Another election roundup

There’s not much electoral action in coming weeks: Equatorial Guinea is having an election next Sunday, but nobody expects it to be democratic. The next contest of interest is in Iran. In the meantime there are more results from a couple of recent elections.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s election results are now pretty much final, with 262 of the 272 constituency seats declared. (Earlier report here.) Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League has won 125 of those – just short of a majority, but with no expected difficulty in adding enough independents and minor parties to be able to control the parliament. (There are 28 independents, plus another ten parties with only one or two MPs.)

The incumbent Pakistan People’s Party finished second with 31 seats, closely followed by Imran Khan’s Movement for Justice on 27. It’s not at all clear how well those totals reflect the  total votes received; I haven’t gone through the time-consuming process of compiling the vote totals from the electoral commission’s website, and I can’t find anyone else who’s done it either.

Another 70 seats are to be allocated to women and minorities, in proportion to the parties’ electoral support by province. There is an opportunity for independents to join one of the parties before this happens (although they have to swear an affidavit to do so), so that process is likely to boost Sharif’s strength.

Of the four provincial parliaments, Sharif’s party and the PPP have clear majorities in Punjab and Sindh respectively; Movement for Justice is the largest party and expected to be able to govern in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and Baluchistan is a mess of small parties and independents.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s results are now also final. Late results (incorporating voters from outside the country) favored the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which is based in the ethnic Turkish community, but otherwise things are very much as I described them last week. The incumbent centre-right party GERB topped the poll with 30.5% of the vote, but is well short of a majority.

My inability to read Bulgarian led me to misrepresent the system slightly in the previous post: apparently the first-past-the-post constituency seats have been scrapped. It’s now just a single proportional allocation (D’Hondt system) for 240 seats across the whole country. That slightly improves the position of the far-right Attack party at the expense of GERB, but it leaves unchanged both the order of the parties and the key fact that the Socialist Party and the MRF have exactly half the seats between them (84 and 36 respectively).

Despite being the largest party, GERB has protested against the results, claiming to be the victim of a fake ballot paper scandal just before polling day and seeking fresh elections. GERB leader and former prime minister Boyko Borisov says that failing that he is willing to propose a minority government, but he knows this will not win parliamentary approval.

Yavor Siderov in the Guardian laments Bulgaria’s dysfunctional political culture and traces its origins to various features of its recent history – it’s well worth a read. Fundamentally, however, this is something that could happen just about anywhere. (Every country’s politics looks dysfunctional if you look closely enough.) You have a far-right party that no-one else wants to co-operate with, a heavily discredited incumbent and a plausible coalition that just happened to win exactly half the seats.

The Socialists have proposed a non-partisan government of technocrats as the best way to overcome the impasse. No doubt they will soon get their chance to try to make that work.

Malaysia

Further to the scandalous Malaysian election of two weeks ago, Adam Carr at Psephos has now compiled a complete set of figures. (No doubt in due course he’ll have them by constituency as well.) I’m pleased to say they agree almost exactly with mine: he says the opposition won by 50.9% to 47.4% (I had said 50.7% to 47.6%), despite being deprived of victory by the electoral system.

Kenya

Another recent election, in Kenya, is now the subject of a very interesting briefing from the International Crisis Group. It’s reasonably positive, pointing out that “A number of factors contributed to a predominantly peaceful election, including a general consensus between the political elite and the citizenry not to bring Kenya to the brink of civil war again.” But it stresses that “a number of vital, more overarching reforms addressing systemic and structural conflict drivers … have yet to be implemented.”

In addition to, of course, getting the electoral machinery to work properly, one of the things it particularly points to is the importance of carrying through the devolution of power to the newly-established county governments. Further evidence that, as I said the other week, Australia keeps degrading federalism “at just the time when other countries are discovering the virtues of federalism and trying to revitalise or reinvent it.”

Iran

Iran goes to the polls in just under a month, on 14 June, to elect a new president: two-term incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ineligible to run again. (There will be a runoff a week later if no candidate wins a majority.) The previous election, in 2009, was widely regarded as fraudulent, but despite (or perhaps because of) that, this one seems to be attracting a lot of interest. When nominations closed at the beginning of last week there were 686 would-be candidates.

It’s the job of the Guardian Council to whittle down that list, and it in turn is under the thumb of Iran’s real ruler, theocrat Ali Khamenei. Last time it excluded all but four out of 476 nominees. It’s expected to release its decision tomorrow, although we’ve already learned that women are pre-emptively banned.

Particular interest centres on whether or not the Council will rule out former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who at the age of 78 has nominated as a pro-reform candidate. Quoted in the Telegraph, Iranian expert Meir Javedanfar says that if reformist candidates “can demonstrate real support and that barring them from taking part will hurt stability more, Khamenei will let them run. Whether they would then be allowed to win or not is another question.”

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