Time to catch up on the last week or so of election results.
Norway voted at the beginning of last week (see my preview here), and as expected the centre-right government of prime minister Erna Solberg went down to defeat. Solberg’s Conservatives suffered a swing of 4.7% to fall to 20.4% and lost nine of their 45 seats. (Official results here.) The largest of the three other parties supporting her government, the (modestly) far-right Progress Party, also lost ground, dropping 3.6% and six seats – the third election running at which it has gone backwards.
The main opposition party, the centre-left Labour Party, also fell back slightly, down 1.1% and losing one of its 49 seats. But its two preferred coalition partners, the Centre Party (agrarian) and the Socialist Left (mainstream far left), both did well, picking up nine and two seats respectively. The three will have 89 of the 169 seats between them, a majority of nine, and Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre will become prime minister.
In 2017, as I explained last week, the centre-right was lucky in the way that the 4% threshold worked: two of its allies just cleared it, whereas two of its opponents just fell short. This time its effects cancelled out. The Reds (4.7%) and the Liberals (4.6%) both just made it, while the Greens (3.9%) and Christian Democrats (3.8%) both missed out and therefore won only district seats (three each), not proportional seats.
Although it represents only a modest shift to the left, the result is a good omen for the Social Democrats in Sunday’s German election. It also means that all five nordic countries will have left-of-centre prime ministers for the first time since 1959.
Even before the Covid era, California had a record of slow counting. It’s maintained that with last week’s recall election (previewed here); six days later, only 89% has been counted, and about two-thirds of that was done within the first few hours.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt about the result. Democrat governor Gavin Newsom has survived comfortably, with 63.0% voting “no” on the recall, a margin approaching three million votes. That’s a substantially bigger win than the polls had predicted, and makes any claims of fraud unrealistic: despite their previous accusations of malpractice, leading Republicans quickly conceded defeat.
Although it now has no effect, the ballot on who should replace Newsom was a clear win, as expected, for Trumpist Republican Larry Elder. Elder had 47.5% against 45 opponents, none of whom reached double figures: Democrat Kevin Paffrath did best with 9.9%, followed by moderate Republican Kevin Faulconer on 8.4%. Turnout on the replacement vote was not much more than half that on the recall ballot, suggesting that most of Newsom’s supporters took his advice and ignored it.
President Joe Biden has not had a good couple of months, so this is a welcome morale boost for the Democrats. Credit is being given to Nemsom’s strategy of framing the vote as a choice on whether or not to take the pandemic seriously – a strategy already used with great success by Australia’s state premiers.
In Russia, on the other hand, counting is reasonably efficient and results from Sunday’s parliamentary election (previewed here) are more or less complete. They are very much in line with expectations. (See official results here and here; note that they don’t factor out the informals. You may need Google Translate to help with the party names.)
President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, lost ground but still won 50.9% of the vote (down 4.3%); that gave it a modest majority of the proportional seats (126 of 225, down 14), but it again cleaned up in the single-member seats, winning 198 out of 225 (down four) for a total 324 seats in the 450-seat house, thus retaining its two-thirds majority.
Its leading opponent was again the Communist Party, with 19.3% (up 5.7%) and a total of 57 seats (up 15). But in a more hopeful sign, the third placegetter, the far-right LDP, lost substantially, down 5.7% to 7.7% for 21 seats (down 18). A Just Russia (centre-left) improved about a point to 7.6% and won 27 seats (up four), and the new centre-right party, New People, managed 5.4% for 13 seats. Another three parties failed to reach the 5% threshold but won a district seat each, as did five independents.
None of these results should be taken very seriously – firstly because none of the “opposition” parties are really hostile to the regime, and secondly because Putin is quite capable of manufacturing results if the real ones don’t serve his purpose. All the same, the fact that alternative voices do exist and function, and even succeeded in making some gains, helps to prevent the dictatorship from becoming complete.
Finally to Canada, where results have been steadily coming in from this morning’s election (see preview here). Figures will not be final for a few days, but it is clear that the Liberal Party of prime minister Justin Trudeau has again won the largest number of seats (but not of votes), and has again fallen short of a majority in the House of Commons.
Going by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s results (the Toronto Globe and Mail is equally comprehensive, but somewhat less conservative with its calls than the CBC), the Liberals have won 130 of the 338 seats and are leading in another 26. The opposition Conservatives have 112 and are leading in another nine; the Quebec Bloc has won 27 and leads in five while the New Democrats have won 21 and lead in another six.
If those totals hold – and while they will bounce around a bit there’s no reason to expect them to change radically – it will mean very little overall movement. The Liberals will be down one seat on last time, the Conservatives and the Quebeckers both unchanged and the NDP up three. The Greens, who lost two-thirds of their vote, will have two seats, losing one, and the single independent has retired.
It being Canada, the result in terms of votes looks completely different. The Conservatives are in the lead with 34.1% (down 0.2%), followed by the Liberals on 31.7% (down 1.4%) and the NDP 17.5% (up 1.5%). The Quebec Bloc with 8.4% (up 0.8%) has less than half the vote of the NDP but is winning more seats, while the right-wing People’s Party, not far behind on 5.2% (up 3.6%), is winning no seats at all.
It looks as if the benefit of incumbency in a time of crisis was enough to exactly balance public anger at the early election. Trudeau is expected to continue in office with a minority government; there is no sign that the result has converted his opponents to the cause of working together, much less to electoral reform.
PS (Wednesday morning): Although yesterday, as I said above, the CBC was being more conservative with its calls than the Globe & Mail, in the late stage of counting, when there’s basically just postal votes to go, it’s the other way around: the Globe & Mail lists 26 seats as still doubtful while the CBC only has 15. But going by which party is ahead, the Liberals and the Quebec Bloc have each improved by two on the numbers given above, 158 and 34, with the Conservatives (119) and the NDP (25) each down two.