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Tag Archives: Canada
Sometimes, a week is a long time in politics. There are still 53 weeks to go to the 2016 general election, and three months to the Iowa Caucuses, but this week was a big week. Three candidates out on the Democratic side, a probable new speaker, an old investigative committee, a new investigative committee, and two elections — one in Canada and one in Louisiana.
In most of the United States, the general election (at every level) is mostly a two-party race. In 2014, there were thirty-four races in which the winning candidate got less than 50%. In only two of these races did the winning candidate get beneath 45%. In only 11 of these races did the loser get below 45%. In ten of these races, it is probable that the minor part candidates may have altered the winner of the race. Given the rareness of such races, strategic voting is normally not viewed as a significant issue in the general election in the U.S., but it is a significant issue in the primary and in elections in other countries.
Starting with other countries, the two countries with the most similar election system to the U.S. are the United Kingdom and Canada. Both use a first-past-the-post system for parliamentary elections, just like most states use for Congressional and Senate elections. The difference is that — unlike the U.S. — Canada and the U.K. have, at least, three major parties and some parties with regional strength.
In the last U.K. election, the Conservatives won 330 seats out of 650 seats to get a majority. Out of the 650 seats, the winning candidate got less than 45% in 68 seats, and failed to get a majority in 97 seats. The Conservatives won 40 of those seats.
From time to time, I like to take a look at upcoming elections in our allies. As the recent market fluctuations in response to problem with the Chinese economy show, the U.S. is not immune to feeling the effects of problems in the rest of the word. Between now and November, there will be elections in Greece, Canada, Portugal, and Turkey. For now, I want to focus on Greece, Canada, and Turkey.
Greece will hold its second election of 2015 next Sunday, September 20. This election was almost inevitable after the results of the January election. The Greek economy has been on shaky ground since the 2008 global recession, and Greece has needed multiple bailouts from its economic partners to avoid defaulting on its loans. In January 2015, the Greeks voted for a new party (Syrizia) that opposed the concessions made in past bailout deals and promised to be a tough negotiator in the next round. The problem was that Greece needed a new bailout more than its partners needed to keep Greece afloat. So the government eventually had to accept a worse deal than its supporters wanted. Several members of the governing party voted against the deal, costing the government its majority and leading to this second election.
Greece uses a proportional representation system to elect 250 members of parliament. To reduce the likelihood (endemic to proportional representative systems) of an inconclusive result in which tiny parties hold the balance of power, Greece gives the party that finishes first an additional 50 seats. As a result, it only takes around 35-40% of the vote rather than 48-50% to get a majority of the seats. The question for next week’s election is whether Syrizia will keep their supporters (with voters recognizing the limitations that the Greek government faces) or whether Greek voters will look for some other party promising the impossible.