Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

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

    Bavaria votes!

    Bavaria votes!

    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).

    Germany 20052

    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.

    WorldElections predicts:

    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)
    Others 6%

    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).

    Brandenburg 2004

    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.

    Schleswig-Holstein 2005

    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.