Saturday, August 31, 2019

Austrian elections, shockingly boring.

I want to start by making clear that these elections are likely not boring to those directly impacted, and, those more familiar with austrian politics. To an outside observer, who follows elections in countries with dozens of parties, and in countries that use first past the post; these elections are dreary.

The largest party, OVP, does not have enough support to form a majority coalition with the Greens, or with NEOS. As such any coalition would need to be between OVP and either SPO or FPO. Even SPO and FPO combined don't have a majority. So, why is this so dreary?

First off, OVP and the Greens have very little in common and would almost certainly not form a coalition. As such I'm taking an OVP-Green coalition off the table. I'm also going to remove any three-party coalitions from the available options for various reasons (they are all unrealistic for reasons similar to an OVP-Green one)

So, what is left?


Currently NEOS is polling near 8%, and OVP near 35%. Even a 5 point boost to either party is not enough to solidify a majority.

Meanwhile, OVP+SPO and OVP+FPO remains in majority territory even if both parties in question were to drop 5%.

Add to that the fact that a 5 point move for a party in Austria is unusual and radical, especially over such a short span of time, and you get an election where 'nothing changes'.

Sure, a lot changes, a coalition between a 38% OVP and a 17% SPO is very different than one with a 28% OVP and a 27% SPO; but, again, from the perspective of an outsider who does overviews of elections around the world, they are identical.

As such, I'm finding these elections shockingly boring.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Poland - mergers!

Poland has seen quite a bit of change over the summer and past few years. Parties have tended to merge with one another. Weather this remains the case after the coming elections remains to be seen. Regardless; the main mergers are as follows.

PO and .N have merged into KO, the Civic Coalition. PO was the main opposition party, and took 24% of the vote last time; Donald Tusk is from this party. It is seen as Liberal. The .N party had, at times, polled upwards of 25% during 2016. They will be joined by 3 other parties (one of which is the Greens) in the coming elections. Combined, the parties took 31.7% in the last election.

Our second party is the upgraded PSL. The PSL is an agrarian party that has existed off and on since the days of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, albeit with significant breaks. Even the modern party, founded in 1990, is now right-wing where upon founding the party was left-wing. They are joined by Kukiz, and a few other parties. In the last election they took 13.9% of the vote.

Next is the Left. It is a merger of three left wing parties, none of whom hold seats in Parliament at this time. They took a combined 11.2% of the vote in the last election.

Last is Confederation (Kon), which is the personal vehicle of Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who lead his previous party, KORWiN, into the alliance. He is famous for saying women should earn less than men because they are weaker. They took a combined 4.8% in the last election.

Facing them is the un-merged PiS party, Law and Justice, which remains polling far ahead.

Current polls, (vs previous merged results) are as follows:

41% - PiS - (38%)
27% - KO - (32%)
12% - Left - (11%)
6% - PSL - (14%)
5% - Kon - (5%)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Italy - massive changes

There have been some pretty sudden and massive changes to politics in Italy in the past few days. I will, as usual, summarize them below.

First, the M5S-PD coalition, has, as I suspected, worked. Conte (the existing PM) is now the new PM, leading said coalition. This is still not a deal set in stone; PD has demanded either Conte, or Di Maio (M5S leader) step aside as PM/DPM respectively. With Conte continuing as PM, Di Maio would then need to step down as Deputy Prime Minister. Additionally, M5S is all about the grassroots, and an online vote of members still needs to approve the new government.

The most radical change has been in the polls. I outlined a possible result in my last Italy post, where the League was sitting on 235 seats, and M5S on 125. Current polls suggest a drastic shift, back to how things were before the bottom fell out of M5S. In particular, 15 seats have transferred, so far, putting the balance at 220-140. While that may not seem like much, it means Salvini and Berlusconi no longer have a majority at the polls. Additionally, with a M5S-PD alliance, it now puts Conte at a majority in the polls leading a centre-left coalition.

It seems the boost that the League received in the polls at and after the European elections could not withstand Salvini's grab for power. This also changes Italy's governing coalition from that of a party on the New Left and New Right, to that of a party on the New Left and Old Left. If this were to continue, we'd see one of two things happen; either PD support drain to M5S, or, PD become more like M5S and dominate.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Saxony and Brandenburg

German state elections take place on Sunday in Brandenburg and Saxony. Lets look at Brandenburg first.

Brandenburg is the area around Berlin. It stretches from the borders of Berlin, to areas roughly 60-100 KM out. As such it does include a ring of suburbs of Berlin such as Potsdam, but still has a large rural area.

The state was the first to see a coalition between the SPD and the Left party; the successor to the East-German Communists. Such a coalition has been in power since 2009. Polls suggest the coalition could take around 35% of the vote. This is not enough for a majority. The Greens however are polling around 15%, and, along with the Left and the SPD, could form a left-wing coalition. As the only logical coalition - and a very logical one - it is quite likely that this left-wing coalition is what will happen.

Saxony is the state to the south east of Brandenburg. The results here will quite simply be a mess. Polls suggest the following:

30% CDU
25% AfD
15% Left
11% Green
8% SPD
5% FDP

Due to the threshold, you could form a majority with around 47% of the vote.

Lets start with the logical coalitions:
35% - CDU+FDP (traditional right)
38% - CDU+SPD (grand coalition)
34% - SPD+Left+Green (broad left)

Now the less logical ones:
43% - CDU+SPD+FDP (broad centre)

and the hyper unlikely:
49% - CDU+Greens+SPD

Finally a majority; but this coalition has so many problems as to many it nearly impossible. So what other alternatives are there?


FDP and the Greens have been at odds for quite some time, and even if they were not, replacing the SPD with the FDP puts you at 46%, likely not enough.

What about the AfD? Many parties consider the AfD to be too extreme and right-wing. They can in fact be fairly compared to the DNVP of the 1930's era. Who were the DNVP? Hitler's coalition partner. Hence the concern.

The long-story-short of Saxony is that we will be looking at another election after government formation fails.

That will enable the more unlikely coalitions to be more likely to form as voters would be far less willing to tolerate a 3rd election. In those cases, our "hyper unlikely" coalition becomes much more likely, and, the CDU might give in an form a coalition with the AfD (though, this is much less likely than the aforementioned 'hyper unlikely' coalition)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Israel - 3 weeks + to go

With 3 weeks left of polling - and 5 additional days to polling day - I'm taking a look again at Israel.

Things have changed little, but have had some small changes, since the last update. Current poll averages (displayed as seats expected to be won) are as follows:

31 - Likud
30 - Blue and White
11 - Joint List
11 - Yamina (uber united right)
10 - Yisrael Beiteinu
15 - Shas + UTJ (7 or 8 each)
7 - Democratic Union
5 - Labour

This would give the coalition Bibi tried to form prior to the election 57 seats, short of the 61 they need for a majority. Blue and White however would have difficulty forming a coalition of its own, as adding in the progressive parties only takes them to 42.

What has become more clear, however, is the following.

1 - That Zehut and Otzma Yehudit are both unlikely to meet the threshold, neither party polling at this level in a month.

2 - That none of the 'traditional' left or right coalitions will take a majority.

3 - The only three parties expected to gain any significant number of seats are Yamina, the Democratic Union, and Yisrael Beiteinu.

So, what coalition options are available? Lets look at the numbers and what each party wants:

31 - Likud (wants to be in govt)
30 - Blue and White (no bibi)
11 - Joint List (unlikely to join any coalition*)
11 - Yamina (wants to be in govt)
10 - Yisrael Beiteinu (will not work with Shas/UTJ)
15 - Shas + UTJ (will not work with Yisrael Beiteinu)
7 - Democratic Union (will not work with the right wing)
5 - Labour (wants to be in govt)

*unlikely, but, may offer outside support (IE supply and confidence) to a government willing to bend to their demands; which itself is unlikely.

From this there are a few ways a government could be formed. If Gantz could get Yamina on side, he would only need the religious parties, and Labour, to form a government. Labour could also be persuaded by Bibi to join with him.

Perhaps more likely, while also more unlikely, is a coalition between Blue and White and Likud. Such an arrangement would have to see Bibi removed as Likud's lead. If that were to happen, someone like Moshe Kahlon, former leader of Kulanu, could find himself well positioned to take over the Likud leadership. Kahlon may have known and hoped for this when he dissolved his Kulanu party into Likud earlier this year. The party, however, may choose someone more loyal to the cause to lead them. Regardless, if Likud is willing to ditch Bibi, a coalition of the two largest parties seems the most likely result. Such a coalition would straddle the left-right divide, and could seek parties for issue-by-issue support to ensure a stable majority.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Italy; the how

How Italy avoids an election that, as I previously outlined, would lead to a Salvini Majority, is simple but difficult.

M5S needs to form a coalition with the Democrats. They are looking at it. Given what is at stake for M5S (the first step in it's death) it is very likely they will agree to the coalition (which, while it will not stop their death, will likely lead to a much more managed and stable decline)

The two have a majority when combined, and they likely only failed to form this coalition in 2018 due to the fact that it was the Democrats who had been defeated in that election (and thus, were 'tainted' with unpopularity; difficult for a "time for a change" party like M5S to justify propping up with a coalition)

As I said, this is likely to occur. It will result in the League re-joining their right-wing allies in the opposition, and becoming the largest opposition party. This will be a boon to the right-wing coalition.

For reference, the numbers in parliament are as follows:

216 - M5S
125 - League
111 - Democrats
104 - Berlusconi's party
33 - Nationalist (part of the right-wing alliance)
41 - Others

and possible (very rough estimate) results of an election right now:

235 - League
155 - Democrats
125 - M5S
45 - Nationalists
40 - Berlusconi
30 - Others

Friday, August 9, 2019

Italy; the why


To understand what is going on in Italy, and more importantly, why salvini wants an election so badly, we need to look into the past.

If we look at today, we see the following.

Lega Nord is polling at 38%, up from the 17% they took in the last election; more than double the support.

5 Star is polling at 17%, down from the 33% they took last election, roughly half the support.

The Democrats are polling at 22%, up from the 19% they took in the last election.

And Forza Italia, Berlusconi's party, is polling at 8%, roughly half of the 14% they took in the last election.

Additionally, the Brothers of Italy are polling near 7%, up from the 4% they took in the last election.

Today, we see a LN+M5S government where the vote totals appear to have simply swapped. Today we see two populist parties that have two differing populist views of where to go. Today we may have difficulty of understanding why, therefore, LN would want an election beyond simply 'winning more seats'

The answer actually goes back to how things were prior to the 2018 elections.

The last polls prior to that election suggested the following:

The Governing Democrats were sitting at 21%, while Berlusconi's Forza Italia was at 16%, and their allies, Lega Nord, close behind at 14%. The 'winners' would be M5S, out ahead, at 27%

It can be easy to forget that for years, first between 1994 and 1995, then again starting in 2001, LN has been in an alliance with Berlusconi's party. In fact, and this is key; they are still in that alliance.

This is why.

The next government will not be another LN-M5S government, it would be a LN lead right-wing government. "Berlusconi's Alliance" has become "Salvini's alliance". Salvini has effectively taken it over by making LN more popular than FI.

Polls have been consistent that the right-wing alliance, that is Salvini leading LN with their traditional allies, is polling in majority territory. Another election will not simply "give LN more seats", it will give the old Berlusconi lead alliance a majority; only with Salvini at its helm.

And that, is why Salvini wants an election so badly.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Kashmir; what is going on?

I wanted to give a brief overview of Kashmir, to help readers who may be confused as to what is going on. To that end I've created the following map to help sort out the situation:

Note that some terms are terms I've invented to help simplify discussion such as "North Kashmir" or "Kashmir Proper". Others, such as Ladakh or Azad Kashmir, are terms officially and widely used.

As you can see from the map, no one country controls Kashmir. India and Pakistan have had control over parts of it since the division of the British Raj into India and Pakistan. China has also managed to gain control over sparsely populated areas. While Pakistan recognizes the Chinese annexations, India does not. All three countries have laws requiring that maps produced in the country must show the claimed borders in the area, and not the actual de-facto line of control. I will go over some of these regions:

Azad Kashmir has 4.5 million people, most of whom are descendants of those who settled in the area during the turmoils of the 1940s (population transfers) and forms the core of Pakistani Kashmir.

North Kashmir has a population of roughly 2 million, and serves as an important transportation connection between Pakistan and China for trade. It is the only predominantly Shia part of Pakistan.

Ladakh has roughly 250,000 people who are a mix of Shia Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. Buddhism has strong roots here and plays a role in the local culture.

Jammu has a population of 5.5 million, many of whom are descendants of those who settled in the area during the turmoils of the 1940s (population transfers) and forms the core of Indian Hindu Kashmir.

Kashmir Proper has a population of 7 million and is overwhelmingly Muslim. It is the core of the former Princely State, and is the only area of Kashmir where the Kashmiri language is in the majority.

Lastly are the Chinese controlled areas of the Trans Karakoram Tract in the north, and Aksai Chin in the south. Both have scant details on demographics online, but what little information there is, indicates the majority of those 'living' there are likely stationed there with the military. Any civilian population would be minimal, being a few thousand at absolute most.


What has happened today to cause all of the ruckus?

Up until now, the entire Indian controlled area was part of the "State of Jammu and Kashmir". It was a state with special status protected by Article 370 of the Constitution, which was established in 1954. That article, as of today, has been repealed.

As a result, Ladakh is going to become a Territory, while the remainder, still being called Jammu and Kashmir, also becoming its own territory. Ladakh will not have a legislature, while Jammu and Kashmir will.

As in Canada and Australia, Territories do not have the same protections and rights that Provinces and States do.

As such, the move, to revoke the article, is controversial, and seen as a way to weaken Kashmir and its Muslim inhabitants. The fact that many army units are reportedly moving into the area help reinforce this view.

I will be keeping an eye on the situation, and will provide updates in the coming days.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Joint List - Candidates

I've assembled the top 14 candidates from the Joint List in the Israeli Election. This is the union of the 4 'arab' parties. The list as as follows:

1 עודה איימן (hadash) 
2 שחאדה מטאנס (balad) 
3 טיבי אחמד (taal) 
4 עבאס מנסור (raam) 
5 תומא-סולימאן עאידה (hadash) 
6 טאהא ווליד (balad) 
7 כסיף עופר (hadash) 
8 יזבק היבא (balad) 
9 סעדי אוסאמה (taal) 
10 ג'בארין יוסף (hadash) 
11 אלחירימי סעיד (raam) 
12 עסאקלה ג'אבר (hadash) 
13 אבו שחאדה סאמי (raam) 
14 סאלח סונדוס (taal)
Currently, Hadash holds 4 seats, while the other three parties each hold 2. Balad was the last hold out on negotiations, and, it looks like they managed a win, as, they have 3, not 2, in the top 10 (currently, the 4 arab parties hold 10 seats) The distribution of the top 11 is as follows:

Hadash - 4
Balad - 3
Raam - 2
Taal - 2

The final Raam seat is the most vulnerable (being seat 11) and in return, they are given seat 13. 13 is the number of seats the Joint List won when they last ran united. That would result in the following:

Hadash - 5
Balad - 3
Raam - 3
Taal - 2

Taal, of course, then gets the 14th seat. It is unlikely the party could take 15, and, if polls say this is now possible, I will expand my search into who is who; made more difficult by the fact that the candidates list is only available in hebrew (the arab and english website versions not having the list up yet) and the candidates themselves, having predominantly arab names, don't always have ideal translations into hebrew. Couple this with limited information on some people, and while it only took me 30 minutes to figure out who was who and which party they were from, those were painful minutes.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Update, and Nanos

A general update follows, but first, lets deal with Nanos.

They've recently shut off their polls to public access. $48 a year will get you access to all of their polls, affordable even for me, but, and here is the kicker - you are not allowed to tell anybody about what you see.

I try to be reasoned here on the blog as, through patreon, and in addition to disability payments, this is how I "make my living". This is where I "work"

Despite that, let me be utterly blunt about this. Paywalling your base poll content is taking information away from voters. You are making democracy worse. You are pushing politics, and Canada, away from a free country, by locking the information that voters may need to make an informed decision away from them.

There is significant evidence that this has been done explicitly to stop me and people like me from making election projections using these poll numbers. The objective, however, is not to hurt me. It is to hurt you. You, my reader. The objective is to keep this information from you. It is to stop you from knowing about this. To stop you from hearing what I think about it. To stop you from learning.

I don't take kindly to such attacks on my readers, even if there are only a few dozen of you, you are my readers and it is my duty to protect you from such nonsense to the best of my ability.

For this, and other reasons I've previously discussed, I am not going to be doing a projection for this federal election. Nanos now joins Ipsos in its attack on people looking for election projections. With the canadian polling industry as small as it is, we are reaching a tipping point where, if not in the next election then surely before the one after that, these issues will 'explode'

I am going to continue to use my 100% no-math approach to making projections until that happens and we get a final ruling (from a real judge) on these issues; and the polling companies and projectionists settle into whatever the new reality happens to be. At that point and only at that point will I re-examine using mathematical projections. As such, the most recent Alberta election will remain my last projection using said math, and given how wrong it was, this is no tragedy.


on to other news

In Israel, Kulanu, as I thought may happen, fully merged into Likud; Kulanu thus no longer exists.

Austrian polls have stabilized around: OVP 37 // SPO 22 // FPO 19 // GRN 11 // NEOS 8

Manitoba, which has not had a poll in over a month, still looks set to re-elect the Tories.

Despite a coming October election, I still don't cover NWT elections on the grounds that I focus on traditional partisan parliamentary systems and NWT is not one of those.

Portugal has seen polls move this summer but the left parties still maintain a solid lead.

Swiss elections in October are likely to not change much.

Polish elections in November likely won't change much of significance either.

And Canadian elections will probably result in a minority of some sort.