Saturday, January 25, 2020

Electoral Reform - Quebec

So, I was made aware of the Electoral Reform proposal by the CAQ in Quebec, and, decide to post it today.

In the proposed Electoral Reform, the CAQ takes a standard MMP-PR electoral formula, which is V/(S+1) and changes it to V/((S/2)+1)

This may not look like a massive difference, but I want to walk you though some of the impacts.

Lets say, for examples sake, that a party takes 70% of the seats an a particular area, on 40% of the vote. In a standard MMP-PR system, they would end up with a large number of overhang seats, and not elect and "List MPs". However, under the Quebec system, ridings are counted at half-weight (hence the "/2") and, therefore, if they win 40% of the vote and 70% of the seats, they can still win PR list seats.

In fact, this will end up working unless you take two times as many seats - as a share of the total seats - as you've taken votes - as the share of the total votes.

This means that is you've won 40% of the vote, that, so long as you win 80% or less of the seats, you can still elect List MPs.

I've looked at electoral reform before, and these three posts in particular, examine it. But even I have to admit when I've been beat; the CAQ election reform achieves what I'm trying to achieve, but in a better way.

In short, this allows for Majority Governments (precisely because it weights FPTP seats at half-weight) while allowing for opposition parties to be better represented.

It discards my potentially confusing "maximum list" rule, where a party can only run as many candidates as there are FPTP seats, and instead, simply weights things at half-weight, to allow the winning-party to still potentially win FPTP seats.

In effect, it does what I try to do, but better.

As such, I have no choice but to offer it my full endorsement as an Electoral Reform package that can win across Canada...

...except, I have one problem with it.

The CAQ plans to use the 17 Regions of Quebec. Most expect this would see them use the 78 Federal ridings, plus 2 additional ridings for both the Magedlin Islands and Northern Quebec. However; Montreal, federally, has 18 ridings, while the plans that I've seen, have Montreal as a 16 riding area.

Montreal, however, is not the problem. It's all those tiny areas.

Imagine an alternate history where the CAQ, PLQ, and QS, tie at 33% of the vote each. Now imagine that their vote distributions and patterns remain realistic. This means that QS does not win a single seat in many areas, areas where there are only 3 seats total (2 ridings and 1 PR seat). Meanwhile Montreal, where the CAQ will heavily struggle, can easily pick up PR seats given the massive 8 seat lists.

A 17 region province will trend towards electing right-wing and rural parties over left-wing and urban parties. In fact, I suspect these 17 regions were chosen, in large part, because the CAQ's support base is both right-wing and rural. Regions like Abiti, Nord-du-Quebec, Cote-Nord Vas-Saint-Laurent, and Gaspesie-Ile-de-la-Madeline, have 3 seats (combined ridings and PR seats) or less. This means, roughly, a party needs 33% of the vote or more to win a list seat. This obfuscates the proportionality of the system. Compare this with Montreal, with a grand total of 24 seats (16 ridings and 8 list) where one would only need 4% of the vote to win a seat.

Given that it is right-wing and rural votes that have the most to lose in any PR scheme, it may be, that such a scheme is simply the best way to introduce Canadians to voting in Proportional Elections.

Regardless, these plans would hurt the chances of left-wing parties winning government, while, simultaneously, as I outlined in posts considering my proposed system - help those same parties win seats while in Opposition.

I've not yet been able to calculate the impact such a system would have had on the last Quebec election; but it would have been close as to weather or not the CAQ won a Majority or Minority, nad based on current polling, the CAQ would easily win a majority.

If this were applied federally, on a Province=Region basis, we'd still see CPC MP's elected on the list from places like Alberta.

In the end, this does what I want, but in a far better way than I've ever thought of.

Canadians have said, time and time again, in referendum after referendum  that PR scares them. They do not want minority government after minority government, and that they are comfortable in Majorities, even if they be so-called "False" Majorities. Canadians want a system that gives them the option between putting in a Majority and a Minority, and not one that ignores the voting history (IE the fact that very few parties win 50%+1 of the vote)

As such,  I'm willing to give the CAQ proposed electoral reform my "Stamp of Approval, with Reservations" in the hope that they abandon their 17 region approach in favour of another approach that ensures each region, so far as possible, as a minimum of 7 seats.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Updates and thoughts

One thing I could always do on days without anything new, is to share my thoughts on various topics. As such, unless there's news tomorrow that can't wait to Sunday to be covered, I'll almost certainly be posting a thought instead of an update.

As for today however, we have updates, in Israel:

34.75 - Blue and White
31.75 - Likud
15.75 - Orthodox
13.25 - Joint List
9 - United Left
8 - United Right
7.5 - Yisrael Beiteinu

As an appendix for today's update, a small calendar of upcoming elections, that I'm likely to mention, if not fully cover:

26JAN - Italy, subnational, Calabria and Emilia-Romagna
26JAN - Peru, Parliament
08FEB - Ireland, Parliament
09FEB - Azerbaijan, Parliament
21FEB - Iran, Parliament
23FEB - Germany, subnational, Hamburg
29FEB - Slovakia, Parliament
19FEB - Israel, Parliament
29MAR - Micronesia, Chuuk independence referendum
12APR - North Macedonia, Parliament
15APR - South Korea, Parliament
26APR - Chile, Referendum
26APR - Serbia, Parliament
03MAY - Bolivia, General (President and Parliament)
07MAY - UK, England Locals, some areas.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Theory: It was all Harper!

My theory, which got and update, is clearly wrong, and the comment on that theory, seems to have been right; at least the first part.

I thus present a new timeline and a new theory. For this we need to go back to 2003, where I will share a story that I've not really posted in public until now. It's been 17 years, so I'll share what I knew and how I came to know it.

First, I want to let you know what made this click for me. What made me realize Harper was the guy behind it, all of it. It was this video, which was taken down of course. I want to note, however, the real possibility, that this screenshot, is a fake. but we do have a link "VUsKr3Seo9U" though the video was not up for long enough to have been crawled by any websites.

Now, lets go back to 2003. I'm just a nerd who likes politics, and works at Burger King. I'm 18, going on 19. Its September, and the big news is the Canadian Alliance and PC Party are talking about maybe merging, but it seems to be going nowhere. I'm working at BK cleaning tables when I overhear two customers, one of whom says something about "MacKay" and "Merger". This catches my attention and I make eye contact with both of them very briefly as I'm clearly within earshot. It then seems they both judge that some 18 year old burger flipper is no political threat to them, so, they continue to talk unabated.

Sadly, the discussion is not about the upcoming merger. It's about the 2003 PC convention. The bald man is telling his friend about how he was there, and, about some drama.

You see he was a MacKay delegate. And as a (some kind of position in the provincial PC party) he had access to information that normal joe-schmoe delegates did not. The first ballot came in and MacKay had 1080 votes, compared to 640 for David Orchard, who held views far more consistent with the Liberal Party. The two other candidates were Jim Prentice, the pro-merger Candidate, and Scott Brison. Prentice had taken 478 votes, while Brison took 431.

But. Delegates were allowed to change their mind. They'd been elected to back specific candidates, but, no candidate was going to be dropped on the first ballot due to the actions of Craig Chandler, and, they could vote for anyone else on the second. It was widely known that Brison had picked up delegates in the interim. The question was, how many.

You see Brison and Prentice had openly signed a deal to transfer delegates. If one of them is defeated, the other will send over all his delegates. Thus one of two things was going to happen. Either Prentice would beat Brison, Brison would send over his delegates, Prentice would go up against MacKay, Orchard would be defeated, and then Orchard's delegates would lean more MacKay than Prentice (due to Prentice being so pro-merger) and MacKay would win. This is what ended up happening. There was, however, another possibility...

All of this, by the way, are things I already knew just from being a political nerd. What I learned was the following.

Some high ranking people in the MacKay campaign realized that no matter what, MacKay is dropping votes on the 2nd ballot. Thus dropping a few more won't matter as much in terms of 'momentum'. They talked to 7 delegates, and told all 7 to not vote for MacKay on the 2nd ballot, but to vote for Prentice. Two of them apparently decided to vote MacKay anyway. 5, however, voted for Prentice.

On the 2nd ballot, Prentice defeated Brison by a vote of 466 to 463.

The bald man kept mentioning "what was 7, then 5, was 3" when talking about this.

It was about here that they noticed I was clearly listening in, and decided to wrap up their conversation.

What's interesting is what happens if you look at the alternate history.

Brison, unlike Prentice, was not so keen on the merger. Brison also was much more progressive. It is not unreasonable to think that had Prentice thrown his delegates to Brison, that Orchard would have too. Brison then would have become leader of the PC Party.

This means that we almost certainly do not see a merger prior to the 2004 election. Remember that in this election, the only reason the Liberals won a minority despite a massive scandal was that Harper and the newly merged CPC were still 'too scary'. Brison is anything but. Polls had suggested the PC Party had returned to 2nd place, though, only slightly, and was able to beat the Alliance in key areas. Various merger questions in polls also heavily suggested Liberals would have been far more willing to vote PC than the merged party; and, that 2000 PC voters, heavily broke for the Liberal Party in parts of Ontario, Quebec, and Western Canada, instead of voting for the CPC.

A Scott Brison lead PC Party could have won at least a minority in 2004, if not a Majority.

That is why, I estimate, that MacKay and Brison, had such a strong working relationship within the PC Party for the short time MacKay lead it. Brison, this theory says, knew about this 'trick' and felt MacKay 'owed' him. It is because of this that Brison followed MacKay along when the merger happened and voted for the merger... only to cross the floor 4 days later.


This brings us to the crux of my theory.

MacKay, just as he discarded the Orchard deal when he didn't need it anymore, discarded Brison's deal. Why?

He had a new one.

With Stephen Harper.

Now I can't tell you the exact wording, but, it makes sense the deal was something along the lines of "When I'm done being leader, I'll support you to become leader. But you gotta support, or at least, not stand in my way, to becoming leader right now."

Thus MacKay withdrew from the leadership, and Harper becomes the first CPC leader.

So, why did he not run in 2017?

Simply, he wasn't in position. Its likely he and Harper spoke about it, and they agreed that they deal can be extended, and MacKay could simply run at another date.

So the clock ticks on by

Until October 30th, 2019.

Peter MacKay's phone rings. Its Jean Charest. He's running for CPC leader, and wants MacKay's support.

This kicks everything off, as it did in my original theory. I even noted at the time I saw the first news story that MacKay's rejection of this was extreme and forceful. Now we have an idea as to why. It's quite likely MacKay called Harper after this and reminded him of the deal. Harper then told MacKay the deal is still on, and MacKay took some time to think.

Until December 12th, 2019.

Or possibly the night before. Regardless, this theory says MacKay contacted Harper and told him it was on. Harper then started putting everything into motion.

Scheer comes tumbling down. I still think Baird and Poilievre were behind this, acting on information from Harper. The difference here is that Harper had simply put the two of them up to it, rather than this being their masterful scheme.

Everything else then falls into place as previously mentioned.

Charest is out. Ambrose is not running. Poilievre has changed his mind. It's quite likely O'Toole also decided to sit things out, maybe even Rempel too. In fact, if both of them sit this election out, MacKay almost certainly wins on the first ballot. If both decide to run, MacKay will then 'only' take around 40%-45% of the points on the first round.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

updates (Canada, Ireland, Russia, Italy)

General updates; I wanted to note that the commenter on my Jan 4th post, who said Harper was likely the one pulling the strings within the CPC, was, in hindsight, almost certainly 100% correct. It may even be that Harper wanted to get MacKay in as leader, and that almost everything we've seen was to that end.

In Ireland, a new poll is out from Ipsos, which has FF at 25, compared to 23 for FG and 21 for SF. This is a far cry from the massive 12 point lead that B&A had for FF; and, puts doubt in the possibility that FF is running away with the election.

In Russia I'm keeping an eye on polls, but so far, nothing of note is out since the governmental changes. I for one want to see if these changes put Putin's party back where they once were, or, if they stay where they ended up after the pension reforms.

In Italy I've decided on a change on how I report onm polls. I will still mention how well M5S does, for example, but I will now mention natural allies; of which M5S has none. In the single most recent poll, M5S is at 16.1%. PD is at 19.9% but its natural allies are at a combined 7%. Lega meanwhile is at 28.7% but its natural allies are at a combined 18.6%. Reporting poll in this way will go far in simplifying the political system, and only in posts looking in more detail will I break out the individual parties for closer examination.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Updates! (ireland, israel, thoughts on bilingualism, and more)

In Ireland, all the poll shows FF far in the lead. And no, that's not an error, there is just one poll, but it shows FF far out into the lead.

Normally I wouldn't comment on a single poll, and, there's still a chance its that dreaded "20th poll" and that the "other 19 are correct", but comparing polling data from the same company over time, I do not tend to see drastic jumps like this.

Red C polls have, from time to time, jumped around by about 4 points for a single party, and this tends to be single-party jumps, where the other major party does not fly around in random directions.

B&A polls, and, the most recent poll is a B&A poll, tends to have even smaller jumps, of about 3 points.

The most recent B&A poll had FF and FG tied at 27. Assuming a 4 point jump for one party FG could be as low as 23, or, FF as high as 31. Instead, the poll show FG at 20, and FF at 32. This would be 'record setting' if wrong. It should, however, be noted that records can be set, and are set all the time.

My suspicion however is that this reflects a real change, similar to the one we saw when the 2015 Alberta election was called, where the NDP jumped from an average of 18 points, to an average of 30, before winning the election at closer to 40.

If true, this likely means a very strong FF minority, if not an FF majority, pending on how the votes flow in Ireland's preferential ballot STV system.

In Israel we have 4 polls now since the candidate deadline, averaging them, we get the following:

34.5 - Blue and White
31 - Likud
15 - Orthodox Parties
13.5 - Joint List
10 - United Left
8.25 United Right
7.75 - Yisrael Beiteinu
1 - Otzma

55.25 = Pro Bibi
55 = Pro Gantz
61 = Needed for government

Here at home in Canada, I saw a debate this morning about if the Conservatives need a bilingual leader to win seats in Quebec. The answer is "No." with caveats. What they do need is a 'quebec leader' to speak for the party in Quebec. They'd also really need to get that person into the French debate. If they can do these things, then they do not need a leader who speaks French. One way to achieve this is to have an extremely strong Deputy leader, and it sounds like Deltell is trying to position himself to be just that guy, with his commitment to 'contribute differently' vs being sole and full time leader.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Theory update (Conservative Leadership)

As you know, I made a post earlier about a theory I had about the CPC leadership race.

Now that two weeks have passed, a few things are slightly more clear.

Important to my theory - it seems the person who called Peter MacKay and the person who had dirt on Andrew Scheer may not have been the same person.

Poilievre, working with Baird, would be in an excellent position to throw Scheer under the bus. While Charest, who we know has been making phone calls, likely was the one who got MacKay's back up. 

As such, my theory was simply wrong because there was not one, but rather there were two shadowy actors.

Jean Charest is one, so who is the other?

With the information we have now, that is extremely clear: Stephen Harper.

In fact, Harper may have been the one who pulled the plug on Scheer.

To become leader of a party, you tend to need a minimum skeleton of a support network in place. For example, if you wanted to be leader, you'd probably want someone in at least a semi-high level within the party in, for example, Ontario, who you know can be counted on to side with you when you declare your candidacy. This way you have someone that is well known to 'party insiders' in Ontario who can recruit said insiders for you. Those 'insiders' then become your foot soldiers. Selling memberships, knocking on doors when and where appropriate, and so forth. There is a massive difference between getting a phone call from somebody you've never spoken to before in your life and getting one from Dave or Billy with whom you've built a working relationship with over years inside the party. Getting such a network in place does not cost as much in money as it does in time. That is why people who plan to run for leader will often quit whatever job they were doing in order to spend more time getting ready to run for leader.

Charest, until recently at least, has been putting his time in with the law firm McCarthy T├ętrault. Getting Scheer out of the way now, as opposed to later, means Charest has less time to build up a network within the Conservative Party. He has less time to become well known to those Canadians outside Quebec who don't really know who he is. He has less ability to squeeze others out and set himself up as the clear successor.

In fact, I suspect that Peter MacKay had not just one important phone call in all of this, but two. Charest's call clearly made him upset, but MacKay has had a close, though sometimes rocky, relationship with Harper. A call from Harper asking him to run in order to block Charest seems within the realm of possibility.

As for Deltell, who I mentioned in my previous post, he endorsed Erin O'Toole in the last leadership election. O'Toole, who is weak in French, would likely need a strong 2nd in command from Quebec, and Deltell may be hoping this is his ticket in.

Poilievre, then, seems to default to the person whom those in the know (like Harper) seem to be lining up behind. Poilievre is seen by some as being Rude, Petty, and an Asshole. However, all those personality qualities could easily apply to the President of the United States. You may see news articles saying that Poilievre has changed, but the reality is that what voters are willing to accept out of their leaders has changed. Poilievre has not changed.

As such, in the end, all the players may have revealed themselves. As such my only question is what is Candice Bergen up to, as her endorsement may end up being crucial.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Updates on Israel

This is a simple update on my latest post, on Israel.

It seems that minutes before the deadline - and not announced until well after the deadline - that United Right, the coalition of New Right and Tkuma, were able to pry Jewish Home out of their coalition with Otzma. As a result, Jewish Home is now running with New Right and Tkuma in Yamina.

However, I will continue to call this coalition the "United Right" as it contrasts well with the United Left.

Unlike the last election, where Yamina ran explicitly on a deal that would see the party split back into its component parts after the election, Yamina will remain united after the election (though, Israeli coalitions can be unstable, and it may well break apart at a future date)

As such, the update to the most recent poll is as follows:

34 - Blue and White (Gantz)
32 - Likud (Bibi)
16 - Orthodox parties (Multiple)
13 - Joint List (Odeh)
10 - United Left (Peretz)
8 - Yisrael Beiteinu (Leiberman)
7 - United Right (Bennett)
0 - Otzma (Ben-Gvir)

Summarizing, this is as follows:

55 - Right
44 - Left
13 - Arab
8 - 'Centre'