At least three places have managed to hold elections recently: a country, a state and a city.
This week’s big election, held yesterday (see preview here), was a good one for the theory that Covid-19 would produce a rally towards incumbents. The Democratic Party of president Moon Jae-in has scored a big victory, and he will have a solid majority in the new legislature.
Official results (I think these are final, but not being able to read Korean I can’t be sure) show the centre-left Democratic Party winning 163 of the 253 constituency seats and 17 of the 47 proportional seats, a total gain of 57 from last time and an overall majority of 60. The centre-right opposition, the United Future Party, has 103 (84 constituency and 19 proportional), a loss of 19.
Other parties have failed to make much of an impact. Best of them is the left-wing Justice Party, with one constituency and five proportional seats. The centrist People’s Party, which won 38 seats last time but has since split and rearranged itself, has mostly disappeared, but one of its offshoots, the People Party, won three proportional seats, as did the liberal Open Democrats.
There is no sign yet of actual voting figures. The fact that the centre-right won slightly more proportional seats may mean that it did much better in votes than the above numbers suggest, or it may simply mean that it was better at gaming the system in the way I explained yesterday.
As we noted at the time, Wisconsin’s Republican legislature and supreme court insisted on holding the state’s election last week, including the Democrat presidential primary as well as various state and local offices. But in order to allow extra time for postal votes to come in, no results were released until this week.
The primary result wasn’t any sort of surprise. Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders by not quite two to one, 62.9% to 31.8%, and carried every county. Sanders withdrew from the race before the results were out, and has strongly endorsed Biden for the presidency. For once, the Democrats seem to be getting their act together, although no-one knows how much difference that will make in November.
Much more contentious in Wisconsin, and the main reason there was so much angst about holding the election, was the contest for a seat on the state supreme court – officially non-partisan but in reality politically polarised. Democrat Jill Karofsky won it easily, unseating the Republican incumbent 55% to 45%.
That’s a very bad sign for the Republicans in a key swing state, particularly given how low turnout was: somewhere around 35%, of which perhaps three-quarters were postal votes. The health crisis doesn’t seem to be benefiting incumbents everywhere.
In contrast, check out the final results from Brisbane City Council, Australia’s largest local government election, which we talked about a fortnight ago. (The ABC’s version is probably more user-friendly.)
There the incumbents scored a perfect record. Lord mayor Adrian Schrinner was re-elected with a reduced majority, and his Liberal National Party retained all of its 19 seats. Its opponents – five Labor, one Green and one independent – held all of theirs as well, most of them quite comfortably.
I can’t recall the last time that’s happened in an election of this size. Tasmania did it in 2006, but it’s only got about half as many voters as Brisbane.
If Labor had introduced compulsory preferences, as it did for state elections, it would have noticeably improved its position. Assuming an 80% preference flow between them, Labor and the Greens would each have picked off an LNP seat; with 85%, it would have been two each. But perhaps relations between the two are so poor that Labor wouldn’t have accepted that as a good bargain.
Added Monday 20th: Antony Green now has a very good statistical analysis of the Brisbane results, including lots of interesting historical detail. But one thing he said made me recheck my figures, and it’s not quite right to say the ALP would have picked off an extra seat (Northgate) with an 80% preference flow from the Greens – they actually would have needed 80.5%. (I’m not sure if there was late counting there or if I just miscalculated the first time.)