburbia. Some of the Liberal Party’s best areas in Oslo also have a high SV vote, amusingly.
The Red vote is mostly a urbane hippie vote, as most of Red-type parties in Europe tend to be by far and large. It polled best in Oslo County but also well in Ordaland (Bergen) and Sør-Trøndelag (Trondheim).
Norway voted to renew its 169-seat unicameral legislature on September 14. I posted an overview of the main players, the pre-electoral situation and some notes on Norwegian electoral geography in preview post on September 5.
Labour 35.4% (+2.7%) winning 64 seats (+3)
Progress 22.9% (+0.9%) winning 41 seats (+3)
Conservative 17.2% (+3.1%) winning 30 seats (+7)
Socialist Left 6.2% (-2.6%) winning 11 seats (-4)
Centre 6.2% (-0.3%) winning 11 seats (±0)
Christian Democratic 5.5% (-1.2%) winning 10 seats (-1)
Liberal 3.9% (-2.1%) winning 2 seats (-8)
Red Electoral Alliance 1.4% (+0.1) winning 0 seats (±0)
Others 1.3% (-0.4%) winning 0 seats (±0)
Ap+SV+SP Majority (Red-Green): 86 seats
The government polled slightly better than expected, despite the expected Socialist Left thumping, and the Red-Green coalition option kept its majority, and it’s extremely likely that this coalition option will continue to govern Norway. The other surprise, kind of, was the little electoral progress of Progress, which did worse than expected, primarily to the benefit of the Conservative Party, which had a good night after their icy shower in 2005.
The Liberals fell below the 4% threshold and were reduced to 2 seats – these seats are two of the 150 seats allocated by county (constituency) based on the county results (the Liberal MPs come from Oslo and Akershus). There are 19 seats, one per county, allocated by on the national vote, and that’s where the 4% stuff comes in.
Very little changes, you’ll notice, from the 2005 coalitions map, except for the county of Buskerud, quite a swing county polarized, it appears, between some older industrial areas and the wealthier suburbs of Oslo. The county of Telemark remains surrounded by blue counties.
In terms of electoral geography by party, both the NRK and TV2 have great interactive maps showing the strength of the various parties by county and municipality. On a quick analysis, the right is strong in two general areas: the Nynorsk-speaking, rural, conservative southern coast and in Oslo and its suburbia. Oslo is more of a yuppie city, making it a top city for various movements: Red, SV, Liberals, but also the Conservatives, who in Norway have a much more urban profile than North American conservatives. The wealthier suburbs of Oslo are also strongly right-leaning.
For fun, a look at each party’s best municipality, courtesy of the great NRK:
Labour: Årdal (70.2%) – industrial city dominated by the aluminum industry. Hasvik, a isolated fishing island in the far north was Labour’s second best, with a distant 57.3% of the vote for the party there.
Progress: Farsund (39.8%) – a coastal municipality in very conservative Vest-Agder, with, it seems, a growing tourist industry. Not extremely affluent, though. Karmøy, a rural coastal village in the Rogaland, part of the Bible Belt, is a close second at 36.7%.
Conservative: Bærum (35.4%) – very affluent (if not the most affluent in Norway) and posh suburb of Oslo.
Socialist Left: Nesseby (16.9%) – Sami town in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county. It’s also close to a now-closed iron ore mine.
Centre: Gloppen (46.8%) – rural municipality in the Fjords.
Christian Democrats: Audnedal (31.7%) – rural municipality in conservative Vest-Agder, Norway’s Bible Belt.
Liberal: Ulvik (15%) – tourist town deep in the Fjords.
Red: Vågsøy (4.7%) – tourist and also major fishing town in the Fjords, town won by Progress. Oslo itself, at 4%, is a close second.