Archive for September, 2009

Ireland on the verge of election

The Republic of Ireland could be less than two weeks away from the triggering of a general election. The Green Party will be meeting on October 10 to vote on a new program for government, and the party’s leader, John Gormley, has made it clear that if the program doesn’t achieve two thirds support at the meeting, the party will leave the government, which would likely deprive Fianna Fail of a majority in the Dail. So we could be seeing a new election soon in Ireland.

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Germany’s constituency results

The website of the Federal Returning Officer in Germany has great maps showing the results of the German election (as well as the previous election). In particular, they’ve produced maps showing the results in each constituency. Germany’s Bundestag includes 299 MPs representing single-member constituenncy, as well as at least 299 list MPs. I’ve posted the maps after the fold, very interesting.

Read the rest of this entry »

German election: SPD collapse, CDU win

The Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union are on track to form a new government in Germany following yesterday’s election, although the conservative major party has only made modest gains.

The big change, however, is the collapse in support for the Social Democrats. The SPD, who polled 34.2% in 2005, have collapsed to 22.9%, which will cost them one third of their seats.

The biggest gains, however, are for the three opposition minor parties, who have all achieved record results. The 2005 election saw the biggest ever result for minor parties, with the three parties gaining 166 seats. The previous record was 126 seats, which was set in both 1994  and 1998.

In comparison, the three minor parties appear to have won 237 seats, 90 more than the Social Democrats and only two seats less than the CDU/CSU coalition.

The Free Democrats have won 93 seats, up 32 on 2005. The Left Party has gained 22 seats for a total of 76, and the Greens have gained 17 seats for a total of 68. These results are records for each party. I’ve based my figures on the Deutsche Welle website, from where I shamelessly ripped off these graphs:

germangraph1germangraph2

The ‘others’ vote has been inflated from 2005. While the far-right NPD has largely remained steady on 1.5%, the new Pirate Party polled 2%, which is impressive for their first election.

New Senate guides posted

I have now completed guides to the races for the Senate in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. I’d appreciate any comments. In particular I’m stll looking for information on preselections for the Senate within the major parties.

Fletcher favourite for Bradfield

The Herald this morning is reporting that the favourite for today’s Liberal preselection for the Bradfield by-election is communications executive Paul Fletcher. Liberal Party sources have also confirmed to me that number crunchers following the preselection believe Fletcher has the numbers to win.

Fletcher is not a Bradfield local and opponents have raised the spectre of his candidacy triggering a local backlash.

In other news, other Liberal preselections have also closed, with Concetta Fierravanti-Wells expected to safely win the #1 spot on the ticket with Bill Heffernan being challenged by Pfizer executive David Miles.

Dead-wood MPs Phillip Ruddock, Bronwyn Bishop, Alby Schultz and Pat Farmer have all renominated in their seats of Berowra, Mackellar, Hume and Macarthur respectively, although there are rumours that both Ruddock and Farmer may be challenged.

Update: Fletcher has now been preselected.

Could there be a Victorian redistribution in 2010?

There’s been an assumption that the next federal redistribution for Victoria will be delayed until after the 2010 federal election. Victoria last had a redistribution in 2002, and every seven years a state must have a redistribution. However, redistributions cannot begin in the last year of a House of Representatives term.

I was examining the relevant dates for a possible Victorian redistribution tonight, and it appears that there will likely be a redistribution, although it probably won’t take effect for the 2010 election.

No redistribution can commence in the last year before the expiry of the House of Representative, which will take place on February 11 2011. So a new redistribution would need to commence by February 11 2010. Otherwise the redistribution would be postponed until after the federal election and would take effect at the next federal election in 2012 or 2013.

The last Victorian redistribution concluded in December 2002. So seven years later would be December 2009. Thus a redistribution could commence in December 2009 or January 2010.

However, while this would mean a redistribution would take place next year, it would be extremely unlikely that the changes would be implemented in time for the federal election. The Queensland and New South Wales redistributions are currently scheduled to take a full ten months from the beginning of the process to the conclusion. Earlier redistributions took a full twelve-month period to redraw boundaries. Even if you were able to compress a Victorian redistribution down to ten months, it would not conclude before November 2010. The process would need to conclude before an election would be called, which would mean the election would need to be held in December 2010 or in 2011. This isn’t going to happen.

You would also think that no political party, including the ALP, would want to be put in a position where a redistribution would only conclude weeks before an election is called, so you would assume Rudd would call the election at a time which would avoid using redistributed electoral boundaries in Victoria.

So what do you think? Is my logic right?

Electoral Reform Green Paper released

The federal government today released its second Electoral Reform Green Paper, following on from a Green Paper dealing with election funding released in December 2008.

The document is a comprehensive examination of all issues around Australian elections, blowing out to 260 pages in total.  Each chapter includes a section on areas for potential change, and in these areas the paper canvasses a mind-boggling range of options in terms of changing our electoral system and electoral practices. The mainstream media coverage has largely focused on issues like fixed four-year terms and lowering the voting age to 16, but the paper also covers issues such as:

  • Introducing proportional representation in the House of Representatives, either through Hare-Clark or a list system.
  • Creating special electorates for expatriates or indigenous Australians
  • Requiring the registration of how-to-vote cards
  • Regulating internal party processes such as preselections to ensure internal democracy
  • Introducing optional preferential voting
  • Reforming enrolment systems and many elements of AEC processes
  • Abolishing compulsory voting (11.71)
  • Allowing permanent residents to vote
  • Disenfranchising the 157,000 British subjects who are currently enrolled without Australian citizenship

It’s well worth a read, if only for learning a lot more about how elections work in Australia. It’s fair to say that the paper brings up many options that are politically unpalatable and very unlikely, but it is a fascinating read.

Submissions can be made up to 27 November, while they will also have an online discussion forum from the 9th to the 13th November to allow interested persons to discuss the paper online.

Maps of German election results

With Germany voting next week to elect a new Bundestag, I thought people might find these maps of the German results from the European Parliament election interesting. They are available on the website of the Federal Returning Officer, and show the level of support for each party by state and district, as well as maps showing who won each district and state. My favourite map has been posted below, which shows the level of support for the Left Party in each district. Notice a pattern?

Latest UK map update: England finished

I’m happy to report that I have now finished the English part of my UK House of Commons electoral map. I have uploaded it to the maps page, and you can download it here. This is the final version of the map as I plan to keep the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish maps as separate files. I have now started work on the Welsh map.

uk533edit

Labor MPs off the leash

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story today reporting planning by the NSW Liberal Party for the 2011 state election based on the assumption that the Labor Party will allow vulnerable candidates to present themselves as independent figures and oppose various state government policies:

NSW Labor MPs desperately seeking re-election in 2011 will be allowed to campaign against their own government in order to portray themselves as Aussie battlers fighting for their constituents.

That’s the view of Liberal Party masterminds who have prepared a bloody campaign battle plan based on international strategies.

Liberal Party state director Mark Neeham has warned his troops Labor is shaping up for a no-holds-barred war in which its MPs will appear to turn on the Rees Government.

Mr Neeham drew on the advice of international political strategists to prepare a four-point bulletin for Liberal MPs, warning them of the Labor campaign techniques they would have to counteract.

It’s not a particularly remarkable strategy for the ALP, although the Herald does present its story as revealing a leak from the ALP when there are no ALP sources quoted in the article.

The ALP has previously employed tactics where MPs in difficult positions present themselves as diverging from the party. Country Labor MPs have attempted to craft a different brand, whilst Labor MPs in inner-city seats targetted by the Greens have also employed such tactics. Federal MPs Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek have openly supported same-sex marriage while state MP for Balmain Verity Firth has publicly criticised the Roads Minister for plans in her electorate. In addition, many ALP candidates at last September’s local government election presented themselves as ‘Local Labor’ specifically to provide some distance from the Labor government.

I think there are a small number of Labor MPs who will benefit from such a campaign, but I can’t see it working no a significant scale. There are a very small number of Labor MPs who have carved out an independent profile as free-thinking politicians who are able to criticise their party, and those MPs tend to be older MPs in safe seats or planning to retire. In addition, I can’t see the strategy working on major issues that affect the whole state. They may be used for specific local issues where the state government has enraged a local community, but that’s about it.

As an example, stories in the media have reported that the four Labor MPs from the Macarthur region, Graham West in Campbelltown, Geoff Corrigan in Camden, Andrew McDonald in Macquarie Fields and Phil Costa in Wollondilly, have challenged Nathan Rees over the planned sell-off of land belonging to Hurlstone Agricultural High School in Glenfield. I could see these MPs (particularly marginal-seat MPs Costa and Corrigan) openly criticising the Education Minister and the government backing down at the last minute. Yet most of the benefit from this would be in Macquarie Fields, where the sitting MP, Andrew McDonald, is not running again. I can’t see it being of much benefit to the new candidate, and of little benefit to those in more marginal seats.

Overall, voters have not turned away from the NSW Labor government over local issues, it’s the big statewide issues that the government probably couldn’t fix now even if it wanted to. The ALP has also been so successful in suppressing dissent amongst its members of Parliament that any attempt to paint it’s MPs as fiercely independent local heroes will probably fail to stick.