Thursday, March 30, 2017

Alberta Projections

Trying something new; a link to an imgur gallery containing projection maps for Alberta.
This is presuming a united merged right lead by Jason Kenney, and the best and worst such a party could do against the NDP.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

28MAR2017 - updates (NI and personal)

Northern Ireland's deadline for forming a government has passed. Theoretically this means a new election, but the powers that be (in particular, the 5 parties and 2 governments - Ireland and Britain) are not keen on one, as such, there will be roughly a month or so of extended negotiations.

There are three main sticking points.

The first is language. SF wants protection for the Irish language. The DUP wants any protection also extended to Ulster Scots, and does not want any unique protections for Irish.

Second is legacy issues; many unionists feel that current programs looking at murders during the troubles focus too heavily on the actions of soldiers, and not heavily enough on the actions of the PIRA. SF feels the current process is properly balanced.

The final issue is that of RHI and weather Foster needs to step aside; however due to the inability to get past the first two issues, this issue has not been in the forefront recently.

As I outlined here, negotiations will take time. After watching things I have a few new suspicions on ways things can go, all based on changes to the GFA.

1 - "Permission"
This would be a change that would allow the DUP to sit outside of government, but, offer 'permission' for an executive to be formed. The simplest way to achieve this is for them to agree to a system where they can vote against an executive, but it still is able to take power. The current GFA clearly states the largest unionist party need to agree on an executive; that means the DUP. A new agreement could simply use the current 30 seat 'veto' barrier (for a cross-community vote) become the maximum size of opposition to an executive. Since the DUP only has 28 seats, such a system would allow a new executive to be formed without support of the DUP, but with their unofficial permission.

2 - "Balanced Majority"
This is similar to the above but would go one step further and allow SF to be excluded as well. It's important to note this would require another election. However, should such an election provide a result where the UUP, SDLP, and APNI hold a combined majority (right now they only hold 30 of 90 seats) the system could be changed to allow for this grouping to form the basis of a new government. This would require each party to win roughly 6 additional seats, or, have strong support from parties like the Greens and PBP. However, given the problems the DUP and SF have with negotiations, this becomes a possibility if the math allows after the next election.

3 - "Decapitation"
This would see an assembly (the one just elected) sit, but not form an executive (government) This would be a strange set of affairs, but, technically existed for a week prior to the election. It would allow for a body of elected representatives within NI to express their collective will on various legislation and bills while having official and executive powers exercised by the United Kingdom (likely in consultations with the Republic of Ireland) Should negotiations continue to fail over the long term, this may become a more palatable option. The danger is that should this option be chosen, it could become the 'new normal'

On a more personal level

One problem I have with consistent activity on the blog is that despite the fact I am basically going over things that have happened or will happen, writing is still, at its core, a creative activity. There are periods where I feel creative and periods where I do not and that's likely to continue into the future. The only way to combat that is to have a blog with multiple people writing for it so that the absence of any one particular permission does not go missed, however, this has a number of problems as these people can have clashing styles and ideals as to what an acceptable standard is for a blogpost.

In the past week my problems have been health related. I've always had bad teeth but I had a flare up of a tooth infection. Very painful; despite being on the maximum recommended dosage of Tylenol 3 (codeine) 2 pills of 30mg each, the pain was nearly unbearable. Fortunately, as I was on antibiotics, there came a moment when I literally felt the pain drain away, and it stayed that way. However; this made me realize I need to stop delaying dental care, and as such, have two new holes in my head where teeth used to be. Part of the problem is that these are only 2 of the 6 teeth that need major work done and/or removal.

Add to that the fact that these sorts of things give me immense amounts of anxiety - to the point that I will be speaking with my doctor about a prescription for it when I need see her.

The whole process has been unpleasant and will continue to be so; but in the end I have no one to blame but myself for taking poor care of my health.

Despite only having the teeth in question removed 14 hours ago, I felt like writing. Hopefully this will spark a new period of regular writing for me.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interesting things from Twitter last night

So there were some rather interesting things posted to twitter last night. In case you missed it with all the talk about Michael Chong, I am speaking about this thread

I've been able to boil some of this down into simplistic rules of thumb that apply to the situation for the past few years.

For every 5 dollars the Federal government raises in revenue per capita, provincial governments raise 6, and municipal governments raise 2.

However, there is a massive amount of transfers. Mostly Federal to Provincial, and Provincial to Municipal. As such.

For every 4 dollars the Federal government spends of it's own money (outside of transfers to other levels of government) Provinces spend 7 (outside of transfers to other levels) and municipalities spend 3.

This means that Provinces get slightly more (from the feds) than they give (to municipalities) and that municipalities raise less than half of what they spend.

Assuming only "direct" transfers to the next level down (IE Fed to Prov, Prov to Muni) [This is not the case, there are always bizarre cases where, for example, a municipality might transfer money to the federal government for unexpected reasons] This implies Provinces get roughly 20% of all their money from the Federal Government, and, as such (by implication) are 20% beholden to the Feds. Municipalities, meanwhile, are 60% beholden to the provincial governments.

While the numbers have grown further apart, my old 'rule of thumb' still holds true; that the sum total raised by the Provinces (before transfers) and the Federal government is the same, while Municipalities only raise half this amount.

Disclaimer: this is based totally on the numbers in the thread, and not a personal examination of budgets by myself.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Martin McGuinness has died

I've spoken about him before in a past blog post.

Also an update; I'm still quite busy, and today in particular am facing some minor health issues. I'll try to return to more regular posting as soon as possible.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Netherlands Results

Dutch media is suggesting the coalition I proposed earlier is very likely to take office.

33 - VVD - Conservative
19 - CDA - Christian Democrat
19 - D66 - Liberal

This gives the coalition 71 seats, short of the 76 needed for a majority; however, minority governments have happened before.

The main opposition parties are as follows:

20 - PVV - Nativist
14 - SP - Socialist
14 - GL - Green Left

It's been speculated the Green Left would be willing to join the new coalition. I don't fully understand the nuance; but it's been widely reported in the dutch media that this is the most likely way the coalition would reach a majority.

Other parties:

9 - PvdA - Labour
5 - CU - Social Conservative
5 - PvdD - Environment+Animal
4 - 50+ - Pensioner
3 - SGP - Christian Right

Labour is the largest loser in this, falling to 9 from 38 seats.

As well two new parties join Parliament:

3 - DENK - Social Democratic, and Multicultural, Pro-immigration
2 - FvD - Populistic, Nativistic, Eurosceptic, and Conservative

Feel free to compare this to my prediction. Despite the fact I placed VVD far higher than polls suggested, they managed to outperform even that.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

BC polling still off the mark.

A bit of a "breaking" story; but in short; 

from my tweet thread

You know what you can't find easily in most BC polls? how people voted in 2013. Why? Cause they know these numbers are fishy.

If they showed you, they'd say 40% voted NDP in 2013 (they did) but only 34% voted Liberal. (it was 44%)

What this tells me is a very very simple fact; a LOT of people who voted Liberal last time are not answering polls

This was the key stat that told me the early Ontario and Quebec polls were wrong; but not the later (and correct) ones

And this is the key stat that showed me after the fact that both Alberta and BC were wrong in 2012/2013

It's been purposely hidden it seems because the BC pollsters likely know their numbers are way way off. Libs have ~10 additional pts

From a chat room


I just did some math

that shows the BC polls are ******* ********

this happened in 2013. and in alberta in 2012 with pc. I noticed it after the fact
it also happened in early polls with the liberals in ontario and quebec

it also happened in early polls with the liberals in ontario and quebec

Q: what are the amounts for other parties?

well as shown above, a poll that says the topline is 34L-40N-14G-10C should actually read 45L-41N-8G-6C
same with 36L-40N-14G-8C should read 45L-41N-8G-5C

Q: why?

WHY they don't answer? no ******* clue. but at least I've found a way to determine WHO is not answering.

TLDR: BC Polls are just as far off as they were last time, if not more so.

More to come in future posts.

The NDP's biggest long term problem: Left in the wrong way

The NDP is Left in the wrong way.

It wasn't until reading this great article in the Toronto Star that I was finally able to put to words the reason the NDP has charged headlong into failure so many times at so many levels. The NDP is Left in the wrong way.

To quote the article
Mulcair was heading into an Edmonton convention after expressing an open mind on ...(being)... anti-oil sands...

There are a number of positions on issues that horrify mainstream voters. Not simply that they oppose the idea, but that they very strongly oppose the idea. The NDP has a history of taking these ideas up and running with them. While many mainstream voters are willing to bend on Pipelines, those who are not are going to be concentrated in the resource-rich provinces of Western Canada.

There are a few other ideas the NDP has had, past and present, that strike this same horror into the minds of voters. They include but are not limited to...

  • Withdrawing from NATO
  • Withdrawing from NORAD
  • Opposition to a Jewish State in the Middle East
  • Nationalization of Industry
  • Repeal of NAFTA

As you can see, while some of these issues can be classified as economic, or foreign affairs related, all 5 have a similar theme in common of 'culture'

The NDP is culturally left. Not just socially left and economically left. This is the key difference between the NDP and the Liberals, and the key reason why the NDP fails when it fails.

Economic ideas like a basic income, helping the working class, and taxing the 1% are all popular with Canadians and could easily win elections. Social ideas like entrenching Trans rights, Refugees, and Immigration are also places the NDP can easily win.

The problem comes when you get into cultural issues; issues that rely on the worldview of the voter. while most voters do want to do something about climate change, it is not a top priority - most people are more worried about if their Trans child will get beat up today, or if they'll be able to put enough food on the table that evening. The NDP's position on climate change is not problematic, their focus on it is. The NDP has reached a point where they make more noise about climate change than the Green party does. Indigenous rights is another similar issue, most Canadians do think something needs to be done, but have their priorities elsewhere.

Governments campaign and govern in different ways. An NDP government that focuses on climate change and indigenous rights is not something that will turn off voters; an NDP campaign that focuses on these things, will.

It gets worse.

The NDP opposes pipelines, something that most Canadians understand is the safest way to transport oil. The NDP consistently supports public sector unions; in particular ones whose workers provide support to the most needy. People who make $25,000 a year are not going to take your side when you argue the people providing their services shouldn't make $75,000 a year, they should make $85,000 a year; no matter how hard you try to tell them that this is to their benefit. Some NDP parties have even pushed hard for herbicides over pesticides, and debated policy that would see the latter banned outright; farmers like to use what is cheap and effective and don't like others telling them how to do their jobs, no matter how much you tell them the environment will be better off for it.

It gets even worse.

Take a look at the NDP's own policy documents.

Almost all of these issues, and related issues, are in section 1, or the upper half of section 2. Fighting poverty is section 3.4

Seniors is 3.7
Refugees is 4.4
Ethics is 5.8
Trans Rights is 6.3

The NDP's problem is they have everything backwards. Rather than going out every day and saying that people need economic help in these hard times; that Trans people need protection; that Refugees need our help - they are going out every day and saying that the Climate is changing; they are going out every day and saying that Native peoples need help; they are going out every day saying that Proportional Representation needs to happen.

I think you'll find that while a good 70% of Canadians, if not more, think all 6 of these thing either need to happen, or, they wouldn't mind if they did happen, you'll also find that within that 70%, a good 80% think the first 3 need to happen before the second 3.

Trudeau won because he was Left in the proper way. Mulcair was Left in the wrong way. The things you say, and the order you say them in, matter. If you are talking to someone about serious issues, you are generally going to pick the things most important to you to discuss first. The NDP's problem is these things are all issues Canadians just frankly don't care that much about. Sure they want them to happen, sure they support them, but they are other, bigger issues that need to be faced in the here and now.

The NDP has not failed because they are Left.
They've failed because they are Left in the wrong way.

Dutch Elections

Elections are tomorrow; my predictions are as follows:

26 - VVD (Conservative)
22 - CDA (Christian Democrat)
20 - PVV (Nativist)
19 - GL (Green Left)
18 - D66 (Liberal)
15 - SP (Socialist)
10 - PvdA (Labour)
5 - CU (Social Conservative)
5 - PvdD (Pro Animal / Environmentalist)
5 - 50+ (Pensioner) 
3 - SGP (Christian Right)
2 - Others (Including Pirate Party)

A coalition between VVD, CDA, and D66 is what I've been expecting for some time now. If this prediction comes true, they would have a strong minority; and, with the help of PvdA, a majority. 

However, if, as I've previously said (#3) I've am also trying to correct for the number of racial-minded voters. As such, here is a prediction with that in mind:

25 - PVV (Nativist)
24 - VVD (Conservative)
20 - CDA (Christian Democrat)
19 - GL (Green Left)
17 - D66 (Liberal)
15 - SP (Socialist)
10 - PvdA (Labour)
5 - CU (Social Conservative)
5 - PvdD (Pro Animal / Environmentalist)
5 - 50+ (Pensioner) 
3 - SGP (Christian Right)
2 - Others (Including Pirate Party)

This would weaken my expected coalition, but still not allow PVV to form a coalition of its own as there are enough other parties at strong enough levels to prevent it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Western Australia Election

An apology; I've been quite busy as of late.

Western Australia's election was held today.
As expected, Labor gained a majority of seats

Monday, March 6, 2017

Netherlands Update

Next week the Netherlands goes to the polls. I wanted to do a quick update of changes that have occurred.

Both the Nativist party, and Pensioner party leaders have gotten themselves in trouble with the courts. Both the parties have suffered as a result. The Nativists have dropped from 18.7% to 17.1%, while the Pensioners have dropped from 6.3% to 4.1%. This is, as always, based on poll averages. The remaining parties are stable, gaining or losing less than 0.3%, however, three parties have gained more than this; the three parties I've suspected for some time will form the next government.

The Conservatives hare up to 16.9% from 16.0%
The Liberals now sit at 11.2% from 10.7%
And the Christian Democrats are at 12.2% from 11.3%

This would give the potential coalition 40.3%, compared to 57.3% for the other parties combined. Minority governments have happened before in the Netherlands, however it would only take Labour staying in the government to  give this grouping a majority. Additionally, the momentum is with this grouping, and even the best polls can be off by a point or two per party; meaning it is possible this potential coalition could obtain their own majority.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Northern Ireland - Results

The first news is that with only 28 seats, the DUP, even with the support of the TUV's Jim Allister, can't use the PoC; the 30 vote effective veto that each community (nationalist/unionist) has over legislation. The translation of this is that gay marriage could be coming to Northern Ireland.

As you can see, compared to past elections, this one had very high turnout. Additionally, there are a few important things to note.

First, as with 2016, 2011, and so on, this election was really 3 concurrent elections.

First, the Unionist election.

In this, the UUP failed just about as hard as it is to fail. While the party did make gains on the DUP, the reality is that fighting a party so scandal prone, the UUP should have taken 3 votes for every 2 they obtained. The UUP has been on a downward trend, and continues on said trend, and frankly, may well find itself dead in a decade or two. Remember that the UUP was "the" party of Northern Ireland for many decades. It may simply be the party has too much baggage and history. Unless things turn around (and frankly, they blew this, their best opportunity so far to do so) the UUP will vanish and be replaced within the Unionist electorate by another Unionist party.

The TUV meanwhile actually lost votes. This despite the strong 'drain the swamp' message (both Belfast and Washington DC were built on former swamplands) and despite being a clear and strong anti-nationalist alternative for the scandal ridden DUP. Allister, again, remains the only elected MLA and when he decides to resign, it is likely his party will go with him.

The DUP comes out as the winner of this, but only just. While they did generally maintain their massive lead, taking roughly 2/3rds of the unionist vote, they also fared very poorly compared to the nationalist and other vote. The big problem is they became transfer toxic. 28 seats is below the threshold for petition of concern, and only just ahead of SF.

The Nationalist election was more joyful.

The SDLP, while they fell behind, losing ground to Sinn Fein, managed to effectively gain seats. 12 seats in a 90 MLA assembly is a gain on 12 in a 108 MLA assembly. It is no secret the SDLP benefited from UUP transfers. This is also the first time the SDLP won more seats than the UUP. What is important is that unionist voters now have experience transferring to the SDLP. Even with a push against it, it is likely the SDLP will remain a final ballot spot for many of these voters seeking to block SF.

PBP, not officially a nationalist party (but still enjoying the support and transfers of a subset of nationalist voters) also lost some support, dropping to 1 MLA.

SF is one of the big winners of this election. Their push to become the #1 party, while it failed to achieve their goal, certainly built momentum behind the party. Additionally, the entire Nationalist electorate did amazingly well, losing only 2 seats, compared to 16 for Unionist parties. This puts SF in the driver's seat for the negotiations that will be coming over the next few weeks and months.

The Others also gained

The Alliance and Greens both managed to hold on to their seats, and non-sectarian parties in general did well. Naomi Long in particular had a very strong showing in East Belfast, electing a second MLA in the seat. The party also did fairly well in South Down, important as the current Alliance is very much a Belfast centered party, winning all of their seats inside or beside Belfast. Expanding outside this area is an important step in growing the party.

Interestingly, this would give the DUP and SF 3 executive (cabinet) seats, and both SDLP and the UUP 1. However, due to the way these seats are calculated, should either the SDLP or UUP withdraw and remain in opposition, the Alliance would then qualify for a seat. Should both withdraw but the Alliance not, the DUP would qualify for 4, and should all 3 remain in opposition, the DUP and SF would both qualify for 4. The latter scenario could present problems as any desire to keep Sugden as Justice Minister would mean someone (either the DUP or SF) would have to donate a seat, and unlike last time when the balance was 5-3, giving up a seat this time means giving up a majority on the executive.

That all assumes this assembly will function. I personally have strong doubts. This is a re-aligning election, as was the 2003 election. In 2003, the lead party in both electorates changed, while in 2017 what we've seen is that "Unionism" is no longer the mainstream default option for voters, who are more likely to cast a first preference for Others and Nationalists, and are more willing to transfer to both these groups.

My current thinking is that this assembly will never sit. Negotiations will likely take most of the year, and we will likely see another election within 2 years.

3 years 3 elections; 50% chance of happening
This would see NI return to the polls at around this time next year after the 5 major parties have come to an agreement on how to proceed.

2019 election; 25% chance of happening
This would see the next assembly election take place at the same time as local elections in NI. This is most likely to happen if negotiations are not fully complete, but all 5 parties agree they are far enough along that an election is useful and helpful.

Delayed Assembly; 15% chance of happening
This would see the current assembly sit, but not within the current timeframe set out in the GFA for such a thing to happen. This could happen if, in 6 months time, the parties come to an agreement and also agree to use the assembly elected in this election.

Breakthrough; 10% chance of happening
This would see a government in place by the end of April, and the newly elected assembly sitting without interruption.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Northern Ireland - 1st preferences

28.08% DUP
27.93% SF
12.81% UUP
11.95% SDLP
9.06% APNI

Tentative numbers suggest the current government has been returned; however, SF and the DUP mat not wish to return.

Northern Ireland - 13 of 18 counts

This is based on 1st preference results.

Northern Ireland, counting

Belfast West first preference results are in. It looks like SF will take 3 seats, and PBP 1. The final seat will come down to a race between SF, SDLP, and DUP. SDLP will be the most transfer friendly, but DUP has a 600 vote head start; while SF is above both by 1400 votes, but will need to split its preferences to win the 3 seats; my gut says SDLP will squeak in.

Belfast South appears set to elect SF, SDLP, APNI, DUP. The final seat is going to be a race between DUP, Green, and UUP. If the DUP is as transfer unfriendly as I think they are, the Greens and UUP have the edge.

Strangford won't be returning Jonathan Bell, bar some miracle on transfers. DUP, DUP, APNI, UUP seem confirmed; final seat will come down between UUP and SDLP with UUP having the edge.

North Down actually saw 3 candidates pass the threshold already, and another just behind. The 5th candidate is also close enough that things are pretty much done here. DUP, DUP, UUP, APNI, GRN

East Antrim has spread it's vite. DUP, UUP, APNI, DUP seem guaranteed. SF and UUP likely to fight over the final seat, I'd give the edge to UUP.

South Antrim may show poor vote management; SF, UUP, and APNI seem headed for a seat, while DUP will likely take the final two, there's a chance the SDLP could steal one.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Northern Ireland - Thoughts on Predictions

My earlier prediction, in short, still stands.

I am fairly confidant I have the DUP-UUP balance correct, however, the SF-SDLP balance is much trickier. 23-11 may end up being more realistic at the end of the day.

As well, a great deal of this depends on how well the parties manage their vote. It's quite possible to gain or lose a seat unexpectedly because you failed to manage the vote well, with the DUP running so many candidates, they could suffer from this, and as such, win even fewer seats than expected.

In most places I was able to discern 4 slots that parties should win. The final slot, however, was almost always up for grabs between two parties. In some cases, a 5th slot was clear, but this only happened in North Down, and Newry. 

As such it is possible for some parties to win more or less than otherwise shown. the PBP could end up with only a single seat, and the Greens could take 3.