Saturday, April 27, 2013

Around the world

Teddy again with a quick look at politics around the world.

We start today in Japan, where a summer election for the upper house is scheduled. If the polls are to be believed  the ruling party, the conservative leaning LDP should be able to obtain a simple majority in the chamber. It will, however, most certainly be able to achieve this, as it is current in a coalition with a smaller party that is expected to end the election with 20 or so seats in the chamber.

More interesting are the polls for the lower house in Japan, which show, once undecideds are eliminated, the LDP sitting on a whopping 70% of the vote.

Next is Iceland, which is having it's next election right now. No really, the ballots are being counted as we speak. As it is early, there are no results yet, but I will keep you all updated in the comments section. Iceland is the country that went "bankrupt" a little while back, and, had debated adopting the Loonie. The majority of the population lives either in the Capital city, or in the suburbs around it. It is so far north that during parts of the summer, it is always light outside.

Norway, another Nordic country, is having it's election in September  It will be interesting as this is the first election since the major attack on that country a few years back. The attacker was a member of the Progressives, who, despite their name, are a right-wing party. The Progressives are Norway's answer to the US Republican Party. It will be interesting to see if the party can recover it's lost standing since these attacks. Polls say it already has.

The most recent seat projections have the Conservatives on 57 seats, up from 30, over Labour at 50, down from 64. The Christian Democrats and Liberals, Conservative allies, are expected to bring in around 15 seats total, while the Centre Party and Socialist Party, Labour allies, are expected to bring a total of 16. The Progressives would then have to be in a right-wing government, as their projected 30 seats would hold the balance of power.

How this unfolds could be rather interesting.

September is a busy month, also hosting the Australian election. Australia is the country with the political system closest to our own, yet, even then things are very different. With a "EEE" style Senate, and a Preferential Ballot for the lower house, elections tend to carry more variation than found here in Canada.

The Coalition - an alliance of related right-wing parties, including the Liberals, the Nationals, and the Liberal-Nationals (among others) is currently leading the polls while the left-wing Labor party looks set for a loss. Labor, which gets some support from Labour, currently hold the government, but has faced instability. A few years ago Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was overthrown and replaced with Julia Gillard. Gillard herself was almost overthrown by Rudd a few months ago, and people keep pressing for that option. Imagine if you will Gordon Campbell attempting a comeback as BC Liberal leader and you see the problems this would cause.

Perhaps more "fun" is the fact that Labor and the Coalition are tied at 72 seats each in the current House, and some independent MPs are pushing for a Vote of Non-Confidence due to Labor's problems.

Later the same month is the German election. The Conservative CDU/CSU has a massive lead in the polls at 40%, over the Social Democrats at 28% and the Greens at 14%. The problem they face is Germany is nearly always lead by a coalition, and the latter two have a combined 42%. The CDU's normal alliance partner is struggling to make the 5% threshold. The Left, a party formed, in part, out of the former East German Communists, is above the threshold, making for a possible spoiler, preventing either of the two traditional coalitions from taking a majority.

Options to solve this are simple to list but difficult to pull off. First, the Social Democrats and Greens could attempt to invite the Left in; the Left however has refused to do so in the past on the federal level; but has done so in the Lander (Provinces). Second, the CDU could attempt a coalition with the Greens. While this also has been done in the Lander, the Greens and CDU have not been seeing eye-to-eye on many issues in the past few years, and the Greens may be unwilling to do so. The final option is what happened the last time the two "normal" coalitions failed to secure a majority, and that is a coalition between the CDU and Social Democrats.

At the end of September, Austria goes to the polls. Not normally a place to attract interest, this time is different, with Frank Stronach, father of Belinda, having created his own party. Stronach sits at about 10% in the polls, behind the Socialists at 27%, the Conservatives at 24%, and the Freedom Party, which has had far-right accusations thrown at it under certain leaders in the past, at 20%. The Greens also currently sit ahead of Stronach at 14%.

It should be noted that somewhat like Switzerland, Austria likes the idea of putting 'everyone' in Government. In particular, the Socialists and Conservatives have been part of an on-again-off-again coalition that has lasted, more or less, since the war.

On the local level, a big election is coming up on May the 2nd in the UK. Various local authorities (counties and municipalities) go to the polls to pick new councillors. As a mostly rural election, it is no surprise that the Conservatives hold the overwhelming majority of the seats up for election. What will be of interest is to see if the anti-European party UKIP can break in to right-wing Conservative held areas and win seats of their own.


  1. Iceland results as of now.

    19 - Independence Party - Conservative
    17 - Progressive - Liberal Anti-Europe
    9 - Social Democrats
    9 - Left-Greens
    5 - Liberal-Greens - Liberal, also Green
    4 - Pirate Party

  2. Alternate Count (yea, all the data is in a language I do not speak)

    19 - Independence
    16 - Progressive
    8 - Social Democratic
    7 - Left Green
    3 - Liberal Greens
    1 - Pirate Party

  3. It would seem the first tally is more likely the accurate one. Iceland offers national PR seats to supplement it's local PR seats. This would explain why the first set of numbers is higher, as it likely contains a mathematical based projection for the distribution of those national levelling seats.

    Any government formed out of this will need 32 seats. I don't know the history of the parties, but it seems to be the top two might be able to cobble together a coalition.

  4. How did the Social Democrats end up crashing so badly?

  5. They happened to be the sitting government during bad economic times.

  6. Interesting that, like the UK election, they report every counting place individually. Somebody reads it out for the TV. Says the vote numbers two times. For example, image CBC saying "and a polling place in Toronto Danforth has just closed, lets go to Rand Omguy for details" "Hi, the votes are as follows. NDP. 101, 101 votes. Liberal. 50, 50 votes." etc etc. Since Iceland, unlike the UK, but like Canada, reports polling stations and not whole ridings at once, this means the count "progresses" as it does here. With the population of Newfoundland however, it's possible to focus in on each individual polling station.

    This is what their TV coverage looks like (with some edits by me to make it easier to understand)

    This is a good place to follow:

    The parties are all represented by a single letter.
    D is the Conservatives
    B is the Liberals (Progressives)
    S is the Social Democrats
    V is the Left Greens
    A is the Liberal Greens
    Þ is the Pirates

    Þ is a Icelandic letter, somesort of b/p that makes a th sound.

    As it stands...
    D - 20 - Consevative
    B - 19 - Liberal (likely ally of Conservatives)
    S - 10 - Social Democrat
    V - 8 - Left-Greens
    A - 6 - Liberal Greens
    Þ - 0 - Pirates

    It should be noted that while writing this, the Pirates tipped back above the 5% nationwide threshold, and would then thus qualify for seats again.

    Lastly, I've looked it up, and the Progressives are indeed likely to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

    1. Yea, been confirmed. "Bjarni vill tveggja flokka ríkisstjórn" ...which means, if Google Translate has translated the article correctly, that the Independence Party (Conservative) leader will be approaching the Progressive Party (Liberal) leader about forming a coalition government.

    2. Are the Liberals classical or social liberals like our party?

  7. Thanks for your coverage Teddy, this is interesting stuff. Looking forward to L'Hermine's write-up too.

  8. As more and more votes roll in, the current expected final results remain:

    D - 20 - Consevative
    B - 19 - Liberal (likely ally of Conservatives)
    S - 10 - Social Democrat
    V - 8 - Left-Greens
    A - 6 - Liberal Greens
    Þ - 0 - Pirates

    While the Pirates are above the 5% threshold, I believe they may need to win one of the regional PR seats to qualify for the national ones... but I am not certain. As a small non-english country, exact details on how the seats are distributed are hard to find.

    Regardless, this is probably my last update. I had not expected to even follow this election; it just happened to be taking place when I had the sudden uurge to make the above post!

  9. Looks like the Pirates will get in after all!

    Results (95% counted)

    19 seats - 26.7% - Conservative (Indp.) [Gain of 3 seats]
    19 seats - 24.3% - Liberal (Progressive) [Gain of 10 seats]
    9 seats - 12.9% - Social Democratic Party [Loss of 11 seats]
    7 seats - 10.9% - The Left Green Party - [Loss of 7 seats]
    6 seats - 8.4% - Liberals and a bit Greens [Gain of 6 seats]
    3 seats - 5.1% - Iceland's Pirate Party - [Gain of 3 seats]

    In First place in the Urban ridings is the Conservatives, with the Liberals in a close second. In Rural ridings, it is the Liberals in first, with the Conservatives in a close second. This is why the two tie in seats despite the Conservatives having a higher vote total.

  10. Apparently, this
    is how you vote in Iceland.