Friday, June 23, 2017

Schedule Interruption

Just a quick notice that some things are going on in my personal life right now that is taking up all my time. This should end after the 28th

Monday, June 19, 2017

Is modern "progressive" europe built on a crime?

This is a different sort of post.

In discussions with people from the balkans, I find a strong opinion on genocide and ethnic cleansing, as would be expected. To quote someone from Slovenia, who I asked about both just now, "They are both equally bad"

This seems to be the prevailing opinion not just within the balkan states, but around the world.

To ensure that this post is clear I want to explain what I see as the key difference between the two; intentionally causing death.

Genocide is a campaign to kill another ethnicity.

Ethnic Cleansing is a campaign to remove them from the land.

To begin I want to examine various states with "mixed" ethnicities and how they've done since the end of WW2, by looking at each and every country in Europe with over 10% of the population from a minority group.

Switzerland is the bright spot. While officially everyone is "swiss" one could easily split the country across the franco/germanic divide. Despite that, Switzerland is peaceful and modern and stable.

Wales is the next biggest success story, but has a weak but ingrained separatist party.

The baltic states of Estonia and Latvia are often beset by instability caused, in part, by their large russian minority and a split in both countries over east-west relations.

The former USSR itself fell apart not only due to communism collapsing, but due to the desires and wants of the various ethnic republics.

Of those republics, Moldova and Ukraine, both over this 10% barrier, have separatist Russian communities that have set up their own states. Belarus is the only former republic with such a large minority without instability and much of this is due to the totalitarian dictatorship that exists in the nation.

Yugoslavia is another former state that split up due to ethnic tension, with only Slovenia being below the 10% barrier, and also, stable. Every other republic has faced problems. Bosnia, Serbia (Kosovo) and Croatia, has faced violent war, while Montenegro and Macedonia face internal instability.

Cyprus faced a civil war and remains divided to this day.

Northern Ireland also faced major troubles for decades due to the split there.

Belgium, however, the most "progressive" and "western" of these, has avoided mass violence but has had over a decade if instability and many separatist movements.

Why is it, though, that I wanted to look at countries with over 10% belonging to a minority group?

Because of what happened after WW2.

Ethnic Cleansing of Germans.

The scattered German population across Eastern and Southern europe was one of the factors that lead to WW2.

Consider that after this event, and the similar expulsion of the Polish by the Soviets, that both Germany and Poland have only within the past few years faced the same kind of "mainstream" rabid nationalism that we've seen for decades in France.

As such my argument here is a simple one.

The "Modern" and "Progressive" Europe that people idolize, is, in part, built on ethnic cleansing, and that, in short, Europe should be ashamed.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Macron wins majority in Parliament

In today's 2nd round of the French parliamentary elections, President Macron's party, En Marche, has won a majority.

With 300 confirmed victories, they will be able to command a clear majority within the 577 seat National Assembly.

With their ally the Democratic Movement, they will hold at least 341 seats.

The Conservatives have won at least 135, with the main Republican party winning 113 of these.

The Socialists alliance has won at least 44, with the party itself taking 29.

The Communist alliance has won at least 27, but of these the party holds only 10, with Melenchon's party winning 17, potentially allowing it to sit as it's own grouping within the Assembly.

The National Front has won 8 seats, including that of Marine Le Pen, and an additional seat has been won by their ally party, France Arise.

3 Independents have won seats as well as 5 Regionalists.

Counting continues for the final 13 seats, however the shape of the results will not drastically change.

This result is down on earlier projections for Macron. as it seems some voters simply voted against his party causing a less favourable vote transfer in the 2nd round than expected. The change in the results map from the 1st round leaders to 2nd round winners shows that shift. It implies that Macron may already be starting to get some push back from the electorate and any honeymoon he has will be short lived.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Christy Clark's plan

Given some of the news that has come out since the election, I thought I would explain exactly what Clark is doing, how, and why.

There are 87 seats in the BC Legislature. The Liberals hold 43, the NDP hold 41, and the Greens hold 3. One of the MLAs will need to serve as speaker. You need 44 MLAs to have a majority.

The plan is this. Clark, as the incumbent premier, has the right to meet the house and test its confidence. All premiers do. Even if the NDP had won 60 seats, she still would have this right. It's simply custom that Premiers in Canada stand down when it becomes clear and obvious they will lose a confidence vote. The Liberals will put up a candidate for Speaker during this period. This means there will be 1 speaker, 42 Liberals, and 44 members of the Coalition (NDP-Green) that will vote on issues.

It is unclear if Clark will call a direct VONC (Vote of Non-Confidence) or will simply try to pass a throne speech, which itself, is automatically also a VONC. The result will, regardless, be the same. The VONC is expected to pass, 44-42, and Clark will be forced to resign as Premier.

At this stage, John Horgan would probably be asked to become Premier by the LtG.

Horgan would then need to submit his own Throne Speech.

This is where things get tricky. Clark says the then-current speaker will resign, and that no Liberal will run for Speaker. This means it is possible that an NDP MLA will need to become Speaker. This would mean 1 speaker, 43 Liberals, and 43 Coalition members. The Throne Speech would thus be a tie.

However, according to tradition, the speaker votes against VONC motions, and so, a throne speech may well pass. Clark could even have an MLA or two sit out the vote specifically so it does.

The problem comes when it is budget time, as there is simply no way the Coalition, under these circumstances, could pass a budget. The speaker would likely have to vote against it, and this would bring down the government.

It gets even more complicated.

While I can find information saying Denison's rules would have a speaker vote against both Budgets and Amendments to the Throne Speech; I can't find the rules for the speech itself; however, given amendments are given special attention as a "no" it would imply that yes, a speaker is to support a governments throne speech. Regardless, the sitting speaker may simply decide that Denison's rules are unclear, or, outdated, and vote against a Throne Speech, or vote for Budgets.

Additionally, the LtG could simply decide that Horgan can not actually obtain the confidence of the house, and, as a result, refuse his request to be Premier and simply call another election.

The Coalition's best hope is for a Liberal to agree to be speaker under an NDP Government. The reason this is unlikely is that the current speaker, Linda Reid, almost certainly was spoken to (by Clark) prior to her announcement, and, any Liberal agreeing to do this, would be ending their political career.

Finally; things could simply play out as Clark intends. She'd fail the VONC, Horgan would become Premier, lose his majority, win his VONC, but fail at his first budget. This could mean a year of NDP government without a majority in the Legislature. Why would Clark do this?

The simple answer is that governing is hard. The NDP will almost certainly not be able to carry out everything they planned to, even if they had a majority of their own. Additionally, there may be things she knows that we do not - for example, there may be a hidden deficit that will require unpopular cuts. Lastly, there were many Green voters who wanted the party to go into coalition with the Liberals. Clark can now say to all of them that the only way to get a Liberal government is to vote Liberal and that a vote for the Greens is a vote for the NDP.

In the end, this is a good strategy from Clark that has one major flaw; it requires loyalty. That does not mean I expect any BC Liberal MLA to join the NDP, or, agree to sit as speaker under an NDP government, but, MLAs get job offers from private firms from time to time, and in order for Clark to maintain the 43 seats she needs to block the Coalition, she will require each and every MLA to remain in the legislature and not decide to leave for a better job, or even for personal reasons. If as much as one BCL MLA resigns, this entire strategy unravels, and should the by-election result in a Coalition victory, it is game over for Christy Clark.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

13JUN2017 Update

Next week features the 2nd round of the French elections. I'm also keeping an eye on things in Kosovo and Albania. 

Puerto Rico held a referendum on becoming a state, with over 97% voting for statehood; but turnout was only 23% and as a result the vote will likely be ignored. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

French Elections, and some random balkan history

The counting in the first round of the french elections are wrapping up. Only a handful of seats have an official winner, someone who has taken 50%+1 of the vote, in the remainder, two candidates will go head to head next week. Despite that, there are projections, done by the media, that show how well things are going. From them I've developed my own projection which is as follows:

420 Liberals
100 Conservatives
25 Socialists
15 Communists
5 Nationalists
12 Others

This would give Macron a massive majority in the House.

There are two main parties making up the Liberals, REM, Macron's own party, and MoDem, the centrist Liberal party lead by Bayrou which has existed for some years. The 420 seats is their combined total.

In 2002, the combined Conservative seat total was 399

In 1993, the Conservatives managed a whopping 485 seats, however, this was at a time of a Socialist Presidency, and so, could not be counted as part of the "President's Majority" in the same way the 2002 Conservatives, or 2017 Liberals can.

In 1981 the Socialists took 333 seats in a smaller chamber, but they would have had to have taken 358 to beat the share of seats Macron is expecting.

1962 saw 324 seats for the President's Conservatives

However, all of this pales to the events of 1968.

In may of that year, France was hit by general strikes and occupations of universities and factories, causing de Gaulle, who had the balls to stand up to Hitler, to flee the country for a few hours. Within 24 hours of returning, he called an election and dissolved Parliament. This caused the strikes to die down

This election saw the return of 91 Socialist and Communist members, and a whopping and massive 396 Conservatives to the 487 seat assembly; a number equal to 470 seats in the modern 577 seat assembly.

Things are a bit more complex in the Senate.

Elections will be held in September for half of the Senate. The other half is composed of
91 Conservatives
33 Moderates
48 Socialists
2 Communists
4 Others

Keep in mind that Macron has shown an ability to attract sitting members of other parties to his side. It is possible that half of the Socialists, a dozen of the Conservatives, and nearly every Moderate will choose to sit with his party. Macron has also won nearly every seat from the Socialists, and up to half from the Conservatives. If that trend continued, his Senate results could be expected to be as follows:

184 Liberals
108 Conservatives
30 Socialists
20 Communists
6 Others

However, there is a major caveat.

The senate is not chosen by popular vote, it is chosen by an electoral college, one made up of municipal councillors. As such, projections should be taken with a grain of salt. The current Senate makeup is as follows:

143 Conservatives
122 Socialists
56 Moderates
18 Communists
9 Others

Lastly, a bit of world history, in particular, nearing the end of WW2.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard of d-day and the invasion of Normandy, when the US, and UK (including Canada) invaded NAZI occupied France, and liberated it from the Germans.

Most also know that the US and UK invaded Italy, and that Italy switched sides, and these armies drove up the peninsula, and liberated Italy.

Many know that the US and UK, after invading Normandy, attacked Germany. In the process, the US liberated most of Wallonia in Belgium and Luxembourg. Canada and the UK Liberated most of Flanders in Belgium, and Canada liberated the majority of the Netherlands.

It is also known by those who read history, that Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary were liberated from the NAZIs by the Soviets.

Lesser known is that Norway mostly Liberated itself, though with some significant UK aid.

Denmark also liberated itself. Both due to the NAZIs simply withdrawing in order to fight in, Germany. This being similar to how Denmark was occupied, the Germans simply rolled in.

That's great and all, but it does not cover every country in Europe that the NAZIs had occupied.

Yugoslavia is probably the most famous country that Liberated itself. Communist partisans fought the puppet government in Croatia, and liberated Yugoslavia. The fact that Yugoslavia liberated itself is one key reason why Yugoslavia was able to be independent from the Soviets during the Cold War.

What I learned only yesterday was the following.

Romania resisted the Soviet invasion to a point, but like Italy, switched sides. In fact, it was King Michael who lead the coup against the NAZI government, and then fought alongside the Soviets, with Romania, against NAZI Germany.
Fun fact: Michael is still alive as of the writing of this post, though he is 95 and has leukemia.

Bulgaria was invaded by the USSR next, and there was no resistance. The Soviets marched into Sofia, and helped a coup, which flipped Bulgaria to the allies.

Albania was liberated nearly completely by itself. Communist militias took over after the Germans withdrew to fight in Germany.

Greece was also mostly Liberated by itself, though the British were quick to move in to prevent a power vacuum. Communist militias held most of the country and this would eventually lead to the Greek Civil War.

So, only yesterday I learned that a lot of european countries had liberated themselves. I pride myself on knowing history and only learning this yesterday I find disturbing. The reality is a lot of this information was a bit hidden and harder to find. The "official story" of the war likes to focus on how the US and UK were the ones who freed most of europe, but in reality, many countries freed themselves as the Germans withdrew to fight in Germany.

Friday, June 9, 2017

UK Projection - 59 errors

591 correct calls, 59 errors.

Reminder; in the Canadian election I had 276 correct calls and 62 errors and was within the top three in the world for seat by seat calls.

I'd love to see how this compares to other projections!