Northern Cyprus, a quasi-country in the eastern Mediterranean, went to the polls on the same day as Bolivia for the second round of its presidential election (see my preview here).
In the first round, prime minister Ersin Tatar had led incumbent president Mustafa Akıncı by two and a half points. Akıncı gained the endorsement of third placegetter Tufan Erhürman, but it didn’t help. Tatar’s lead barely changed; in fact it widened slightly and he won the runoff with 51.7% to Akıncı’s 48.3%.
That’s a win for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and correspondingly bad news for the prospects of peace in Cyprus. Dahlia Scheindlin at Foreign Policy has an excellent assessment of the result and its significance; among other things she notes that the Greek Cypriots have to take a share of the blame, having poured cold water on peace efforts in the past.
By contrast, Queensland’s election last Saturday was a good one for the incumbents. Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been re-elected with a slightly increased majority, winning 40.3% of the vote and what looks like about 51 of the 93 seats (up from 48 last time). Her Liberal National Party opposition dropped maybe four seats to 35, from 35.7% of the vote, a two-party-preferred swing somewhere in the neighborhood of two per cent.
The Greens picked up a second seat (from Labor), and otherwise the minors stayed where they were: three for Katter’s Australian Party, one One Nation and one independent. But the One Nation vote dropped sharply, from 13.7% down to just 7.0%; it retained its single seat on LNP preferences. (All results are provisional; Kevin Bonham is tracking the late counting.)
It appears that the opposition’s scare campaign on youth crime in north Queensland had little effect, and its scepticism about Palaszczuk’s border closure went down badly. LNP leader Deb Frecklington has announced her resignation. With the next election not until 2024 (a referendum in 2016 introduced fixed four-year term), her party now has plenty of time to try to work out what it stands for.
Incumbency seems to have also been an advantage in Georgia, which voted on the same day as Queensland. The polls had suggested that the government of prime minister Giorgi Gakharia and his Georgian Dream party would lose ground, but in fact its vote was pretty much unchanged: 48.2%, down just 0.5% on 2016. The opposition ticket led by the United National Movement had 27.2%, up 0.1%. (Official results here.)
Exactly what that will mean in seats won’t be clear until the second round of voting for the constituency seats, but there’s no doubt the government will have a majority. It will take just over half of the 120 proportional seats (61 or 63*), plus it has won 12 of the 30 constituency seats on the first round, and is so far ahead as to be unbeatable in another six.
Another seven parties have cleared the 1% threshold for proportional seats, all of them opposed to the government. None of the opposition parties are actually ahead in any of the constituency seats, but if they pool their vote effectively they could possibly overtake Georgian Dream in up to a dozen of them – although it should be noted that they failed to do so last time.
The opposition has claimed that the election was rigged and promised to boycott the new parliament, but there seems a shortage of evidence to substantiate its claims. In troubled times for the region, there’s nothing implausible in the idea that most voters would choose to stick with the devil they know.
Finally to Ivory Coast, or Côte d’Ivoire, where there’s a less encouraging story to tell about democracy. There too the incumbent has been returned, but primarily because the opposition boycotted the election.
President Alassane Ouattara announced last March that he would respect term limits and retire this year, but he later went back on that after the sudden death of his replacement. The opposition protested vigorously and sometimes violently, but the election went ahead regardless last Saturday, with two of his three opponents calling on their supporters to stay away.
So it’s no surprise at all that Ouattara has officially been re-elected with 94.3% of the vote, followed by independent Kouadio Konan Bertin (who apparently wasn’t boycotting) with 2.0%, Henri Konan Bédié (centre-right) 1.7% and Pascal Affi N’Guessan (centre-left) 1.0%. Turnout was 53.9%, which in the circumstances – if it’s an accurate figure – is pretty good.
The opposition says it will create a transitional government to organise a fresh election. But while Ouattara clearly did the wrong thing by standing again, his record in government has been good and it doesn’t look as if there’s a real groundswell of support for the opposition. And given that Ivory Coast’s experience of civil war is all too recent, my guess is that he will get away with it this time.
* The official website (or at least its English-language version) doesn’t give a seat allocation for the proportional seats. A D’Hondt calculation on the figures gives 63 to Georgian Dream, 35 to the UNM and 22 to the rest; by Sainte-Laguë those numbers are 61, 35 and 24. I’ve also consulted Wikipedia in three different languages and got three different sets of numbers, all in the same ballpark but none of them actually adding to 120.