Thursday, November 29, 2018

December Plans:

There is not much in the way of december elections. Georgia (the country) recently held an election and Armenia is holding one shortly; but neither are countries I tend to follow close. At most I may make posts about Armenia, Bangladesh, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but overall, it will be a quiet winter.

I am mulling over some ideas for posts; including one that would show what Canada might look like with a more "Australian" political system. I'm also still keeping track of a situations in a host of countries; in Sweden, the Social Democrats are again trying to form a government. Parliament will hold the 2nd vote on a proposed government on Monday.

Beyond that we are likely into the second half of February before things start up again. Regardless, I am always working towards making interesting posts, and in the "off season" I have a great chance to examine both the past and hypotheticals.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Victorian election

Elections were held today in the Australian state of Victoria. While counting continues, current results are as follows:

55 ALP +8
22 LIB -8
6 NAT -2
2 GRN +-0
3 IND +2

And in the upper house:

19 ALP +5
9 LIB -5
4 DHJP +4
2 TMP +2
1 GRN -4
1 NAT -1
1 SA +1
1 ABP +1
1 LD +1
1 AJP +1
0 SFF -2
0 FPRP -1
0 LDLP -1
0 V1LJ -1

The governing Labor Party will now control 19 of the 40 upper house seats, needing only two more to pass any legislation. The left-wing Greens and Animal Justice Party may well provide these votes when needed.

DHJP and ABP are both very right-wing and populist in a social aspect, while TMP is effectively a lobby group for Taxi drivers who are anti-Uber.

LD is libertarian leaning towards economic capitalism.

SA likes to think of itself as centrist and may vote for policies they like.

Compared to the old council, this one is slightly more friendly towards the government and should be slightly easier to get legislation through.

The lower house, however, was more of a blowout. The result is similar to the 2006 result in some ways, but not as lopsided as the 2002 contest which saw the Liberals reduced to 17.

Key reasons for the Liberal defeat was the trouble in the federal party (which turfed Turnbull and replaced him with Morrison as PM.), not campaigning on the issues that most voters cared about, and the Labor government simply being popular and being considered to have done a 'good job'.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Changes to Welfare and ODSP in Ontario

To start, I'd like to note I've done some math on a reddit; you can see the post here. The post details ODSP changes, and if you scroll down one post, you see the changes to Ontario Works.

For those who don't know, Ontario Work is "Welfare" for Ontario. If you have no job, you can apply for Ontario Works, or OW. It will give a single person $733 a month, split between Rent and Needs. This $733 is an 'estimate' as if you somehow find a place to rent that's cheaper than $390 a month (nearly impossible in Ontario; but not totally impossible, especially in the right city and right circumstances) then you only get support up to your actual rent. The remaining $343 is for all your other basic needs. The rates are uniform across Ontario (for now, bill 60 may change that) and the Toronto rates can be seen here.

ODSP rates are a bit harder to find but are mentioned on pages like this. The basic maximum rate is $1,169 a month; $672 for basic needs and $497 for rent. Again, if your rent is below that, you get the lesser amount. ODSP is the Ontario Disability Support Program. When originally implemented by the Mike Harris government, it was designed to support the so-called 'deserving poor' which is a term used to criticize the system; but using more modern and intentional phrasing, ODSP is supposed to be for those who "can't work", with the implication being those on OW can, but choose not to.

As most of you know, I am on ODSP. These changes will impact me. How exactly is a devil in the details.

The old system saw a $200 exemption a month in income, plus a 50% clawback beyond that. $200 a month works out to $2400 a year. The new system will allow $6000 a year, plus a 75% clawback. $6000 a year works out to $500 a month.

For Ontario Works, they are changing from a $200 exemption and 50% clawback, to a $300 exemption and 75% clawback.

For ODSP the pivot point is roughly $21,800 a year, or, $1,816 a month. For OW the pivot is at $13,000 or $1,083 a month. If you make more than that, you will now have less money under the new system; but if you make less than that, you'll have more under the new system. Note these are combined OW/ODSP+Job figures. They work out to 20 hours of work a week at minimum wage for ODSP, and 7 for OW. As such if you are on welfare and work 12 hours a week, you will have less money after these changes than you do now.

This math has some caveats. I did not, for example, include the $100 a month that ODSP will basically give you for having a job to support additional costs related to employment such as transportation to and from a job. OW's system is different, but under the right circumstances, you could claim up to $250 a month for such costs; though my understanding is very few qualify for that maximum. This means that you can make more money than outlined in my math before the clawbacks hit.

To clarify a few misconceptions that many people have online.

1 - People on ODSP do "pay taxes". Someone on ODSP gets $14,028 a year, and that requires you to pay $333 in federal taxes and $186 in provincial taxes. In reality, this never applies as people on ODSP almost always either rent, or, get less money due to not renting. Renting grants you a tax exemption up to a certain amount, and will always zero out the tax bill for people on ODSP. This credit, for example, is worth $418 to me. Beyond there there are credits for sales taxes. There are, however, always edge cases where you would not qualify for various credits. In the end, because of the various credits however, most people on ODSP without a job pay $0 in income taxes.

2 - Most people on ODSP are honest. The system puts up roadblocks. For example when I reported the $4 I get as income from Patreon to ODSP they outright sounded irritated at me that I'd report so little. They literally told me not to report amounts so low. They also didn't have an answer for *when* I should report such income; when Patreon charges them, when it goes into my account at Patreon, when I transfer it out of my Patreon, when the transfer gets into my Paypal, when I transfer it out of my Paypal, when it gets into my Bank account, when I withdraw it as cash? They had no clue.

3 - It is possible to live on $14K a year. It's just not very fun. At one time I had a full time job where I made $24K a year, and I was always running short on money. That was a decade ago. The Autism gives me ADHD symptoms to the point I take Ritalin daily. The ADHD can make it very difficult to budget due to impulse purchases. The Autism can make it difficult to learn certain "life lessons" that come naturally to others. My brain simply does not work the same way yours does; its broken. It has been a long, hard, grind to get to the point that I can regularly live within my means on ODSP without outside help; but it can be done.


I want to outline what I would do.

I'd do a number of reforms to the system.

First and foremost is near-literally taking people by the hand and leading them to jobs that they can do. "they can do" being key. Not everyone is suited for factory work, or to be a barista at starbucks. When a job is found that can be done, the recipient must be - for lack of a better term - babied into it. small steps. perhaps literally driving them to the interview, making sure they look nice, and so forth. A lot of people on the system have been without work for years and have simply and literally forgotten workplace culture. Ease people back into that.

A huge help towards this would be grants for employers who hire people on social assistance. It would mean there is less of a financial risk in training and hiring someone who is on welfare.

I would also increase the rates. OW would go up to $977 a month, a 33% increase. Both the basic needs and rent portions would increase be 33%, bringing expected rents up to a far more realistic level. ODSP would go up to $1,559, also a 33% increase. Again, the increase would apply both to rent and basic needs; which ironically puts my own ODSP under the maximum as I only pay $535 for rent.

Clawbacks would be 0% for the first $560 a month, 25% for the next $560, 50% for the next $560, and 75% beyond this. This would mean a full time minimum wage job sees you off the system.

I like the idea that those working full time at minimum wage should not get welfare.

Those on ODSP, however, would be able to work full time, 40 hours a week, at a job that pays $18.50 an hour, prior to the clawback zeroing out your ODSP. ODSP would also not stop fully if you reach that limit; instead your drug benefits would be calculated separately and would have a higher income level at which they stop.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is that all these clawbacks would be applied in total only last. This means if someone else in some other program also has some sort of income clawback, that this is taken into account when calculating your clawback for OW and ODSP.

In structure, this is similar to the system the tories just brought in. Harsher at the higher end but nicer at the lower end. The key difference is that the rates are actually high enough to survive on.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Poland has (likely) stabilized into a 2 party state

Just a quick note about Poland.

Some may look at the polling for the next election, polling which shows PiS far in the lead, and assume Poland is a one-party state. To them I'd encourage them to look at polling for the prior election. Beyond this, to also look at polling for the election before that.

This is actually a pattern that is familiar.

Consider that, in Canada, in 1968, the Liberals took 45% of the vote, compared to 31% for the PC Party. 72 saw a split of 38%-35%, and 74 a split of 42%-35%. The PC Party managed to win 1979 despite losing 36%-40%, then lost the 1980 election 32%-44%, but won 1984 50%-28%. 1988 saw their re-election, 43%-32%.

This is the pattern of a two party system.

Local elections show this trend as well. The polish page for such elections (don't worry about the language, we are looking at the numbers and the maps) show the "Liberals" winning 6 regional assemblies VS 9 for the "Conservatives" The total number elected from all assemblies was 254 for the "Conservatives", 194 for the "Liberals" and 94 for all other parties combined.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Situation in Israel

Israel is potentially heading towards early elections. This article gives a bit of a background on that.

The current government is lead by Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu. Member parties are Likud, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas, and UTJ. Yisrael Beiteinu was a member party until recently. Jewish Home is also negotiating to prevent a withdrawal. Such a withdrawal would leave the government with 53 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.

Polls taken this month, averaged, compared to the results in 2015, are below. The current polling average is on the left, and the number on the right indicates gains or losses since the 2015 election.

29 Likud -1
17 Yesh Atid +6
12 Joint List -1
11 Zionist Union -13
11 Jewish Home +3
8 Kulanu -2
7 Yisrael Beiteinu +1
7 UTJ +1
6 Shas -1
6 Meretz +1
6 Orly Levy +6

Should Jewish Home leave the coalition, and should the results be as the polls indicate, this would see the coalition drop from 53 to 50 seats. The two parties that would withdraw from the coalition in such a situation would gain a combined 4 seats, perhaps putting them in the driver seat for any current negotiations.

Orly Levy is a defector from Yisrael Beiteinu who has a more progressive stance on the issues than her former party. If counted on the left of any right-left political divide, the net result of an election would be a loss of one seat for the progressives vs a gain of 1 seat for parties in Netanyahu's 2015 coalition. Most of the change comes from within the various voter blocs, with Zionist Union's losses being offset by gains in Orly Levy and Yesh Atid.

If this comes to pass it would be a disaster for the Labour party. From 1949-1977 the party was consistently first in elections. 1977 saw the party defeated by Likud, but the party would go on to finish either first or second up to the 2009 election.

In 2009 the party obtained only 13 seats, finishing behind Likud, but also Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima. 2013 saw them rise to 3rd behind Yesh Atid, while 2015 saw them form an alliance with Hatunah, a breakaway party from Kadima.

Both 2009 and 2013 saw the party effectively standing on its own. It has never finished worse than second when in an alliance with another party. The current alliance, Zionist Union, is polling very poorly, and could leave the party in 5th.

The party has been on somewhat good terms with Yesh Atid and an alliance with that party may be part of the long-term future of Labour.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

US Update and Maps!

In the Senate, Arizona has gone to the Democrats. Mississippi's senate race has seen consistent polling that when voters choose the Senator on November 27th that the incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith will win. The only poll that suggests otherwise is from the Mike Espy campaign itself. As such I'm marking that down as a GOP win.

This leaves only Florida undecided. Pro-Democratic county, Broward, has managed to, yet again, screw up hosting the election. Due to this it is likely the Republicans will take that seat. If they do the Senate balance will be 53-47. If the Democrats somehow win Florida, it will be 52-48. Both are gains for the Republicans over the current 51-49 balance.

In Georgia the Democratic Governor candidate is pushing for a second round of voting. She is up against the GOP Secretary of State, whose job it is to count the ballots. For there to be a second round the winner needs to take under 50% of the vote; but the Brian Kemp of the GOP is at 50.3%. While there are arguments about ballots yet uncounted, even if there were a second around, a Kemp victory is extremely likely; as such I'm counting this as a GOP win.

In Florida, the GOP again leads, but this time its not clear the screw ups in Broward were enough to tip the scale. Either way my read of the situation is that the GOP has the clear edge here and will manage a victory at the end of the day; as such I'm calling this for the GOP, at least, for now. This puts the final Governor balance at 27-23 in favour of the GOP.

In the House, the same 10 seats remain undeclared. Four favour the Democrats; CA10, NJ3, NY22, and UT4, while 6 favour the Republicans: CA39, CA45, ME2, GA7, NY27, and TX23. Maine's 2nd district, due to not being won by over 50% of the vote, is headed to a second round. Both Independent candidates are more left leaning from what I can gather meaning that it is likely the Democrats pick up this seat.

As such the most likely result, according to my read of the situation, is 232 Democrats and 203 Republicans.

The GOP has lost at least 32 seats in the House; but they did actually managed to 'gain' a few seats. In Minnesota, the GOP gained both districts 8 and 1, but lost both districts 3 and 2. This makes the state's election map appear more logical, as 8 and 1 were highly rural in nature. In Pennsylvania, which had its districts forcibly redrawn by court order, they gained district 14 while losing neighbouring district 17.

Every house seat the GOP has a lead in, including Maine's 2nd, has a GOP incumbent. The same is true for the 4 seats the Democrats currently lead in.

Lastly, maps!

Note the map without a label is the Senate, where Blue means both senators caucus with the Democrats; Purple is one each, and Red is two Republicans.

The last map may be important if the next Presidential election does not result in someone winning 270 electoral votes. The Republicans control the House in terms of number of state delegations (26), and as such, would be in the drivers seat for choosing the next President.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Quick Updates


Democrats: 231 (4)
Republicans: 204 (6)

The numbers in brackets indicate seats where the winner may not yet be clear. They've been included in the total.

Republicans: 53 (fl, ms)
Democrats: 47 (az)

states in brackets are seats that are, again, not fully clear as to the final result.

Republican: 27 (fl, ga)
Democrats: 23

There was some speculation that Pelosi might not win the speaker election. After looking into some recent historical results, if the Democrats match their lest-unified speaker election (2015) then only 87% of their members would vote for the official candidate. This number is below the 204 the Republicans are expected to win. However; the second most messy speaker election saw 89.6% voting with the official candidate; a number higher than the total of Republicans. 


The leader of the Moderates is forming a government, one which will require a vote of confidence. He is looking to rely on unofficial support from the Swedish Democrats; but members of his own alliance are saying they plan to vote against this; which would likely send Sweden to another election. Polls suggest the resulting Parliament would by in large be mostly the same but with slightly different math. The left is up slightly, which could make it easier to form a left-centre government should such an election occur. 


Green support is still growing but may crest soon. The numbers are very bad for the SPD, who sit at 14% in the latest polls. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Canada: A quick prediction

Not much commentary. I stole the basic prediction from QC125 and changed some ridings based on my own personal feelings about how things will go; but this is not a fully fledged mathematical projection from me.

Monday, November 5, 2018

US 2018: House

As this map has smaller districts and may be harder to see, I've included the direct link:

The methodology was simple. For districts that 270towin (which uses Sabato's Crystal Ball) deemed to be not-toss-ups (all but 21) I simply went with what 270towin said would happen. For the 21 that are toss-ups, I went with the "lite" forecast from 538. This gives me a fairly accurate feel for what is likely to happen.

Tomorrow: Canada!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

US 2018: Senate

Just a quick post; and there likely won't be another about the senate before election day on the 6th; my thoughts on how things are going in the Senate:

Note that there are 5 states that are still too close to call; NV, AZ, IN, FL, and MO. Of those the democrats have very narrow leads in 4. This means its more likely the Republicans gain from here (here being 51) and as such, its very unlikely the Democrats win the Senate, even if still very possible.

Tomorrow, I look at the House, where the news is better for the Democrats.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Winter Update

The 'winter' political season is upon us. Once the coming US elections are complete (and yes I'll be doing a post on them) worldwide politics will die down, in terms of news, for the winter season, as usual.

As such this post will contain a plethora of small items.


An update here that I failed in my due diligence by not finding and reporting that the current government was that of the CDU and Greens. Since such a coalition has identical numbers to a CDU-SPD coalition, the things I said on the latter also apply to the former.

Upcoming Elections


This Australian State votes near the end of the month. Polls suggest a Labor victory.

Keeping and Eye on


In my post about the election results last year I posted this image:

Based on an assumption the CDP would vacuum up the supporters of the old Democrat party. This has not happened. The current numbers in the house are as follows:

283 - LDP
29 - NKP
(312 GOV)
58 - CDP
37 - DPP (continuation of KNT-Democrat coalition)
13 - GI (Democrats in neither the DPP or CDP)
12 - JCP
11 - INO
24 - Oth

I still think in the longer term (next year or two) that the Group of Independents (GI) will merge itself into the CDP; but those extra 10 Democrats who stuck with the KNT as the DPP are not likely going anywhere.

What has changed is the upper house. At the time of the election the Democrats held 50 seats. 3 of them went on to sit with KNT.

In the new year, 6 of them left to sit as CDP councillors.

In May, the Democrats finally dissolved in the upper house. 24 joined the DPP and the remainder became Independents. Very shortly thereafter (the next day?) many of those who became Independent joined the CDP, bringing them up to 23. At the time the standings were as follows:   LDP 125,  NKP 25,  DPP 24,  CDP 23.

Finally in october, a DPP member switched to the CDP, making the CDP the largest opposition party in both houses.

In short, as I expected, the CDP would displace the DP as the main opposition party; but this would take a while.


I've been waiting for Putin's United Russia party to rebound in the polls after the drop due to pension reform, but this is not happening. Regardless, the current projection based on the current polls would see the following legislature elected:

285 - United Russia [loss of 58 seats]
80 - Communist Party [gain of 38 seats]
60 - Liberal Democrats (nationalist) [gain of 21 seats]
25 - Just Russia [gain of 2 seats]

Still an easy and decisive victory for Putin's party.

Stable Polls

Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Poland and Australia have all seen fairly stable polls for the last number of weeks and months.

New Brunswick

Lastly, those who follow me on twitter will have seen this tweet about the seating plan in the NB Legislature. Given that the plan is going to change with the new PC government being sworn in, I wonder if this odd set-up between the two smaller parties will continue.