Friday, January 31, 2020

Brexit Day - thoughts

A short post. I had planned something much, much longer, but my ability to be in the right place mentally for writing comes in waves, and I'm in a bit of a writing funk right now. (With that in mind, on the next upswell, I'll try to write two posts a day, but only release one, so I have a large backlog)

Anyway, today is the day the UK legally leaves the EU. While it's negotiated an agreement that for the next 11 months, a lot of things will not change, it is utterly crucial to note that the UK, legally, will be out of the EU for that entire time.

Prior to this, and prior to the Brexit deal passing Parliament, the UK was legally 'stuck'. It had legally announced it was going to leave, but had no way to do so.

The UK effectively was trapped. Parliament wanted it to leave, but gave it no ability to leave. The EU had (and still has) no ability to remove a country in that situation.

This is miles away form the new situation. The UK now simply has a deal with the EU, a deal either side can rip up.

Countries break deals all the time. Germany had a deal with Belgium in 1914 that it would consider Belgium a neutral country, yet sent its troops in. The only thing that the other side could do, beyond war, which in this case, is not going to happen, is international arbitration. In such a case, the party that broke the treaty would clearly lose, but, any such 'court' has no ability to literally turn back time and force a party to comply. Compare this with the situation the UK was in prior to the brexit agreement, where the force holding them back was not some toothless international commission, but, argubally, the Constitution of Britain itself.

Once the clock strikes midnight in Brussels, the UK is effectively 'free'. It could decide, likely with penalties, to break any transition period treaty, and leave all EU institutions. Or, it could extend the transition period forever, effectively 'staying in the EU'. It is similar to when your contract for your Cell Phone or Apartment Rental runs out and both you and the people you are contracting from agree to continue on a 'month to month basis'. A UK deciding to extend the transition period forever is far different from one 'stuck' in the EU, just as you being on a month-to-month agreement with a cell phone provider for 3 years is far different than you being in a contract for 3 years.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

28JAN2020 thoughts

Considering personal/life things today. Have some political thoughts to share:

I looked into elections in French Polynesia as it has one "big island" where most people live. I actually did a little write up on the results, looking at if "big island" votes differently from the rest of the Islands, but I'll simply let you know, the answer is "no"

I've looked at this "deal of the century" map, the peace proposal for Israel-Palestine. In short, the map simply looks a lot like what the current facts-on-the-ground are, with some areas currently administered by Israel going to Palestine. It seems more likely Bibi drafted most of this plan, and Trump's only contribution was "lets build tunnels!" I am working towards putting the proposed map on Google Maps for everyone to view.

I don't think I'm going to get useful Irish election projections in time for anything useful.

Polls in Russia seem to have no changed; so I really don't think any of the new changes are going to matter in terms of changing the polls.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Italian Regional Elections

You may have heard that the left in italy has defeated the right in the Emilia-Romagna region; one of the more left-wing areas of the country. The left alliance took 51.42% of the vote, compared to 43.63% for the right. Within the left, PD took 34.69% of the vote region-wide, while within the right, Lega took 31.95%. The left will have a majority of 28-18-2 in the assembly, with M5S making up the final 2 seats.

Interestingly, the Hard Nationalist party, FdI, took 8.59% of the vote compared to 2.56% of the vote for Berlusconi's party.

All of this, however, means little. A break in a regional streak does not end that streak. Look at the list of Premiers of BC to see that in action; one NDP blip in the 70's did not mean the SoCred streak of governance would end before the 90s.

What is important to note, thus, is the results in Calabria.

The right alliance won here with 55.29% of the vote and 19 seats compared to 30.14% and 10 seats for the left. M5S' alliance took 7.35% of the vote, but, will be seatless. The leading left party is PD, with 15.19% of the vote.

What really matters is the breakdown of the right-wing vote. The right-wing coalition here had 6 members. One is simply the "Presidents Party" so called because it was created and exists solely to give seats and votes to the Presidential (IE Premier) candidate. Both Left and Right alliances in both regions had such parties. Another member is the House of Freedoms, which, at least at the national level, dissolved in 2008. It was Berlusconi's party. Another member of the Liberal Centrists, which is a Socially Conservative party that's moderate on fiscal issues.

These were the three lowest performing parties in the right-wing alliance. House of Freedoms took 6.39% of the vote, the Centrists took 6.84%, and the President's party took 8.45% of the vote; all taking 2 seats each.

This is important, as this kind of vote splitting within an alliance is stronger here, and with this alliance, than with other alliances and in other places. More important is the top three.

The Hard Nationalist party, FdI managed to take 10.85% of the vote and 4 seats. Lega, lead by Salvini, took 12.25% and 4 seats. Forza Italia, the current party of Berlusconi, was the best finisher in the list, taking 5 seats on 12.34% of the vote.

Breaking things down by party:

15.19% - Progressives
12.34% - Berlusconi
12.25% - Salvini/Lega
10.84% - Hard Nationalist
6.25% - M5S

This implies three things:

1 - That Lega, formerly Lega Nord, does indeed have appeal here in the Southern tip of mainland Italy.

2 - That Lega has yet to break through in the south the way it has in other parts of the country, and still needs support from coalition partners to win here.

3 - That the unity of the right-wing alliance is going to matter, a lot, as Lega won't be able to win the next national election on their own, but will need support from Berlusconi's party, and the Hard Nationalists, to achieve a majority.

Lastly, the results themselves, carry a 4th implication:

Salvini will win the next national election, and, in alliance, become Prime Minister of Italy.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Example of Quebec using CAQ Electoral Reform

I've taken the results of the 2018 as applied to Federal Ridings (done by Kyle on twitter) and from this, I've made my own regions (10) and applied the CAQ proposed electoral formula, and determined a result; which is as follows:

The result is a Minority for the CAQ; 57 seats, compared to 32 for the PLQ, 17 for QS, and 16 for the PQ.

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'

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Israel - Parties form coalitions

Lets start with the most recent poll and work our way out from there:

34 - Blue and White
32 - Likud
16 - Orthodox parties
13 - Joint List
10 - United Left
8 - Yisrael Beiteinu
7 - United Right
0 - Jewish Home

Blue and White, as you likely already know, is a coalition of Benny Gantz's Resilience party, along with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid. Joining them is Moshe Ya'alon's Telem party. All are roughly centrist or Liberal in mindset. The party was united 11 months ago, and is fighting its third election as a united force.

Likud itself was once coalition as well; however, the parties that formed that coalition in 1973 united into a single party in 1988. The party is right-wing and nationalist in nature.

The Orthodox parties are not a coalition. Rather, it is a simple way for me to present the data by combining the two independent Orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ. Shas is not a coalition, and was formed as a breakaway part of Agudat Yisrael; while UTJ is made up of Agudat Yisrael, and Degel HaTorah. The parties support Orthodox and Religious viewpoints.

Joint List is a joint slate of candidates from the largest arab parties, each of which is a sort of coalition onto itself. The 4 parties are Ta'al, UAL, Balad, and Hadash; the latter containing the Communist Party of Israel. The party is generally both left and pro-arab.

United Left is a coalition between Labor-Gesher and Democratic Union. Labor-Gesher is a coalition between Labor and Gesher, while Democratic Union. is a coalition between Meretz, Democratic Choice and the Israeli Democratic Party, It should be noted the Israeli Democratic Party contains former Prime Minister Ehud Barak as its leader, but that he and his party are seemingly not part of this coalition. The party is left wing and progressive in nature.

Yisrael Beiteinu is hard to define, but could be described by what it opposes: arab parties, orthodox parties, and netanyahu. It has thus positioned itself in the centre, while remaining a right-wing party. It is still associated with the russian immigrant community, upon which it was founded.

The United Right is a union of the New Right and Tkuma. It is Nationalist to Far Right in nature, and strongly supportive of religious Zionism, with some strong secularist elements. It is perhaps the closest to the various neo-nationalist parties and candidates elsewhere in the world. (Bernier, Trump, Le Pen)

Jewish Home, or more accurately, United Jewish Home, is a union between Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit. It is considered far right and heavily religiously Zionist in nature. Otzma in particular is seem as extremist and is considered by many to support anti-arab terrorism.

These 8 "coalitions" is how I plan to approach the Israeli election now that candidate lists have been finalized.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ireland to vote, Feb 8th

Ireland is going to the polls on the 8th of February. Polls suggest a close race between the Centrist-Conservative Fine Gael, and the Liberal Fianna Fail. The two are both between 25%-30%, and either could win the election.

Fine Gael, which roughly translates into English as "Irish Tribe/Family", currently leads the Government. Fianna Fail, sometimes called the Republicans, translates as "Soldiers/Warriors of Destiny". I will be simply calling them FG and FF in the rest of this post.

FF and FG both claim to come from Sinn Fein. On December 14th, 1918, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland held general elections. The results, mostly, are not important. What matters is the results in Ireland. Of the 105 seats in Ireland (of the 707 across the UK) Sinn Fein won 73. 22 were won by Irish Unionists, 6 by the Irish Parliamentary Party, 3 by Labour Unionist candidates, and 1 by Independent Unionist, Mr Woods.

Two of the Irish Unionist MPs, as well as Mr Woods, represented a University seat in Dublin. One of the Irish Parliamentary candidates represented the city of Waterford, and one, part of Donegal. The other 70 seats in the "south" of Ireland, were all represented by Sinn Fein. In the "north" Sinn Fein won only 3 seats, with the Irish Parliamentary Party winning 4, Labour Unionists 3, and the remaining 20 seats won by Irish Unionists. All MPs from Sinn Fein refused to sit in the Commons; while all non-SF MPs would choose to sit in the Commons.

The SF MPs instead decided to form the first Dail Eireann; the Assembly of Ireland. This was a revolutionary act, as they had no legal authority to do so; however, they persisted, and history marks this as the 1st Dail, and considers the 1918 UK elections, within Ireland, as the 1st Irish election.

One interesting thing to note is that the boundary separating Northern Ireland from Ireland - that is, which counties would and would not be included in each - was, in part, decided by the results of these elections; however, it is important to note, that the elections themselves were decided, in large part, by the existing demographics.

That boundary would be set by the Government of Ireland act, 1920. This came after the Irish War of Independence, which could best be described as running skirmishes between the brutal tactics of the militarized police and roving bands of armed republicans, though some larger engagements were fought. Importantly in our context as an election blog, the local elections in 1920 in Ireland played a key role. SF managed to win a majority in each of the councils in what would become Ireland, save for Galway and Waterford, where SF only won a plurality, backed by other nationalist parties. The act called for elections to two new bodies, the House of Commons of Northern Ireland; which would, over time, evolve into what we call Stormont, and the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, which would never sit. Instead, the 1921 elections to that body would result in the 2nd Dail, which, just like the first, was made up only of SF members. Interestingly, not a single ballot was cast in the election, with every seat being won by acclimation; 124 for SF and 4 for Unionists at the University.

This is when the Anglo-Irish treaty would be signed. It is that treaty which would split Sinn Fein. The treaty would see Ireland become a Dominion, like Canada, and have a Governor General. As well, it would split the Island of Ireland, creating Northern Ireland and the Ireland we know today. The treaty would be passed by the 2nd Dail by a margin of 64 to 57. This would result in the Irish Civil War.

The Irish Civil War would be more bloody than the Irish War for Independence. During this period, elections for the 3rd Dail were held, with SF members supporting the treaty winning 58 seats, compared to 36 for those opposed. The Labour party would win 17, the Farmers party 7, and 10 others would be elected as well. In the end, the Pro-Treaty forces would win the civil war. They would name their party Cumann na nGaedheal (Society of the Gaels) while anti-treaty opponents would simply be known as Republicans, and stuck to the Sinn Fein label.

In 1926, Eamon de Valera, who had been perhaps the foremost leader in Ireland during all of this, but was a treaty opponent, tried, but failed, to convince his Sinn Fein party to agree to participate in the 1927 elections and resulting Dail. As a result, he started his own party, Fianna Fail, to context the elections.

In 1932, the Farmers Party merged into the National Centre Party. That party itself would merge with the larger Cumann na nGaedheal to form Fine Gael.

So, these two parties, FG, and FF, were literally trying to kill one another in a civil war a little under 100 years ago. It thus came as a bit of a shock when the two came to a governing agreement in 2016. FG, which had won the elections, would form the government. FF, however, agreed to abstain on certain confidence issues, allowing the FG government to take office.

The two parties have never had policies that diverge terribly with one another, both being highly centrist, and both evolving with the times and with the Irish electorate.

Going back to our historical narrative, Sinn Fein then spent a period of time in the political wilderness. By the late 1960s, the party was dominated by armed militants and marxists; and a major split occurred, spinning off many marxist members to what later became the Workers Party. In 1983, Gerry Adams became leader of SF, and in 1986, the party voted to take their seats, if elected to them, in the Dail; which itself caused another split.

SF would participate in the 1987 elections in Ireland, but failed to win any seats (it should be noted that the Workers Party won 4 seats in that election). They would also run in 1989, and 1992, before finally winning a seat in the Dail in 1997. They managed 5 seats in 2002, 14 in 2011, and 23 in the last elections in 2016.

Currently, FG has 47 seats, FF has 45, and SF has 22. As such, 114 of the 158 seats in the Dail are held by parties that trace their heritage back to the original Sinn Fein and the 1918 election. Polls put these parties on a combined 74 seats, and each of them is polling slightly higher than their 2016 result, though, not by much.

Our next post in the Ireland series will look at the parties that do not directly trace their heritage from 1918 Sinn Fein, such as Labour, the Green Party, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, and Aontu.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Taiwanese elections.

Results of the Taiwan election are in!

57.1% - DPP - 8,170,231 - Tsai Ing-wen and Lai Ching-te (William)
38.6% - KMT - 5,522,119 - Han Kuo-yu and Chang San-cheng
4.3% - PFP - 608,590 - James Soong (Chu-yu) and Sandra Yu
163,631 invalid ballots cast
4,846,534 abstentions (voters who stayed home)

Geographically, the KMT won only 6 counties. They lost Hsinchu city, but won the two counties that surround it, by 47.45%-46.88% and 50.32%-45.02% respectively. Their larger victories came in the two east coast counties, and the two counties making up the islands part of the Republic of China that are not on the Island of Taiwan itself. Their largest victory, with 77% of the vote, comes from Kinmen Island, located just 10KM away from Xiamen, a major port city in mainland China. It should be noted that if "Red China" were to ever make moves towards Taiwan, annexing these two counties would likely be the first step. (It should be noted that taking these islands does not indicate Taiwan will be annexed shortly there after; there could be decades between the two events)

61 - DPP (Democratic Progressive Party - Progressive - Light Sovereigntist)
38 - KMT (Kuomintang [Nationalist Party] - Conservative - Light Reunification)
5 - TPP (Peoples First Party - Center Right - Light Reunification)
3 - NPP (New Power Party - Left Populist - Sovereigntist)
1 - TSP (Taiwan Statebuilding Party - Liberal - Separatist)
1 - NPSU (Non-Partisan Solidarity Union - Centrist - Pro-Aboriginal)
4 - Various Independents

Sovereigntist is used in this context to represent to way the DPP has operated. The party has not simply declared Taiwan independent, nor do they seem to wish to do so in such a radical and harsh manner. They, instead, want to slowly build Taiwan into an independent country, and, quite likely, if they ever were to declare independence, would only do so after consultation with the people (IE, a referendum)

Separatist is thus a party that seems far more radical on the issue; one that might actually declare outright independence if they had a majority - though, with only one MP representing this viewpoint, it remains to be seen where things will go should these members gain in popularity.

Light indicates that the party generally supports the status quo, and is looking to 'tap the dials' and move towards their ideal slowly.

Reunification does not mean submission to "Red China" (that'd be Unionism in this context) but rather to re-unify China as a single, free, multi-party, democratic, and capitalist country.

Geographically, there are some differences. The east coast here was won by DPP, while KMT did well in the interior, and won Hsinchu city, as well as parts of Taipei.

Note that the NPSU member was elected as an Independent, but sits with the NPSU.

Much of the seat change comes from the List and not the individual 'ridings'. Though there were some swaps - where the KMT would take a DPP seat in an area, but the DPP took a KMT seat nearby - most of the KMT gains / DPP losses come from the proportional list

In the end, DPP has been re-elected to a second term both in the Presidency and the Legislature, though with the message that the President is more popular than the Legislature.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Stormont is back!! and other news

Saving the best for last, lets start with Iran, which admitted it did indeed accidentally shoot down the plane. Supposedly the missile hit under the cockpit, which is where most of the flight controls and connections are; hence it makes sense that it would vanish from flight tracking websites (as this would turn off the transponder) and why the plane continued what it was doing (making a right turn) after being hit.

As expected, Tsai has won the election in Taiwan, with 57% of the vote, compared to 39% for Han. In the legislature, the DPP appears down to 61 seats with the KMT is up to 38. I will offer full coverage tomorrow, due to all the other news today.

In France, the government is attempting to find a compromise on the pension/retirement age. I'll be doing a more full post on issues like this one, where the 'popular' demand is one that is horrible for nearly everyone in the long term and on a large scale.

Sultan Qaboos has died. He ruled Oman since he overthrew his father in the 70s. Qaboos was widely considered a political master, and it remains to be seen if his successor, his cousin, can remain both popular and an absolute monarch, as Qaboos was. Chances are, he can not, meaning either reform is coming, or an overthrow is on the cards.

Related to the first story I posted here, Canada is reacting to news of the shoot down. One issue is that in 2012, under Harper, Canada cut off relations with Iran. It is thus unlikely that this will end well for families of the Canadians killed in the crash. I will likely address this in a larger post I'm planning at the same time I address the "sometimes popular things are unpopular" I hinted at in the 3rd story (France)

As if today wasn't busy enough in the news, the Wexit party has registered with Elections Canada.

Another warning to ignore misleading news like this story. Western countries have stopped flying, but the majority of companies who flew over Iran, still fly over Iran. It is simply 'fake news' to claim that most other airlines had stopped flights.

Lastly, and most excitedly, Stormont is back! The Stormont assembly, which is the devolved Parliament for Northern Ireland, has returned after the 5 major parties have come to an agreement in its future. It is unclear exactly what is in the deal, but it appears both the Irish Language and Ulster Scots, will be looked at seriously, while there will be coming reforms to the "petition of concern" which has been used as a veto by parties over issues that it was never designed for.

Current standings in the Assembly is as follows:

27 - DUP
26 - SF
12 - SDLP
10 - UUP
8 - APNI
83 - participating in the executive
2 - Green
1 - TUV
1 - PBP
2 - Independent
1 - Speaker

Attending meetings of the new Executive will be as follows:

Arlene Foster (DUP) - First Minister
Michelle O'Neill (SF) - Deputy First Minister
Edwin Poots (DUP) - Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
Deirdre Hargey (SF) - Communities
Diane Dodds (DUP) - Economy
Peter Weir (DUP) - Education
Conor Murphy (SF) - Finance
Robin Swann (UUP) - Health
Nichola Mallon (SDLP) - Infrastructure
Naomi Long (APNI) - Justice
Gordon Lyons (DUP) - Jr Minister to First Minister
Declan Kearney (SF) - Jr Minister to deputy First Minister

Interestingly, this will be a gender balanced cabinet (6 female, 6 male) with the 10 cabinet positions seeing a 6-4 split, more women than men, and all three of the top positions (First Minister, deputy First Minister, and Justice minister) held by women.

Because it took years to get this government together, the next election is still scheduled for just 2 years away in May of 2022.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Quick note on daily posts

While I will be striving to make a post every day, I want to be clear there's no guarantee there will be one every single day. That being said, there are things to cover for today:

As of the time of this post, it is about 6am in Taiwan on election day. There are no new polls I have access to, so I have no update on that.

In Italy, M5S appears to be having internal troubles, having suspended a senator, and some say the party might split. The 4 main right parties, which are allies, have 48.5% of the vote according to the most recent poll while the 4 main government parties have 39.8%; this would almost certainly result in a majority for the right-wing coalition; though it should be noted Italy is still some distance from an election.

In Israel there continues to be very slight movement away from Likud; but it is likely not enough to cause a major change in the math for the next round of coalition negotiations.

Lastly, there's been an election in Sint Maarten; which is part of the Netherlands, and shares an island with the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin, on the island of Saint Martin, east of Puerto Rico. It seems in September the United Democrats government collapsed, lead to a new one being formed by the National Alliance. the National Alliance, lead by Silveria Jacobs, now has 6 seats, a gain of 1, and is the largest in the Estates. The United Democrats, lead by Sarah Wescot-Williams, were reduced from 7 seats to 1 seat. Third is the United Peoples Party, lead by Rolando Brison. Both the United St. Maarten Party, lead by Frans Richardson, and the Party for Progress, lead by Melissa Gumbs, have taken 2 seats.

Personality seems to matter for a lot here. The United Peoples Party is lead by a former United St. Maarten Party member of Parliament, while one of its members is Luc Mercelina, a former United Democrat member.

I'm not quite sure what any of this means; but thought it would be interesting to look at an election in a place I don't normally look.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Did Iran intentionally shoot down flight PS752?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If you read my post from yesterday, you'll notice that having planes crash is a possible part of cyber warfare. So I want to look at if Iran downed this jet.

First; what does this gain them? Crashing a US owned plane over US territory carrying US citizens using cyber warfare is far different from crashing a Ukrainian owned plane over Iranian territory carrying Canadian citizens. Doing this to cause a distraction is a terribly wasteful way to cause a distraction, it is not only in efficient, but, if you check news websites, you'll notice that the attacks are still in the news, and so, if it is a distraction, it's not worked. It is illogical to thus assume that this was intentionally in this way.

So; what if instead it was a missile? Well that is a bit more interesting, but being intentional leads to the same problem as above. What if, however, it was an accident? If you go to this link in google maps you can see the power plant in Parand. You'll notice you can see the shadow of an aircraft. This both provides a pro and a con for the argument that it was an accident. The pro, is that at a time of tension, an aircraft flying over a sensitive site could be mistaken for a threat. The con is that the power plant lines up with the nearby runway, and dozens if not hundreds of flights thus overfly the plant every day; why would this one thus be shot down?

So while I'm not ready to declare it impossible that it wasn't an accident, I'm still thiking its far more likely to have been some kind of mechanical incident.

Here is a list from wikipedia of such incidents. This incident in particular comes to mind. When the engine exploded, the blades of the engine flew off and riddled parts of the plane with what looked like bullet holes. Additionally the explosion of an engine can look a lot like a bomb going off.

My conclusion is that this was most likely an engine failure; followed by a unlikely but possible accidental shoot down.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Cyber Warfare

With the recent crisis with Iran I thought I'd do a quick primer on Cyber Warfare.

I don't know if anyone recalls these events
I made a post about it.

This is what Cyber Warfare could look like. Instead of an accident, you simply hack in and re-program the system so the new "proper" pressure level is far, far too high.

In the UK in 2004 a programming problem caused both over and underpayments, in addition to simple problems with various cases, and ended up maxing out at $7 Billion in uncollected payments. This was caused by an accident and poor programming, accidents can be caused on purpose.

A direct attack on a larger pipeline can have consequences.

Airports can be sent into chaos.

Simple viruses and worms can be released.

Companies can be induced to lose hundreds of millions.

you can even cause other kinds of accidents.

Major blackouts.

Attacks on the Water network.

The Phone Network can be taken offline.

Airplanes can crash.

Beyond this you can simply use your imagination to think of different ways to use computers to make bad things happen. Theoretically you could...

Use false readings to make a nuclear plant blow itself up

Use false signals to make trains crash in to one another

Use false announcements to make people run the wrong way in a fire/disaster

Use false data to make hospitals kill instead of save people


I'm not here to cause panic.

People who work for the companies that are responsible for this stuff know all of this. They secure their systems, as, more often, the attacker is not another nation, but some bored hacker looking to make some money. More and more places before more and more secure. Some of these, like re-programming an airplane or releasing a virus, have major problems to their being used (Airplanes don't tend to be re-programmed easier, and viruses could hit you)

Instead I'm simply here to help you understand what a cyber attack could look like.

With any luck, there will not be any nation-to-nation cyber warfare any time soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

general updates - January 7th 2020 (mostly spain)

Spain has a new government. With a vote of 167-165, with 18 abstentions, the new left wing coalition has been approved in the legislature.

The new coalition is primarily made up of PSOE and UP, also known as the Socialists and Podemos.

The new government will have 155 members (120 PSOE and 35 UP) and will be the first coalition in Spain since its transition to democracy. They are short of the 176 needed for a majority, however. UP seems to have lost all of their seats in the upper house, but PSOE has 111 (133 needed for a majority). The three main opposition parties (PP, C's and Vox) will have a combined 151 in the house and 108 in the senate.

Supporting the new government will be PNV, MP, NCa, BNG, and TE.
These are, in order, the Basque Nationalists (centrist and regionalist), Mas Pais (progressive), New Canaries (centre left and regionalist), the Galician Nationalist Bloc (socialist and regionalist), and Teruel Exists (regionalist) which calls for fair treatment for the province of Teruel

Opposing the new government will be JxCat, CCa, UPN, and FAC, as well as the PRC, and CUP.
these are, in order, Together for Catalonia (centrist and regionalist), Canarian Coalition (conservative and regionalist), the Navarrese People's Union (conservative and regionalist), the Asturial Forum (conservative and regionalist), as well as the Regionalist Party of Cantabria (progressive and regionalist), and Popular Unity Candidacy [Catalonia] (socialist and regionalist)

In the middle are the ERC and EH Bildu. The ERC, or Republican Left of Catalonia is left-wing and regionalist, while EH Bildu, or Basque Country Unite, is also left-wing and regionalist.

In sum this splits the house as follows:

155 - Government
12 - Support of government
18 - Issue by Issue support
185 - SUBTOTAL (majority)

151 - Main opposition (3 parties)
12 - Other Right-wing
3 - Other opposition
18 - Issue by Issue support
186 - SUBTOTAL (majority)

In the Senate, things are a bit different, as, only 208 members are directly elected; the other 57 are selected by the provinces. the sums are as follows:

119 - Government
12 - Support of government
15 - Issue by Issue support
144 - SUBTOTAL (majority)

109 - Main opposition (3 parties)
8 - Other Right-wing
2 - Other opposition
15 - Issue by Issue support
134 - SUBTOTAL (majority)

Interestingly, the ERC alone ends up being the kingmaker in all scenarios. If EH Bildu votes with the opposition on any particular issue, neither the government nor the opposition then has a majority in either chamber; the ERC ends up with the swing votes.

It is thus interesting that the ERC leader is current in Prison for his role in the Catalan independence declaration. He had been elected to the European Parliament, yet was found guilty, and thus on December 19th of 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that he should be released as MEP's have parliamentary immunity from being charged with political crimes.

How this all plays out remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, there is simply not much to update on. I decided to make a basic mathematical projection for a German election however, this was the result:

180 - CDU/CSU
135 - Grn
90 - AfD
84 - SPD
58 - FDP
51 - Lnk

This result would likely lead to a CDU-Green coalition, even if only because the current CDU-SPD coalition would lack a majority.

Many other countries have yet to return to regular polling after the winter break, and those that have, like Israel, have confusing polling as the candidate submission deadline has yet passed and pollsters try to guess at the final coalition negotiations that have yet to take form.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Coming Taiwan Election

Many may not know that the US does not maintain "official" relations with Taiwan, only "de facto" relations. This stems from the Taiwan Relations Act.

One should also note that Chiang Kai-shek, President of Taiwan, died in 1975 before the elections in that year, and that Yen Chia-kan, his Vice President, took over. His term ended in 1978 when Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Chiang Kai-shek, was elected President by the national assembly.

Thus, the 1969, and 1972 elections were held under Chiang Kai-shek, while the 1975 elections were held under Yen Chia-kan. The elections in 1980 would be held under Chiang Ching-kuo, and would elect 97 members.

During these elections, the Kuomintang (KMT) and their allies retained their crushing majority in the Legislative Yuan. For the first time however, 6 members were elected from the opposition. All officially independent (as only pro-government parties were allowed) this group, known as the Tangwai.

In 1983, 98 seats were up for election. Of them, Tangwai won 6.

In 1986, with 100 seats up for election, Tangwai won 12. By this point, Tangwai had formed a political party; despite such an action being illegal. The government, however, did not act, and as such, it would be more accurate to say that the party they formed, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 12 seats. The DPP like Tangwai, were, and still are, opposed to reunification with China. They see Taiwan as a unique entity, compared to the KMT which wished to re-unify China under a non-communist system, and still views Taiwan as the Republic of China.

This is where I should mention that Taiwan did indeed have Presidential elections. They were held in the National Assembly (a different body from the Legislative Yuan). In 1948, Chiang Kai-shek won with 2,430 votes compared to 269 for his party-mate, Ju Zheng, a token opponent who ran to prevent acclimation. 1954 would see Chiang defeat Socialist Hsu Fu-lin, likely running for similar reasons, by a margin of 1507 to 48, with 20 invalid ballots. The margins would remain; 1960 saw Chiang win 1481 votes compared to 95 invalid ballots, 1966 saw 1405 vs 83 invalid ballots, and 1972 saw 1308 vs 66 invalid ballots. His son would win with 1184 vs 64 invalid ballots in 1978.

1984, however, would mark an unexpected but important year. While Chiang winning 1012 to 52 was not notable, what was notable, was who he chose as his Vice President. Lee Teng-hui. Lee had been the Governor of Taiwan (I've still yet to fully wrap my mind around how Taiwan operated during this period, but it seemed to effectively operate as a nation with only one province) and when Chiang won the Presidency, Lee won the Vice Presidency.

As such, when Chiang died in 1988, Lee became President.

With the ban on opposition parties lifted in 1987, the 1989 elections were the first to officially be contested by a truly multi-party slate of options. With 130 members up for election, the KMT directly won 94 seats, with 1 additional seat going to an allied party. 14 Independents were elected with various loyalties, but importantly, 21 members of the DPP were elected. This meant the party now passed the 20 seat barrier for status, and as such, could propose legislation.

In 1990 Taiwan had what was not known at the time, but what in hindsight was a very important Presidential election. Lee ran for re-election and won, 641 votes to 27 invalid ballots.

You should notice the number of votes being cast is decreasing. This is because all of these people originally elected in 1948 were getting older, and starting to pass away.

For this and other reasons, with the conclusion of the Presidential elections, Lee started moving to democratize Taiwan. He ended the effective state of emergency known as the "Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion" and began to propose democratic amendments to the Constitution. By the end of 1991, every member who had been elected in 1948 had either died or resigned, leaving only the 130 members elected in 1989 in the Legislature. These two factors combined to lead 1992 to be considered the first truly democratic elections in Taiwan. Results were as follows:

95 - KMT - 53%
51 - DPP - 31%
15 - all others

This would be followed in 1995 by another round of elections for the legislature.

85 - KMT - 46%
54 - DPP - 33%
21 - NP - 13% (pro re-unification)
4 - all others

Lee himself would be up for election in 1996 in the first direct vote for President.

1996 prez
Lee Teng-hui - KMT - 54%
Frank Hsieh - DPP - 21%
Lin Yang-kang - IND - 15% (pro reunification)
Chen Li-an IND - 10% (pro reunification?)

This would be followed by an additional Legislative election

123 - KMT - 46%
70 - DPP - 30%
11 - NP - 8%
21 - all others

It wouldn't be until Lee's retirement, when he did not run for re-election in 2000, that the KMT would start to see losses.

2000 prez
Chen Shui-bian - DPP 39%
James Soong - IND - 37% (Peoples First)
Lien Chan - KMT - 23%

The DPP won its first election with Chen Shui-bian becoming President. James Soong, a former KMT member, ran as an Independent, and is widely seen as having split the "blue" vote; Blue being the party colour of KMT, compared to Green, the colour of the DPP. There were fears at the time Chen would declare independence, or that China would invade as a result; however neither of these happened. In the 2001 legislative elections, the DPP split in the pan-blue vote could continue

87 - DPP - 37% (pan-green)
68 - KMT - 31% (pan-blue)
46 - PFP - 20% (pan-blue)
13 - TSU - 9% (pan-green)
1 - NP - 3% - (pan-blue)
10 - all others
115 blue vs 100 green vs 10 others

The result was that while the DPP won the most seats, the pro-blue parties retained control over the legislature. In the run up to the 2004 election, Lien Chan, who had been VP under Lee, agreed to run with James Soong, leader of the PFP, as his Vice Presidential Candidate. The day before the election, Chen and Vice President Lu were shot. More details can be found here. Both Chen and Lu were fine after some hospital care. The results of the election were as follows:

2004 prez
Chen Shui-bian - DPP 50.1%
Lien Chan - KMT - 49.9% (James Soong as veep)

Given how close the election was, and the shooting, this caused quite a bit of controversy. Later in the year, the Legislature was elected as well:

89 - DPP - 38% (pan-green)
79 - KMT - 35% (pan-blue)
34 - PFP - 15% (pan-blue)
12 - TSU - 8% (pan-green)
7 - other pan-blue
4 - all others
120 blue vs 101 green vs 4 others

Again, the pan-blue coalition held a majority.

The shooting and controversy lead to some thought about how elections were handled in Taiwan, in particular the idea of recounts, and this may have ended up leading to an amendment to the constitution in 2005. The amendment would need to be passed by a National Assembly, and so, one was elected. Pan-blue parties won 45.9% of the vote, while Pan-green parties won 49.6%. That would not matter, however, as both the DPP and KMT supported the proposed amendments. This lead to a 249-51 majority for those supporting the changes.

The amendments would change the legislative electoral system, halve the size of the Legislature, change legislature election timetables to match the presidential elections, abolish the national assembly and have amendments decided by referendum, and changing impeachment procedures from the assembly to the courts.

As a result, Taiwan gained a new electoral system, similar to the one that I often propose. 73 members are elected by first-past-the-post in single member districts, while 34 additional members are elected on a parallel ballot, each voter casts two ballots, one for their seat, and one for the party list, with list seat being distributed based on the proportion of list ballots received.

By 2008, the KMT had become the more popular and dominant force in Taiwan. 

Ma Ying-jeou - KMT - 58%
Frank Hsieh - DPP - 42%

81 - KMT - 51% (includes co-endorsements)
27 - DPP - 37%
5 - all others

While this was a radical change, it could have been seen coming, as there had been widespread protests about President Chen's perceived corruption scandals. In 2012 the KMT repeated their performance, winning both the Presidency and the Legislature

Ma Ying-jeou - KMT - 51.6%
Tsai Ing-wen - DPP - 45.6%
James Soong - PFP - 2.8%

64 - KMT - 45%
40 - DPP - 35%
9 - all others

However, just as protests helped sink the DPP, they would sink the KMT. In 2014, protesters occupied the legislature, protesting what they saw as a trade treaty that would give the PRC (AKA 'red china' / the 'beijing government') too much sway over Taiwan. In fact, the KMT candidate had to be replaced after she made announcements that were perceived as being too pro china.

Tsai Ing-wen - DPP - 56.1%
Eric Chu - KMT - 31.0%
James Soong - PFP - 12.8%

68 - DPP - 44%
35 - KMT - 31%
10 - all others

The DPP not only took back the Presidency, but for the first time won control over the Legislature.

This takes us to the current day

On the 11th of this month, Taiwan will elect its President and Parliament. Polls suggest the DPP incumbent will easily be re-elected.

Polls suggest that Tsai will be re-elected with 50% of the vote, compared to 20% for Han, the KMT candidate, and 10% for James Soong. Having looked at how well the polls did in 2016 and 2012, the polls, with those numbers, tell me the following is possible:

60% - Tsai - DPP
30% - Han - KMT
10% - Soong - PFP

Looking at the legislature, and doing a similar judgement of polls, as well as quick estimates as to how that would impact the seats won, I've determined the following as somewhat likely:

60 - DPP
40 - KMT
13 - all others

This would lave the DPP in control of the chamber.

What is interesting is that polls suggest that the election was going to be competitive, with the KMT having a lead. When things started to change happens to line up with events in Hong Kong.

The KMT is seen as the "pro-china" party, while DPP is seen as "anti-china" and with "anti-china" sentiment en vogue due to grotesque human rights abuses in China, the DPP has reaped the rewards.

While Tsai's re-election is thus now seen as a given, the Legislative results are not so clear. TPP the Taiwan Peoples Party has emerged as a possible 'third force' outside of either the blue or green camps. They are only polling at around 10%, but Taiwanese polls don't take out undecided voters, and poll numbers for parties in Taiwan, like in Japan, have a tendency to suddenly jump or sink on election day; as such it is possible, though not likely, that TPP could do very well.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A bit on the English Revolution

I'm working on a post about the Taiwan elections - its more than half done, all the basic research is complete and all the organization of the data is finished. All I need to do is to string all the various numbers together with words so that I'm not simply presenting a poorly explained list of numbers to you.

While gathering this data, however, it occurred to me that it would take quite a lot of time and space to properly explain one particular aspect of Taiwanese history, and that just saying "Recruiter Election" or "Election via Co-Option" might only serve to confuse and might not carry the weight intended. As such, I'm going to take today to tell you all about part of the English Revolution.

Queen Elizabeth I of England died in 1603, and King James VI of Scotland thus became King James I of England through inheritance. This is the King James of Bible fame, as he sponsored the translation of the Bible that is most common in the English speaking world today. When he died in 1625, Charles I became King. Charles would butt heads with Parliament, with Charles strongly believing in the divine right of kings, and Parliament wanting to stop Charles' excesses. This would lead to him ruling for over a decade without calling a Parliament; eventually this was unsustainable (as only Parliament could levy taxes) so he called one in 1640 to help deal with the fallout from the Bishops war, a rebellion/civil war in/with Scotland.

The first thing Parliament did was tell Charles to knock off all the nonsense. Charles did not take well to this. Various things happened (this is not a history blog, so I'm skipping quite a bit here) and Charles suspected (properly rightly) that some MPs had been colluding with the invading rebellious Scots. He then marched into the Commons - which, I'm sure almost all of my readers know, is a huge 'no-no' in the parlance of today - and tried to have 5 members arrested. Charles then fled the city and declared Parliament in rebellion and raised a royal army. With him, left a number of royalist MPs who formed the Oxford Parliament. Of the total 507 MPs, 175 fled to Oxford; this would have left 332 in what became known as the Long Parliament. In the lords, 86 fled, leaving, what seems to be, 21.

It was during this period that the House started implementing "Recruiter Elections". It had now been 5 years since they were elected, and a number of their members no longer sat (for example, those who fled to oxford). These are, basically, by-elections to fill vacancies.

By 1648, there were 471 active members of the House, most, having been elected over 8 years prior. It was in 1648 that "Prides Purge" occured, where elements of the army, lead by Col. Pride, barred access to the Commons to many members. When all was said and done, 200 members were left. Of them, only 70 regularly attended the House, and a dozen, the Lords.

Keep in mind that in a body of 507 MPs, only 70 truly remained. It would be as though the Canadian military blocked off the House of Commons, and only let Bloc Quebecois MPs in. Beyond this, these MPs held no general elections, and thus continued to sit. Imagine that not only has the military does this for the Bloc, but that there have been no elections since the year 2000. Now imagine that the "Parliament", AKA the Bloc MPs elected 20 years ago, claim to represent the electorate, as, they were after all, elected; and you start to understand the problem.

So, how does this tie in to Taiwan?

Three events took place in Taiwan and China that mirror some of the above.

First, the 1947 and 1948 elections, in which Communists did not run. This was held in the context of a divided country in a civil war, and as such, any 'purge' would have taken place by voters voluntarily staying away from the ballot box if they held communist or anti-nationalist sympathies. Second, the move to Taiwan where 330 of the 759 members fled, significantly cut the number of members. Finally, the 330 that remained continued to sit for life until the completion of the democratization process, with only recruiter elections in the interim.

That legislature, the Legislative Yuan, elected in 1948 from members across China, would rule Taiwan for decades. In 1969, an election via co-option was held, adding 11 members to the assembly. It was after this that they did something different, and which likely lead to Taiwan's eventually becoming a democracy.

At the next recruiter elections in 1972, they decided the new members would sit only for 3 years. They elected 51 members. In 1975, they elected 52 members. Each time, all the newly elected members would have their seats go back up for a general election. Just before the 1978 elections, however, the US terminated diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the elections were delayed.

Delayed until when? Well I don't want to spoil tomorrow's entire blogpost! More on this tomorrow.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Theory: Tory race may already be wrapped up.

I want to present a theory. The race for the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, is already wrapped up.

This idea hit me when Peter MacKay announced he was backing Scheer back in November. It seemed odd to me that MacKay would make such a forceful statement, supposedly in response to his previous naysaying about the 2019 campaign's quality. It was this that made me think somebody had contacted MacKay. This person said to him "I have dirt on Andrew, I want to run for leader, I think I have it locked up, and I want your support." MacKay, it seems, was not keen on this; at least, according to my theory.

Next is the fact that just after Scheer said he was staying around, a scandal broke, and he decided to step down. Again, it really seemed, to me, like someone had dirt on Scheer and said "Step down, or I'm going to release a scandal I have on you." and Scheer decided to stand up to them.

Now, that the leadership race is announced, we find out that, the candidate registration deadline is 2 weeks away. The question is, why so close? If we go with the theory; it is because somebody already has the race wrapped up.

The question is, who?

It would have to be somebody who is seen as someone who could win. Lets take a look at the possibilities.

Peter MacKay - This would mean his earlier statement was a misdirection. While I don't put it past him, I don't get the idea he wants the job that bad, and I have doubts.

Rona Ambrose - Possible, but it does not fit what I know of her personality, and I also get the impression for some reason that she people floating her are doing so because they oppose who ever this mystery person is.

Michael Chong - Playing dirty is fundamentally opposed to his core ethos, so I have strong doubts; but it is always possible our mystery man is simply working for someone rather than is that person themselves.

Michelle Rempel Garner - This is, also, not her style, and, her power base has never been within the shady sorts that could pull this off.

So, all of those candidates are unlikely. Who is more likely?

Folks like James Moore, Lawrence Cannon, or John Baird certainly could pull this off in terms of having the skills to do so, but none of them are really in a strong position to push for leader.

More likely is Pierre Poilievre, whose skill set matches this very well; but he is too unpopular with some in the party.

Erin O'Toole also clearly has a lot of internal support, as you don't place as well as he did in a leadership race when you are a relative unknown (compared to the others) unless you have a lot of support within the party structure itself.

None of them, however, are my top candidates. Those are:

Jean Charest - There's a reason he's suddenly popped up in the media as a possible contender. If he's working behind the scenes we could see things playing out the way we have. The problem, and why I have difficulty thinking it is him, is that his connections to the modern CPC, especially the 'back room shadowy types' that would be needed to mastermind this, are iffy. Still, there's a chance he is our mystery man.

Candice Bergen - Our mystery man could be a woman. Bergen is very popular within the inner machinery of the party, and, very powerful within that machine. Additionally, much more than Scheer, she strikes me as the sort of person who could play political hardball as well as Harper did. There is a good chance she is the one; the problem is that she seems to be somewhat pro-Scheer, and thus, why would she do this to him?

Gerard Deltell - Our darkhorse entry is my bet for who we are looking for. He is the former ADQ leader prior to its merger with the CAQ. He got there by building up exactly the kind of support network you'd need to pull this off. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of thought within the Conservatives that they need a Quebec leader, as, they have the West locked down. It is exactly this sort of thinking that could lead those not 'in' on the plot to suspect another candidate - like Charest - is the one that people have in mind. Beyond that, if Ambrose is, as I suspect, the person that those opposed to this idea are rallying around, than Deltell, as the person she is running against (vs Bergen) makes a lot more sense. Ambrose vs Deltell is a far more well contrasted battle than Ambrose vs Bergen.

There is, however, a final option.

My theory could simply be wrong. I've been in politics long enough to know that the organized cabal is almost never the actual answer to why things happen, and that most of the time, most politicians run around like headless chickens and have gotten to where they are simply by being the best at dealing with what seems like chaos. As such, the actual answer could be no one person is behind it, and I'm simply looking for things that are not there.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Places to check for me, and update on countries.

I've been recently using my personal blog for some personal growth. Part of that growth will see me use the blog a lot more to help journal certain things in my life. If you are wondering what I'm up to, this can be a great place to find out. My twitter account is another good option, and if you go to facebook you can find me by searching TheNewTeddy; but I won't add you as a friend (sorry) as I mostly use it to stay in contact with those who refuse to move to twitter. I'm also always on discord, if you want my contact info for that, let me know on twitter. Lastly, my imgur account is TheNewTeddy, where you can follow my comments on the various memes and images I come across. If you notice the amount of posting I am doing has dropped off, you'll find the answer in one of those places guaranteed (in all honesty, discord or my personal blog are your best bets; it's the latter that will help you explain why I'm trying to compare the ancien regime provinces of france to the areas under control by its various parlements.)

But, most people don't come here to listen to me talk about my personal issues, you come to hear about politics around the world. Countries are starting to get back on track after the winter break.

Recent polls in Israel show not much changed over the break in terms of support, though parties are slowly starting to form electoral coalitions before the January 15th deadline; things still are looking up for Gantz, but only ever so slightly.

Spain('s newly elected Parliament) is finally going to vote on confirming its new coalition government. The Catalan parties have made agreements to allow this to happen, and the votes themselves are expected over the weekend and early next week.

Lastly, just to note, I do, from time to time, follow elections in countries that are not expected to vote any time soon. Emmanuel Macron, for example, is still expected to win the next Presidential elections in France, though with a much narrower margin (55%-45% vs 66%-34% last time), and has been fairly consistent at this support level over Le Pen for all of 2019. However, the most recent poll is from before the pension strikes.

Most other large countries either held elections last year (Poland, Thailand, India, South Africa) are countries I already regularly update and follow (Italy, Germany, Japan) are not fully democratic (China, Iran) have semi-stable political systems that make following things this far out semi pointless (Nigeria, Pakistan) or are Presidential in nature (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina) whereas I tend to follow countries more Parliamentary in nature.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Predictions for the next Canadian election, and general updates

I wanted to address something that I saw today from another political blog that I follow; this being the idea that the Tories can't win the next election. To address this, I'd simply like to state my current prediction for the next election:

50-230 Liberal
30-280 Conservative
0-130 NDP
0-40 Green
0-40 Peoples Party
0-60 Bloc Quebecois

A lot depends on when the next election is. If that election is tomorrow, I'd expect the Liberals to gain slightly under a dozen seats on the Tories, and for the NDP to pick up a few as well, leaving them in a much stronger minority. If it is 4 years from now, events will determine the results. What if Trudeau is run over by a bus, and the new Liberal leader takes the party to the right? Well the NDP could end up doing very well. What if the Tories elect a leader who is a quack? this won't lead to them gaining seats, or even retaining most of the ones they have. What if the Tories decide to go far to the left and are unable to bring their base along with them? We'd likely see the Peoples Party returning. The simple fact is that there are too many variables right now for me to feel comfortable calling things. 

That being said, I can make a prediction for each of those variables.

Trudeau is unlikely to be hit by a bus. The Tories are unlikely to elect someone who is a complete incompetent, or, who will move the party radically, or, who will prove to be super popular. This government is unlikely to last more than 36 months or less than 12. The Greens are unlikely to pick a totally unacceptable new leader. Neither the NDP nor the Bloc are likely to see radical changes. With this in mind our ranges are much lower: 

135-180 Liberal
100-135 Conservative
18-28 NDP
0-6 Green
24-38 Bloc Quebecois
0-1 Independent

Under these circumstances, yes, it does become impossible for the Tories to win; but that only takes into account the variables we know about. Did anyone, planning for the variables for the 2019 election, have "will a scandal break on Feb 7th 2019" in their plans? Likely not. It would only take one more good scandal to put the Tories over the top.

Even in my wide prediction above, I discount certain variables. For example, what if some major issue split the Liberals in half, and Trudeau left with a rump of MPs to form his own party, and govern in coalitions with others? This has happened in both the UK, and Australia, the two other 'westminster' systems closest to our own. What if a corruption scandal explodes, with over half the members of Parliament under indictment, and 400 city and town councils end up dissolved? This happened in Italy in 1992 in the Mani Pulite. What if the military rolls in and overthrows the government? This happened in France in 1958. I discount all of these as "impossible" in my above projection, and each is so extremely unlikely that I'd be willing to bet money that none of them will happen; but they could happen, just as the universe could end before you finish reading this sentence.


In other news, I've decided to make more of an effort towards posting on the blog every day, or as close to it as is reasonable. There's always a debate about quality vs quantity, but at some point, you just need quantity. A newspaper that publishes 5 articles a decade isn't going to do very well even if all 5 regularly sweep all the "top 5 news stories of the decade" lists.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Austrian "election" finally "ends", general update, and notes on 2020

This bit of news caught my attention (link) Austria has a new government. As I expected, the Conservatives and the Greens have nailed down a coalition agreement, and will form the new government.

RTE is one of the news websites I regularly check, mostly for international news (IE not news from Ireland or even Britain.) The reason is that RTE's main front page tends to not have much in the way of international news stories, as such, if I see something there, there's a good bet it is actually 'notable' VS being something the media of one country has decided to focus on for some absurd reason (this, of course, being if said news story is either of note, like the one I just nabbed, or is also in other news sources like the BBC or CTV.) As such, it helps provide me with a bit of a 'sanity check' as to the news of the day from around the world.

Secondly, you'll notice in the title I've claimed the "election" has ended. I define "election" for the purposes of this blog in a unique way. An "election" begins, generally, with the dropping of the writ. However, some countries have laws of Purdah, for the "Pre-Election Period" where you could also claim an "election" begins. Lastly, some countries with different systems, notably the USA, have their own election start dates. The US, for example, traditionally sees their "election" start today, January 1st, in the year containing the presidential election.

All of this is simply in the context of me writing content for this blog. Countries can define election periods as they see fit. By that same token, and far more important, I need an "end" date of the election, as, that tends to be when coverage here stops.

Elections end when governments are formed, or, when, due to the failure of the former, a new election is called. Spain, for example, has been in an election since February 12th of 2019. Sure a second election was called during that period, and the election wasn't called until the 13th, vs the budget (VoNC) failure on the 12th, but for the purposes of this blog - which I remind you focuses on writing about elections - Spain entered an "Election" period on February 12th, and has yet to come out of said period, even if a new election was called in the interim.

Which brings me to 2020

One thing I want to do this year is to catalogue, in new blog posts, all the various things that mention from time to time, such as what an election is, or what I mean by the new left vs new right, or finishing all those half-finished projects, like my series of posts on Senate reform. To this end, I'm going to try to make such posts so that I can point to them in the future and say "this is what I mean."

Lastly, general updates, including upcoming elections.

Italy is having regional elections in Calabria on the 26th. Normally I wouldn't follow these, and I'm unlikely to post about it until the 27th, but this is a southern region and I'd very much like to see what kind of support LN and FdI can draw there, as it will help focus projections for the next national election in Italy. Polls suggest Lega Nord is leading is this Southern region, if this remains true, it would solidify a major shift in Italian politics for just who carries the banner for the right.

No other local elections before the traditional early May UK local elections catch my attention. Further elections into the summer, including one in an Australian territory, or the Fall elections in Hong Kong, will be focused on as the date draws nearer.

In terms of National-level elections, Taiwan is the first that catches my eye. It takes place on the 11th. The Pan-Greens seem to be sailing to victory; they are not environmentalist, but rather take their name from the main colour of the DPP. The DPP is the more anti-China party of the two main parties. I'll certainly cover the results, and may do a pre-election post as well.

Peru votes on the 26th, I may cover the results, and pending other factors (level of writers block vs itchy fingers) could even do a pre-election post.

Iran's election on Feb 21st will deserve a mention. Israel's election on the 2nd of March certainly is going to get a close look by me, including multiple posts. South Korea's election on the 15th of April will get a results post, and likely will see a pre-election post as well. Serbia's elections on the 26th of that might will likely see results coverage, and maybe a few pre-election posts explaining the history of Serbia, in sum, over the past few decades.

Other elections I'll likely comment on later in the year include but are not limited to Poland, Mongolia, Georgia, Ghana, New Zealand, as well as possibly Romania, Egypt, Belize, and for a laugh, maybe Belarus.