Monday, 29 October 2012

Backdated - UNSC, ACT, etc.

It's the last Tuesday in October, which means...

It's almost Halloween?

Yes, but also, next Tuesday is the first Tuesday of November. As in, the Tuesday after the first Monday of November*. And we all know what that means**.

Oh no...

That's right! Dan's doing another*** US election coverage post!


What we've missed:

* The first Tuesday in November is not always the day after the first Monday of November.


Although the voting is such that we don't know who voted which way, it's a fun little vote to watch, if only for it's global appeal. There are a few of my facebook posts from this vote live, but here's the general summary: ther
e are 5 permanent seats (USA, Britain, France, Russia and China) and 10 non-permanent seats. These non-permanent seats are held for 2 years, with 5 seats up for election each year. These seats are divided among regional blocs to ensure that one continent [cough]Europe[/cough] doesn't hold all the power.

The Candidates:

This time, two seats for the African and Asian block, one for the Latin America and Caribbean block and two for the Western Europe and Others bloc were available. Ideally Africa and Asia are treated as separate, but low nomination rates among poorer countries mean the two are merged in practice. Each nation gets a form for each bloc.

On form A (Africa and Asia) there were four participants: Rwanda (the African vote), South Korea (the annoy North Korea vote), Cambodia (the at-least-you're-trying-to-prosecute-former
-Khmer-war-criminals vote) and Bhutan (the gross-national-happiness-index-is-both-awesome-and-cute vote). Naturally, I favoured Bhutan but traditionally you expect and African (Rwanda) and an Asian seat (South Korea being dominant), which relates back to the Asian and African blocs being theoretically separate.

On form B, nations had a choice of Argentina. That was it, although the results (below) are still interesting.

On form C there were three contenders. Finland, Luxembourg and Australia. Finish and Australian reporters both expected Finland to win in the first round. I have no idea what Luxembourg's reporters were saying.

How it Works:

You (assuming you are the voting nation's representative) get the forms. You write the name of the nation(s) you want to fill the available seat(s) on the relevant forms. You put the forms in a suspiciously shredder-like bin. The votes are counted. You need over two-thirds of the vote to get a seat (not counting invalid votes or abstentions). Now, the mathematically astute may realise that even in a two horse race, 66% may not naturally arise. (Especially when your vote is anonymous so you basically agree to vote for everyone to their face then stab them in the back. I love politics.) Take the 1979 stand-off between Columbia and Cuba. This wasn't settled on the first vote. Or the second. Or the 10th. Or the 100th. After 154 votes, a winner was determined: Mexico. (That's another story.)

So, assuming no abstentions, each seat needs 129 votes out of 193.

The Results:

First, a little sub-Saharan politics note. Rwanda is widely considered to be responsible for warfare, and even war-crimes, against other nations, in particular the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC do not like this very much. Before the vote, one can only interrupt on a procedural matter (i.e. you can only hold the floor to discuss how the vote is being conducted). The DRC did so, except replacing “procedural matter” with “open deceleration against Rwanda's military activities” at the last minute. Unconstitutional outburst? Perhaps. Warranted protest about an international security issue in front of the body responsible for monitoring and reporting on international security issues? Heck yeah!

So, to the results:

Form A (Asia and Africa) – Round 1:
1 abstention, 128 votes to win a seat

Rwanda – 148, seat awarded in round 1 (gosh darn it!)
Republic of Korea – 116, insufficient, continues to round 2
Cambodia – 62, insufficient, continues to round 2
Bhutan – 20, insufficient, excluded (Noooo!)
Tanzania – 3 (Tanzania, you crazy cats! You not on list of contenders!)
DRC – 1 (Protest vote! No kidding who voted DRC!)

Form A (Asia and Africa) – Round 2:
1 invalid vote, 128 votes to win a seat

Republic of Korea – 149, seat awarded
Cambodia – 62, insufficient, excluded

Form B (Latin America and Caribbean) – Round 1:
8 abstentions, 1 invalid vote, 123 votes to win a seat

Argentina – 182, seat awarded (well, duh!)
Barbados – 1 (Barbados? What are you up to?)*
Cuba – 1 (Et tu, Cuba?)*

Form C (Western Europe and Other) – Round 1:
129 votes to win a seat

Australia – 140, seat awarded in round 1 (heck yeah!)
Luxembourg – 128, insufficient, continues to round 2 (but only 1 vote off! Heck, one informal vote and these guys would be in.)
Finland – 108, insufficient, continues to round 2 (but you were meant to be the favourite!)

Form C (Western Europe and Other) – Round 2:
129 votes to win a seat

Luxembourg – 131, seat awarded (Ha, hahaha, ha! Awesome!)
Finland – 62, insufficient, excluded (BUT YOU WERE MEANT TO BE THE FAVOURITE!)

So there you have it: Rwanda, South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Luxembourg join carry-over nations Morocco (Africa), Togo (Africa), Guatemala (Latin America and Caribbean), Pakistan (Asia) and Azerbaijan (Eastern Europe). There must also always be one Arab state on the council, in this case Morocco.

* Technically, there's no proof these were Barbados and Cuba voting for themselves. This could be others nation voting for them so it looks like Barbados and Cuba don't like Argentina. I would so be that nation, just to stir up a little, non-militant discord. (NB: This is why I'm not in international diplomacy.) I personally want to believe Barbados and Cuba agreed to vote for each other so they can truthfully say “I didn't vote for myself” and still not vote for Argentina.

Okay, ACT's pretty simple. Unicameral legislature, so only one vote. No upper-house or lower-house contrasts. No Labor win here and Liberal win there. No two-tier lists with different voting mechanisms or distributions.

One list.

17 seats.

No fun.

Okay, there is some fun, but not much to report. The Canberra Times and National Press both expected Labor to continue to hold power in a minority government, with the Greens holding balance of power in a left-wing coalition (not to be confused the the Coalition). Statu Futuńďns Quo (pardon my Latin). Interestingly, ACT uses the Hare-Clark system of voting, perhaps the best proportional representative voting system in use today, but also a slightly complicated system (I said there was some fun!)

Note too that ANY proportional representative voting system (a system where surplus votes overflow as fractions of a vote to other candidates) would have resolved the UNSC voting on form C in one round with exactly the same result (assuming more Finland was the second preference for no more than about 90% of all Australian votes (which round 2 pretty firmly proves)).

It would also most likely have resolved Form C in round 1 with no change in results, making the entire UNSC vote much quicker. Hare-Clark system: 9/10 for efficiency, 2/10 for suspense.


Labor, prior to the election, held 7 seats, Liberals held 6 and Greens 4. Interestingly, Greens held the balance of power in the ACT and in Tasmania, which both use the Hare-Clark system. In both cases it worked a lot better than the Federal minority government too.

How it Works:

So, you need 9 seats to hold power. That's basically all you need to know, but I'm going to keep on typing. Skip on down to the results. You know you want to. Heck, just stop reading. I'm amazed anyone read this far! Thanks for the interest though! Make a comment below including the word 'bandanna' if you have read this far, by the way... thought so. No one.

Okay, the Hare-Clark system. Basically, there is a quota. Reach that quota of votes, and you win a seat. The ACT uses the Hare Quota, although the Droop Quota will yield very similar results in most situations. The Hare Quota does technically favour minor parties to a small extent, with hilarious* results in Hong Kong.

Basically, the Hare Quota is what you expect: you need more than V/S votes, where V is the number of valid votes and S is the number of seats. In a 1 seat election, you need 100% of the vote (after, redistribution, I'll explain this soon). With two seats up for grabs, you need 50% of the vote. For three-seater elections you need 33% and so on. (The Droop Quota is basically the “obvious” quota system: over 50% in a 1 seat election, over 33% in a two seater, over 25% in a three seater and so forth.)

Now, once someone reaches the quota, their extra votes flow on to a second preference, and then a third. This is where it get's cool, though anyone who follows Federal or State upper-house statistics (and frankly, who doesn't?) will already know this. Say a candidate has 110 votes – 10 more than needed. Obviously you can't just pick ten votes to flow on, so roughly 91% of each vote stays with that candidate (equal to 100% of the quota) and 9% of each vote flows on. That means a second candidate might get 21% of a vote, giving them a total of, say, 93.21 votes.

So, each person to fill a quota passes on their overflow in this way until all the seats are filled, or no-one has reached the quota (e.g. in a 4 seat election, two candidates have reached 25% of the vote and the other 50% is divided among 5 other candidates, with an average of 10% each.) In this case, the person with the least votes is eliminated and their votes flow on to their second preferences.

Ever wondered why it takes so long to count the votes? Now you know.

The Results:

Labor gained a seat. Liberals gained 2. Greens (obviously) lost three. So, Labor and Liberal each have 8, and the Greens side with Labor. Much as predicted, only closer.

*Hilarious by electoral statistic standards, anyway. Basically, all major parties pretend to be minor parties by listing each candidate as on separate tickets – basically as independents.

Basically, heaps of them happened. I didn't follow them as closely as the others, but SBS world news provides a nice occasional update. Also, their tag line is pretty cool*.

This month alone:

Czech Republic – Senate elections. 1/3 of the senate is elected every 2 years, giving each member a 6-year term.

Czech Republic (again) – It's a crazy carry-over thing when no-one reaches the quota.

Including carry-overs, the leading social-democrat party has increased its lead from 41 to 46 seats out of a possible 81.

Georgia – Georgian Dream, which didn't exist last election, won the majority. Basically, it's a chimera of all the failed past Georgian parties, from left-wing liberals to right-wing racists, and including Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who is currently the worlds 114th best chess player (ELO: 2637)

(85/150 seats, 76 needed to govern)

Lithuania – Social democrats lead here, too, but with only 38 seats of 141 it could well be that the Homeland Union (33 seats) returns if it can form a majority coalition, as it did last time with the National Resurrection Party, Liberal and Centre party and the regular Liberals. This election was coupled with a referendum, which fell against the proposal for a new nuclear power plant. Lithuania relies on foreign energy after closing its Chernobyl-like plant in 2009, thirteen years after Chernobyl failed, and 5 years after agreeing to do so with the EU. Speed, it seems, is not their strong point (but see China, below). Iceland also held a referendum this month on additions to the constitution. Not even I am anal enough to report on Icelandic constitutional changes. Not until after the US elections anyway.

Lithuania (again) – another carry-over thing. (See Czech Republic (again))

Montenegro – Coalition for a European Montenegro lost some ground but still hold the lead with 39 seats out of 79 – one short of a majority.

Ukraine – I think the ambiguously named “Party of Regions” has improved its lead from 175 seats. Sounds like a lot, but it's just over a third of the total 450, and requires another 51 seats. Still, if over 175 seats isn't a good starting point, there's something wrong with the system.

Vanuatu – TODAY! With 52 seats, you need 27 for a majority. Currently, the biggest party has only 11 seats, and the ruling coalition was formed of 8 parties. Now, its ten parties after a few splits. Expect more of the same, with 32 parties and over 300 candidates this time round. There has been some previous problems, with candidates being barred from running (which might help, when you think about it) have been resolved. Personally, I'd suggest watching the Land and Justice Party. It's new, but popular. But then, even if it wins a double-digit number of seats (that's right, more than 9, people!) there's no reason to assume it will be part of a coalition. With this many parties combining into dozens of possible coalitions, how really knows? Not me, that's the heck sure.

Venezuela – Hugo Chavez is still in, with just over 55% of the vote and most of the states. A picture is worth more words that I can write coherently at this hour:

Also China starts voting this month, and finishes in February. Why? Well, as far as I understand, the National People's Congress is elected by a council, which is in turn elected by the Provincial People's Congresses. The Provincial People's Congresses are voted for by another council, voted for by the Prefecture-level People's Congresses, who are voted for by (you guessed it) another council elected by the county-, town- and city-level Peoples Congresses.

Luckily, that is where it ends.

Unless you live in a city divided into districts, of course, in which case the City's People's Congress is elected by a council which is elected by the district Peoples Congresses. The district Peoples Congresses, like the county-, town- and city-not-divided-into-districts-level Peoples Congresses are elected by the people.

Now, if we are honest, the chance of a non-Communist Party member being elected to the lowest level is average at best. The CCP will normally dominate that level, and few non-CCP members will make the council that elects the next level, much less get elected to that next level. Perhaps 1 or two might get through, but then there's another level, and another. So basically, there is no way a non-CCP member will make it to the National People's Congress. Right?

Well, there is some truth to this weeding-out process but actually, there are 888 non-CCP members in the NPC. Sure, they're dwarfed by the 2,099 CCP members, but that's still over 25%. That's enough to win a seat in a 4-seat Hare-Clark election (or a 3-seat droop election)! Turns out China's isn't an entirely corrupt political system. Far from it. Shame on you for thinking such things!

Still, the prediction is … predictable. Significant CCP dominance, with some non-CCP members chilling out on the side. Since at least the 80s, non-CCP members have numerically been in the mid-400s to mid-500s. Only with the last election did the spike to 888 emerge. Is the CCP losing power? Is the country starting to accept the idea of an alternative government? Did the CCP just have a bad year and have now recovered to reduce the non-CCP numbers back to the 500s? I'll let you know in 4 months. If I remember...

*News from home. If you live in the world.

So, US elections... I'll tell you tomorrow. 

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