Final results for 2006 mid-term U.S. elections are in...

...except they're not!

The final counts have been made but there are still two loose threads.

In the House of Representatives, the 23rd congressional district of Texas has been won by Democrat and former Representative Ciro D. Rodriguez, defeating Congressman Henry Bonilla (Republican) with 54.32% to 45.68% of the vote.

This means the House of Representatives final score would be 233 Democrats to 202 Republicans. However, according to the Green Papers, in Florida's 13th congressional district:
Democratic Christine L. Jennings filed a lawsuit requesting a new election arguing that a malfunction in the voting machines caused a 13% undervote (blank ballots). An audit indicated the machines worked correctly. Jennings' legal challenge will be heard in Leon County on 19 December. She has until 20 December to file a notice of contest with the U.S. House.

The declared winner there was Vernon Buchanan (Republican). However, I gather the House of Representatives will appoint the Democrat candidate if the decision is made by the new majority. This will kick up a stink.

Meanwhile the Senate could change hands back to the Republicans before the Democrats and allies take over in January.
The voting last month produced a split of Democrats 49, pro-Democrat Independents 2, Republicans 49.
However, the news [received by email] that 59-year old Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (South Dakota) has been hospitalized with a brain haemorrage opens the possibility that he will be replaced by Governor Mike Rounds's choice. As the latter is a Republican, he could push the Senate back to an effective 50-50 split, with Vice-President Dick Cheney casting the deciding ballot.
Expect lawyers to pore over the definition under South Dakota law of "incapacity."


"This should not be a 50-50 nation"

I think most people would agree, but Mark Steyn argues that President Bush blew it in 2001:

How you read this election depends on which way you pick up the book. If you look at it as a conventional sixth year race, the Democrats underperformed, as noted below. If you look at it as a contest between the September 11th party and the September 10th party, the Democrats did distressingly well. I look back on what I wrote in 2001/2002 - some of it's in The Face Of The Tiger - and I'm more than ever convinced that Bush and the Republicans lost a big opportunity to shift the culture in the wake of 9/11. This should not be a 50/50 nation."

Mark Steyn also rates this as the best night for Democrats since 1998 if not 1992. In the sense that this is about revenge against George Bush, a bigger hate figure than Newt Gingrich was, I should have thought that emotionally this was on a par with Little Rock 1992.

Republicans hold Senate: final forecast

With Democrats needing to find three wins from Arizona, Missouri, Georgia, Montana and Tennessee it looks like the Republicans have held the Senate, albeit by a thread.

The forecasts for the House of Representatives look better for the Democrats but at this time they are just that: forecasts. Good results for them in the gubernatorial elections.

No news yet on the the South Dakota abortion referendum, or Arnold Schwartzenegger. I expect the latter to be re-elected.

From 2004, tonight has been an excellent result for the Democrats. Will they think so? Only if they either sweep a lot of close races in the next few hours, or if their expectations were a lot lower than they claimed.

I'm off to bed at 03:55AM GMT (10:55PM EST).

Update: Jim Talent has conceded in Missouri and local report does not suggest that litigation will follow.

With George Allen and Conrad Burns looking weak in Georgia and Montana, the Democrats could yet take the Senate too.

If this narrow Democrat victory is cathartic for the Republicans, it will bring the latter down to earth with a solid bump (the voters have not done a 1997 UK election to the incumbants). Yet no one should underestimate the extent to which Democrat House and maybe Senate committees will dictate the headlines over the next two years. They would be foolish to miss the opportunity to hold hearings designed to embarrass their opponents on lobbying practices, the public finances and Iraq. The Democrats will not however be the Gingrich restraint on Clinton that fiscal conservatives and libertarians dream of. They will support almost every spending plan of President George Bush, and push forward their own pet schemes. The only surprise would be to see this president start vetoing spending bills.

Democrats winning tight races in House of Representatives

Tradesports is offering trades at effectively 16 to 1 against the Republicans hold in the House of Representatives, but odds on to hold the Senate.

To my U.S. readers, it may be illegal for you to use Tradesports. I use it to measure punters' estimates of future events, as they are generally more accurate than the so-called experts.

N.B. I have never placed a contract on the site and they haven't paid me a commission, nor am I looking for one.

Good results for Democrats in the Senate

Fox News says Rick Santorum has lost Pennsylvania (no surprise, he was behind all year). However, Menendez holding New Jersey is good for Democrats.

Disgraced Tom Foley does not cost GOP his seat...

...though he may yet contribute to losing the House of Representatives by discouraging some loyal supporters elsewhere. Vote counting in Florida's 16th congressional district is showing a lead for Foley's replacement.

Republican presidential hopeful looks finished

Perhaps one of the most significant developments has been the implosion of Virginia Senator George Allen's ambitions to become the next Republican candidate for President.

As I write, he may actually have lost his senate seat (where George Bush did "badly" to win by 9% in 2006). Even if Senator Allen is re-elected narrowly, his credibility as a presidential choice is shot to pieces. Double bonus.

Score 1 to the Democrats.

High turnout means polls could be wrong

Either the angry masses come out to "throw out the bums," so Democrat leads are underestimated.

Or the silent majority comes out and turns the pollsters into a laughing stock, again.

First results: no change in Indiana or Vermont

Early report here.

No indication of local swing, but I expect that there will be a lot of local variation. I don't expect to read too much if any Republicans or Democrats win by bigger or smaller margins, unless they are 2008 presidential hopefuls (George Allen [Republican] in Virginia for example).


Live blogging US mid-term elections

Tonight I risk my shirt: here's a round up of predictions:

Pro-Democrat sites
Politics1 says Governor: Dems 30, Reps 20; Senate: D 51, R 49; House of Representatives: D 235, R 200.
Electoral Vote says: Senate: Dems 51, Reps 49; House: D 239, R 195 and 1 tie.
ThinkProgress: uses CNN early poll data to predict exactly six Senate gains and no losses for the Democrats.
Chris Bowers at MyDD says: Senate: Dems 50, Reps 50; House D 229, R 206.
Jonathan Singer at MyDD says: Governors: Dems 30, Reps 20.

Pro-Republican site
RealClearPolitics says: Governors: Dems 28, Reps 22; Senate: D 49, R 51. House: D 222, R 213.

In 2004, RCP got it right, the others were way out. We shall see.

My own view is that the Senate stays Republican but the House of Representatives goes Democrat. This is a good night for them after the débacles of 2002 and 2004. A majority of governorships will be useful, but California stays Republican.


Turnout: elector bums on seats

Kos writes about the U.S. Republican get out the vote effort (GOTV), which he says, will actually determine the outcome of the elections in two weeks.

The Congressman Foley affair is precisely the sort of scandal that can cause a small number, but spread across all the narrow contests, of Republican voters to just sit at home and not bother to vote. The only chance this had of turning into an advantage for the G.O.P. was if there were evidence that Democrats knew about the activities of Mark Foley, and did not act to protect underage youths from being harassed, for the sake of using the scandal at election time.

There is some feeling among Republican supporters that this is exactly what happened, so far from demoralizing Republicans, the scandal could reinforce the sense of partisanship, which is precisely what mid-term elections are won on.

I'm holding my prediction of no change in control of either House or Senate, but major Democrat gains in the Governor elections (apart from California, Florida and Texas).


Swedish hacker to swing the election?

Kristine Lowe offers a curious tale of 11:30pm press conferences to deflect attention from the opposition.

I can honestly say this is a new one to me.

The story of a hacker caught interfering in the intranet of the governing party is noteworthy however. This is surely, at face value, a Watergate-style violation.

Nice way to kick off Election Watch's coverage of Sweden's election campaign!

Updates from Kristine here and here.


A good idea!

A good idea!

Boing Boing: Wikipedia founder calls for political campaign wikis

A daft idea

I should have covered this earlier:

MyDD :: Movement to Render Electoral College Obsolete Gains

Counting the Gains, Ignoring the Losses

From the The Rothenberg Political Report, comes an assessment of the chances of U.S. Republicans winning some seats while the Democrats make inroads.

In summary, although pundits predict that Democrats will win enough seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to take control back for the first time since 1994 (I don't), they fail to take into account any Republican chances of local victories.

A Fascist is always a disappointed Socialist

One of the best kept secrets among the socialists of the world is that their favourite object of insults: "Fascist!" is in fact a mutation of themselves.

Benito Mussolini, the original Fascist Party leader, was of course the erudite Marxist intellectual, who translated the original version of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (Volume 3) into Italian, who wrote copiously about the injustices of capitalism, and who at gatherings of international socialists would take the chair, as his preeminence over such characters as Lenin was universally recognized in the movement.

Andres Lopez Obrador is taking the same route.

Mussolini took power in Italy in 1922 after staging the infamous "March on Rome". The reason being that he couldn't win an election.

After losing the Mexican presidential election, guess what?


The love that dare not speak it's name: pork barrel

A secretive U.S. Senator has put a "hold" on legislation proposed by colleagues from both parties in the Senate, Tom Cockburn (Republican, Oklahoma) and Barak Obama (Democrat, Illinois), which would require organisations that receive U.S. federal tax funds to be listed on a website, with the amount received.

Daily Kos thinks this is a disgraceful abuse of senatorial privileges. I agree.

I'm sure that under U.S. law it would be illegal to "out" the snivelling coward. Under British law, where I am writing, I suspect that this would not hold up in court. You can leave an anonymous comment here (see below).

Update: Busted! And you what what? I would have bet serious money the Porkmaster-General, Senator Robert (ex-KKK) Byrd (Democrat, West Virginia) was involved.


That's all right then!

Don't panic. The Alabama, U.S.A. Democratic Party has not disqualified an openly lesbian candidate from contesting a seat for the southern state's House of Representatives on the grounds that she's not straight.

The rule under which she was disqualified after winning the primary hadn't been enforced for over twenty years and neither the Party's candidates for Alabama Governor or Lieutenant Governor had followed it. It's not like the scandal would affect the result: no other candidate has registered to contest the full election.

No the reason is that Patricia Todd is WHITE and most of her voters and political colleagues are BLACK.

So that's all right then!

Details: Politics1 - American Politics, Elections, Candidates & Campaigns

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Questions about my shirt

I'm starting to face questions about my shirt.

The Rothenberg Political Report: 2006 Governors Ratings endorses one of my themes for 2006, which is that the Democrats have real opportunities to gain back some of the Governors' mansions they've lost since 1994, notably New York.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping calm over my prediction that the Democrats would fail to win control of either House of Congress at this November's Mid-Term elections. Flicking through an election predictor for 2004 shows just how volatile estimates can be from state to state.
November 8 has the actual result but check out the prediction made on the eve of polling day based on opinion polls.

For real fun see this August 17 prediction John Kerry 327, George W. Bush 211.

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Do demographics kill liberalism?

It's an old debate: do free-markets breed generations that sustain capitalism? The eugenicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries thought not.

This time it seems that liberals aborting their foetuses by the bucketload are failing to transmit their culture to subsequent generations. The Wall Street Journal carries an interesting take on this here.

I've just finished calculating projections of the U.S. electoral college from 2012 to 2020, based on figures supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. It's worth bearing in mind that they are using population estimates for 2005 to predict trends to 2010, which means plenty of opportunity for error. Just one event: Hurricane Katrina, is bound to skew things if only a little.

BTW. Apologies for the lack of postings. I have been contemplating moving away from Blogger, but I've decided to give the new Beta version a spin soon, with the category function. Expect disruption and new posts soon.


Whale democracy

The moment voting is done by blocks of states, regardless of population size, of intensity of support or opposition, and of property rights, then there is a tendency for the worst decision-making to occur.

The International Whaling Commission allows any country, whose government levies the taxes (or borrows) to pay a subscription, an equal vote to decide whether the hunting of whales should be permitted, and if so, how much.

For years the animal lovers have successfully bullied and bribed their way: offering inducements and partial expemtions for eskimos and "scientific research" in exchange for a "commercial whaling" ban. One country, Norway, has refused to play ball and two other, Japan and Iceland, have managed to get whale meat caught for "scientific purposes" to end up on the dinner table.

It was only a matter of time before scarcity drove the price up, making whale meat an exotic luxury, so that the consumers have now bullied and bribed their own way to getting the votes overturned, if not this year, then surely in the near future. [Report in French here]

Watch out for votes coming from those countries where whaling is such a way of life: Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Bhutan, Nepal, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia.

Also watch out for some sour grapes as environmentalists complain that some governments vote for reasons other than animal welfare or hunters' rights.

It's the same problem in the Eurovision Song Contest, and the European Union generally.


Another podcast with Brian

Brian Micklethwait and I did another podcast this evening. Areas covered included Peru, Columbia, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.A..


More from Columbia

Reuters (permalinks are rubbish so I don't use theirs) reports:
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key U.S. ally in Latin America, swept to an emphatic election victory on Sunday, rewarded by voters for confronting guerillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers in a country bloodied by years of conflict and crime.

In Colombia's most peaceful election in years, Uribe won a second four years in office with 62 percent of the vote.

The key to Uribe's expected success was a crackdown on the right-wing militias and leftist FARC rebels, who use the profits from supplying cocaine and heroin to U.S. consumers to sustain their insurgency.

The story goes on to explain why Mr Uribe should lose the guerrila war, by not being beastly to the Communists.

Gateway Pundit has a more positive view of the events, from a U.S. perspective:
Pro-American President Alvaro Uribe, whose father was killed by guerillas 22 years ago, won big in his re-election attempt as Colombian President.

Pierre Rousselin in Le Figaro (sorry the link is broken, try searching "debats" page for 30 May 2006) offers a robust endosement of President Uribe's re-election:
La présidentielle a été un plébiscite pour la politique de fermeté du chef de l'Etat. Réélu dès le premier tour avec un record de 62% des voix, Alvaro Uribe sort considérablement renforcé du scrutin. Les Farc, qui, à la différence des précédents scrutins, avaient appelé les électeurs à se prononcer contre le président, subissent, de leur côté, une grave déroute politique, notamment dans les zones qu'elles prétendent contrôler. Leur cruauté et leur refus obstiné de tout contact avec le gouvernement ne pouvaient conduire à un autre résultat. Il remet à leur juste place les prétentions politiques d'une organisation mafieuse pour qui l'idéologie stalinienne n'est plus qu'un paravent.

Rough translation: Presidential election was plebiscite about the tough policies of Uribe. Outright winner in the first-round [so no second ballot necessary] with a record 62% of the vote. FARC, unlike previous elections had called on the population to vote against Uribe [instead of boycott - they must have REALLY been scared of him]. FARC was routed in the areas it claims to control. The group's cruelty and lack of negotiation was bound to lead to this. FARC exposed as a mafiosi outfit with pretensions of Stalinism.

Accusing Stalinists of being fakes is pretty wild! Only in France.


Have I missed anything?

A destroyed society.

Politicians loot. Vote for bigger looters. Politicians loot even more. Rebels who are even worse than the politicians kill. The army kills too. Vote for really bad looting politicians.

Blame the U.S.A.. Vote for the most anti-U.S. candidate possible. The candidate loots even worse than everyone else so far. Blame the U.S.A. Support a rebel who kills anyone.

The economy is a disaster (no kidding!). Politicians blame the U.S.A.. Vote for them. Politicians carry on looting. Vote for the officer who tried to take over by force. The officer cancels elections and kills more people. The officer loots even worse than the others (but kills anyone who talks about it).

Run away to the U.S.A..

Complain that the U.S.A. does not adopt the same political-economic system that is familiar from the home country. Blame the U.S.A.. Campaign to turn the U.S.A. into part of Mexico.

Then, repeat all of the above.

Peru is a basket case. The election will make things worse, unless people start acting responsibly. There are few incentives to do so however.

Daniel Hannan writes:

On the far Left stands Alan García who, as president between 1985 and 1990, suspended foreign debt payments and nationalised what remained of the private sector, including the banks. The result? An absolute decline in national wealth, mass unemployment and 7,649 per cent inflation.

On the even further Left stands Ollanta Humala, a cashiered ex-officer who sees Velasco as his role-model. Humala combines socialist economics with aggressive nationalism and a millenarian appeal to the indigenous peoples. His violent rhetoric has left opponents wondering whether, if he were to win, there would be any more elections.

Why have Peruvians put these two men in the final? Precisely because they have had enough of politics and politicians. They have been systematically looted by every regime they can remember.

They have seen a country that has colossal natural wealth - tin and copper, petrol and fisheries, silver and gold - reduced to pauperism. Such is their mood that, the more obnoxious a candidate seems to the governing caste, the more they want to support him.

They are voting, not in the hope of sensible economic reform - they have long given up on that - but as a howl of protest against the system.

Update: Thanks to Brian Micklethwait for correcting an embarrassing spelling mistake.


How to create a conspiracy theory

Give Ariel Sharon the wrong injection and put him in a coma at the start of an election campaign.

Warner still looks like a good outside bet

Hillary Clinton remains the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election in 2008. If she doesn't get the nod, my consistent guess has been that Mark Warner, the Virginia Governor who stood down with over 80% approval ratings in a broadly Republican state is the best pick.

Here, My DD publishes a somewhat glowing plug for Mr Warner.

Warner has been tracking a clear second place for several months now. Unlike John Edwards, who stood down as Senator in North Carolina (to avoid getting beaten in 2004), I would expect Warner to be an asset in the South.

There are solid (if only in terms of national name-recognition) and well-funded alternatives: John Kerry and Al Gore immediately spring to mind. Anyone offering good odds that Mark Warner will not get either the President or Vice-President nomination should be taken on.

Moment of glory

Ok so it was over a month ago, but I made top billing on Pyjamas Media. And the hit-counter went beserk.

I still think the Democrats won't win either House in Congress this autumn, although the Republicans seem to be helping them as far as humanly possible.

Do the Rights Brothers have it right for George Bush?

You can be sure that there isn't a British rock band that is technically as good as this, nor that has such a pro-Bush, pro-Blair line. The camera work on the video seems better than amateurish too.

The Right Brothers project the U.S.A. more accurately than the MSM (now there's a surprise). It's a safe bet that anyone with brains on the Al Qaeda payroll sees the U.S. economy doing a lot better and the U.S. military as more effective than Reuters or the AP do. It's probably fair to say that among Al Quaeda operatives, stories of U.S. military atrocities and torture (to the extent that they are real) do not come across as a sign of moral weakness.

Interesting times...


Back in business

I've had a few interruptions lately, but normal service is resuming, as I sift through the 250 odd saved clippings in my Newsgator account.

I'm looking at some upgrades to my Blogger account, as well as whether to have a feed of my selected news stories in the side bar.

The upgrades I'm after include:
1) categories;
2) a custom skin;
3) technorati taglines (maybe using del.icio.us);
4) more outward links;
5) maps and charts;
6) feed of relevant stories;
7) links to my podcasts;
8) various security features.

"Further updates as we receive them."


Nepal: Communists winning

The King of Nepal has agreed to the primary demand of the united opposition, that includes political parties and the Maoist terrorist who struck today. The restoration of the lower is no doubt calculated to split the parties into those that will be satisfied with moderate demands and those that will will want to turn Nepal into the new Cambodia.

If previous revolutions are any guide, the King should either get the hell out now, or strike very hard against the Maoists. Louis XV or Napoleon would fire grape shot into the crowds and survive, Louis XVI would order his troops not to shoot and watch them get torn to pieces before he eventually was executed in public and his family tortured and killed.

Elections don't work when one side promises to exterminate the losers and the only rational course is to stop the election. It's bad and may not improve for some time.


The most feared words in politics: Move On says, "We're here to help"

Move On helped Francine Busby in the California special election for the 50th congressional district, which is in San Diego County.

Guess what? She failed to hit 50% on a low turnout. I'd love to see the scripts they use for tele-canvassing.

I can see the Democrats winning in June, only to lose in November, but there are too many imponderables at the moment to give a serious forecast.

[Hat tip Daily Kos]

Podcasts and milestones

Exciting week: I've crashed through the 6,000 hits and 4,000 visits yesterday. It seems like only last week I was crowing about 5,000 hits (yes I know, Daily Kos gets that every hour or so).

Brian Micklethwait has uploaded the first two Election Watch podcasts.

Podcast #1.

Podcast #2.

Democrats will not win U.S. House of Representatives

I would bet my shirt on this now. It would take a massive terrorist attack, the assassination of Ted Kennedy, George W. Bush (or a close relative) caught in bed with a dead child, the accidental introduction of total gun control by the Republicans in the Senate, or four million illegal immigrants given the vote (and they all vote Democrat in the right districts).

If Francine Busby, despite all the blogging efforts of the pro-Democrat left, couldn't win outright the 50th Congressional District of California - covering San Diego County - her party will not win the 11-15 seats its needs to gain nationally to take back the lower house after six consecutive general election defeats. Daily Kos is unhappy about turnout. So they should be: 36.19% should have been low enough to give the Democrats a chance of an upset victory, clearly not enough angry San Diego voters.

A classic example of failing to manage expectations on the part of MyDD (but then they make Pangloss seem like Cassandra).

In fairness to Mrs Busby, the run-off on June 6 coincides with the Republican primary for the seat's re-election in November.

Confused? In plain English it means that the 13 losing Republican candidates will not be able to campaign to be elected Congressman in June, but they can campaign to be the Republican candidate for Congressman in November. Voters on June 6 will have two votes, one for Congressman today and another for Republican candidate in five months. If that doesn't split the Republican vote, nothing will. Expect the Republican Party's National Committee to try and broker an uncontested primary on June 6. Expect it to fail.

I said it last year (see below), the best chance for the Democrats in 2006 is to pick off the governors. New York, California, Florida and Texas are all up for grabs and all in Republican hands. If the Democrats can capture three of these they should be very satisfied. Forget about the House of Representatives, forget about winning control of the Senate (another fantasy).

Where the Democrats can do real damage is in taking on potential Republican candidates for the presidency. John McCain may be the front-runner, but not decisively so.

At this time, I still think it would be wildly optimistic for the Democrats to win control of either chamber in Congress. But if they keep holding their Governorships, and pick away at the Republican lead in the House of Representatives, they may hang on until 2008, when the Republicans will be defending large numbers of Senate seats, and they have as yet no clear cut presidential candidate.


Solomon Islands throw out the bums

Solomon Islands: from Reuters [world page doesn't have proper permalinks]
HONIARA (Reuters) - Solomon Islands voters ousted half their parliament in the first election since peacekeepers restored law and order in the South Pacific nation three years ago, officials said on Monday, announcing final poll results.

Prime Minister Sir Alan Kemakeza won his seat in last Wednesday's national election but will now have to lobby with winning candidates to form a coalition government ahead of a secret parliamentary ballot for prime minister on April 18.

A government spokesman said many of Kemakeza's elected People's Alliance Party (PAP) candidates have since deserted his party.

"Its difficult to tell how many PAP candidates have been elected as many stood as PAP and have now joined other parties," spokesman Alfred Maesulia told Reuters.

A total of 453 candidates from 13 parties contested 50 seats in an election dominated by government corruption, after several ministers were arrested on corruption charges in the past year.

The Solomon Star newspaper said that, based on the candidates' listings, 18 members of the new parliament are independents.

New parliamentarians will travel to the capital, Honiara, this week, many by boat from far-flung islands, to begin horse-trading to form a new coalition government.

Peru doesn't decide yet

Peruvian tentative results here from the BBC.

One Socialist anti-democrat and the sort of social-democrat who could turn Switzerland into Bolivia in five years, versus a "conservative" woman, whose main selling point is a Socialist woman got elected in Chile recently.

Do you get the feeling I'm not impressed with the breadth of choice on offer?

And there will be a run-off on May 7th.

It ain't over till Berlusconi's Mama sings*

First this, this and this ["Clear victory for Prodi according to early polls"]

Then this.

Then this.

And it's not over yet.

Any guesses why I don't rate exit polls? The next time they don't predict the Socialist wins in a tight race, only to underestimate the non-Socialist vote, I'll be interested.

The latest from Reuters [I'll use permalinks when they make them permanent]:
ROME (Reuters) - The result of Italy's general election hung in the balance on Monday, as one pollster said partial returns suggested Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi might win a shock majority in both houses of parliament.

A second pollster predicted that center-left challenger Romano Prodi would just hold off Berlusconi, leaving the result of the two-day vote on a knife-edge.

Exit polls at the end of the two-day ballot said Prodi had won the election, taking between 50-54 percent of the vote. But as the count proceeded, Nexus pollsters said the center-right was advancing and could eventually end up the winner.

Center-left leaders reacted with dismay and disbelief as the polls changed direction, revealing a country split in two after five years of Berlusconi government.


I love Norway

The country was supposed to become poor because it was outside the E.U.. Nope.

The country was supposed to join the E.U.. Nope (three times I think).

Now, the Progress Party is teaching Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Hans Hermann Hoppe to its aspiring candidates. That's the sort of progressives I could vote for!

Singapore tries to ban political blogs


Good news from Japan

The Socialist/Conservative Democratic Party is a shambles.

Bad choices in Hungary

I trained Hungarian politicians in Slovakia back in 1991-1992. I got some insight into the FIDESZ party then. [If I have time someday, I'll put down what happened on the day of the anti-Gorbachev coup-d'état in August 1991.]

Today's election is portrayed as a Socialist/free market alliance versus conservative nationalists.

I really don't have time for a coalition with politicians who were complicit in the Soviet era. However, my guess is that the good guys have lined up with the Socialists, so economically we want them to win.

Expect bad relations with neighbouring countries if FIDESZ wins, especially Romania and Slovakia.

Peru election round-up

Not much time, so here are links.

BBC, and here.

Looks tight.

Other U.S.A. round-up

Matt Stoller's dreaming of a Democrat majority in November over at DD.
French proverb: "Il ne faut pas prendre ses désirs pour des réalités."

Will New Orleans voters kick out their mayor? They should, the guy turned down help to evacuate the city before Hurricane Katrina. I'm not sure if having the exiles vote helps him or not.

OK, My DD predicts a Democrat landslide, and then it reports this.

Electronic voting is not quite worth as much as the paper it is written on, says the former CEO. Trust the government to buy a computer? I don't.

The auditors at the GAO look at military and overseas votes here.

Busy time on the highways between Washington D.C. and New Hampshire and Iowa.

Unless someone can fool youngsters into thinking that Bushitler is up for re-election this, expect them to find something more interesting to do in November.

Michelle Malkin has this on the racist-cops-butted-my-fist-with-their-torsos incident, aka Congresswoman McKinney had another strop. [I think she's a Karl Rove spy, who's job is to undermine Democratic Party press coverage over their excellent policy launch last week. Hope, he's paying you good, lady!]

Heartland Institute Citizen's Guide to Conservative Organisations. If there's a Liberal equivalent, please let me know so I can post it.

Ohio: a congressional election for November has already attracted national Republican campaign spending. This is attack money against a Democrat incumbent. Unless you're bluffing, you don't spend this sort of money this early, unless you think you have a chance of gaining seats.

Tom DeLay: Drama Queen

Tom DeLay's decision on the 4th of April to announce that he will not stand for re-election risks giving Democrats in California a fillip days before a crucial vote.

It may have given DeLay plenty of coverage (the news outlets wanted to cover the story in the run-up to a potential Democrat "anti-corruption" victory in San Diego), but it is stupid party politics. Didn't anyone tell the outgoing Leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives that you make these announcements after the polls have closed, preferably during the holidays when most of the reporters are on skiing resorts or whatever?

Hint: doing what your political opponents want you to do, when they want you to do it, is probably bad.

Good riddance, if this is an example of DeLay's strategy.

CA-50 special election news

My final verdict: low turnout, Democrats might squeak 50%. High turnout, wait for the run-off on Tuesday June 6. (And no, I haven't a clue who the top Republican will be.)

With 48 hours to go, the Democrats are talking up their chances of winning the San Diego County election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

I've written about this previously, here and here.

In addition to whipping up enthusiasm, Daily Kos and others have been taking on the Republican candidates, and with some success.

The amount of money raised is unusual, according to Federal Election Commission returns. But I'd say all sides should throw everything at this. If the Democrats can win, they can boast an "anti-corruption crusade" and try to carry this into the November elections. If the Republicans hold on, it will help with the recent jitters. (Frankly I consider Tom DeLay a vastly over-rated party strategist if he thinks standing down within a week of this election is a clever move. The correct decision was to either go last November, or hang on until later this week. Sorry, but for all the money in U.S. elective politics, I'm seriously under-impressed with the strategic thinking, on both sides.)

The money becomes the issue.

How to lose the next election

The U.K.'s Labour Party is trying to lose the next election.

Someone needs to grow up, I think.

Every little helps

With negotiations on-going to form a government in Israel, I guess this is helpful.

Final count [adapted from BBC]:
1. Kadima: 29 seats, "centrist"
2. Labour: 20 seats, centre-left
Possible partners
3. Shas: 12 seats, ultra-Orthodox
4. Pensioners: 7 seats, single-issue
5. Torah Judaism: 6 seats, ultra-Orthodox
6. Meretz: 5 seats, left-wing
Unlikely partners:
7. Israel Beitenu: 11 seats, Russian emigres, far-right
8. Likud: 12 seats, right-wing
9. Arab parties: 9 seats
10. National Union/Religious: 9 seats, far-right, settlers

Majority: 61.

Zapatero loves Apartheid!

So much for Spanish Socialists being in favour of democracy and against racism: they want to prevent people living in Gibraltar from voting in the U.K.'s European elections on the grounds that they are from Pakistan, Nigeria or India.

Note: the U.K. allows citizens from all Commonwealth countries the right to vote in U.K. elections. Gibraltar is part of the South West England constituency, so the Spanish/E.U. ruling would create an apartheid electoral system based on race in part of the U.K.. I'd love to see how advocating that fits in with anti-racism laws.

Let's hear it now: "Zapatero loves Apartheid!"

Close in Italy: a shame they can't both lose

If the foreign commentators had anything to do with it, Italy's election today and tomorrow would be a shoo-in for the Socialist-Communist-fellow-traveller coalition. Silvio Berlusconi was taken ill during the long campaign and the almost universal view is that he came off worst in all the television debates. In Sicily, he was denounced as an unwitting tool of the Mafia, elsewhere he was described as a crook, a loon and an American stooge.

Berlusconi also upset his opponents when he suggested that Italians aren't big enough "pricks" to vote Socialist.

And yet the man may win.

To the extent that a Berlusconi triumph will put all the people in London, who swallowed the wasp over George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, into a hissy-fit, I'm hoping for the narrowest win possible. But I'm not expecting it.

If Berlusconi wins, it will be because he's had some luck in the last few days.
1) Abdul Rahman. The report in Le Figaro [in French here] rightly call the issue a "blessing" for Mr Berlusconi. The Christian vote may be less than a majority, but it is hard to imagine what Mr Berlusconi could have done to shore up the church-going vote at cheaper cost. What are the leftists supposed to do? Not much it seems.

2) Abortion. These days the abortion-haters and the abortion-lovers are both minorities. But the pro-abortion types either voted left-wing already, or can't be bothered to vote (it's not cool). Net effect, condemning the excesses of abortion pays off for a non-leftist party.

3) Berlusconi=global player vs. Prodi=euro-fixer. I know people who voted against John Major in 1997 because his haircut was rubbish compared with Tony Blair's. The man knows how to dress and how to sit next to the U.S. President without looking out of place. If style loses votes, Mr Romano Prodi is doomed.

4) An attempt to "do a Madrid" was foiled by the Italian security forces. I've seen very little coverage of this incident. But it is hard imagine how it helps the left to be the party Al Quaeda wants to win.

On the other hand, Mr Berlusconi is facing another round of investigations over criminal activities (although nothing serious enough for the British Labour Party to refuse taking money for or worry about connecting with).

His support among business leaders is not as solid as it was. Italian expatriates get to vote for the first time, my guess is they're more likely to be moralistic about corruption and pro-E.U.. Anyway, if its a contest between left-wing ballot-rigging and right-wing ballot-stuffing, my money's on the labour unions.

We know which way the U.S. Democratic left is leaning: weird how they 1) deny that they are fellow-travellers of Communism, 2) support a coalition that includes Communists, at every turn (Italy, before that Cambodia, Chile, Cuba, Spain, Venzuela, Vietnam). Sounds like Gulag-denial to me.

For the record. I do not advocate a vote for Forza Italia, it includes some very unsavoury people. "It's a shame they can't both lose."

Big week

Elections today in Hungary and Peru.

Monday: two days of voting in Italy end.

Tuesday: special election in San Diego, California for the 50th Congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

All of these elections are forecast to be close, with the Californian election a race for Democrat Party candidate Francine Busby to get the 50% of the total vote in order to avoid a run-off against the highest-scoring of 14 Republican contenders, where she would normally be expected to lose.

And last week we had the first election in Kuwait that allowed women voters.

Action posted today from Norway, the U.S.A., Israel, Gibraltar, the U.K., Japan and Singapore. Afghanistan gets a mention.

And today is Liberation Day in Iraq.


Sickness and health

I've had to slow down on the postings for the past few days, what with the Chris Tame funeral, my going down with gastric 'flu and the domestic upheavals involved.

However, tonight I shall be visiting Brian Micklethwait where we shall experiment with poscasting. Being absolute newbies I have no idea if, how long, or even on which site the result will appear.

I intend to cover last week's Israeli elections and next Tuesday's special election in California's 50th congressional district (San Diego county).

UPDATE. The recording went well. We covered Israel and Thailand but didn't touch on California's election. We're working on keeping the format tight so that podcasts don't last longer than 15-20 minutes. Though the more I think about it probably 5-10 minutes is better.


These guys lose money when they're wrong

Tradesports is a gambling website. I've never placed a bet there, but I often look them up when assessing who's going to win an election. Unlike pollsters, the bookies lose when they get their spread betting odds wrong.

As of tonight, here's what they have to say about the Senate elections in November. Of the 33 Senate seats up for election, 25 are safe for the incumbent party. If we assume the Democrats hold all their narrow leads, win all their narrow leads, and take the ones where the Republicans have a reasonable but not overwhelming lead, and they get Vermont (independent), we get the following result.

Democrats 50
Republicans 50

So the Republicans would hold on by the Vice-President's casting vote. This isn't going to happen. For a start, I expect some of the races currently rated as safe to become closer. The bookies think the overall chances of the Republicans holding on are over 75%.

For the House of Representatives there is only a global bet on offer: here the Republicans are trading at about 56.5%.

For the governors' elections we find four Democrat gains and four close calls, all Republican held. If they all went Democrat we get:
Democrats 30
Republicans 20

Now that's more interesting. Same reservations as for Senators, of course.
I haven't yet made my mind up about these election races.

Get down to San Diego!

I wrote about the Congressional Election in the 50 district of California here some time ago.
Unusually for a two-round election, in California the leading candidates of all the parties in the first round go through to the second round, instead of the more commonly used method of taking the top two candidates only.

So far, so good for Republicans. The problem lies in the announcement this week that Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has resigned his seat in Congress following his guilty plea on charges of bribery, tax evasion, mail fraud and wire fraud. He was first elected to Congress in 1990 and was serving his eighth term as a member of the House of Representatives. The Congressional seat in question is the 50th district of California, which covers the County of San Diego.

As these elections returns show from 2004, there is a sizeable Democratic vote in San Diego. If one in five Republican voters stays at home in disgust with "Duke's" ethical performance, the Democrats have a chance of picking up a seat they would otherwise not really compete for. In 2004, the presidential election would tend to have encouraged Republicans to come out and vote, whilst the comparative safety of California as a Democrat stronghold (in presidential elections at least) might have made some of their voters complacent.

Normally, I'd say that a campaign push by the Governor or even the President would be useful. However, apart from helping with fundraisers, neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nor President George W. Bush would necessarily be a positive influence on this election. The recent presidential effort in Virginia for instance did raise a lot of money but failed to change the outcome. In fact, even hosting lavish fundraisers might cause a problem, given the circumstances in which this election has been provoked.

I think this is exactly the sort of election the Democrats have to take seriously.

It may be that the Republicans will hold this seat, but the least you can say is that Francine Busby is giving them a tough time. Only caveat, Governor Schwarzenegger's poll scores seem to have picked up a little.

Instead of dreaming about indicting yesterday's opponents or boasting of implausible electoral successes more than 200 days from now, if I were in the U.S., I'd be on the battle bus to San Diego, whichever side I was on.

Here's the message I'd be putting out if I was working the Democratic National Committee:
At this time, I still think it would be wildly optimistic for the Democrats to win control of either chamber in Congress. But if they keep holding their Governorships, and pick away at the Republican lead in the House of Representatives, they may hang on until 2008, when the Republicans will be defending large numbers of Senate seats, and they have as yet no clear cut presidential candidate.

The case for North Korea or have you seen those voting machines work?

First, I want you to imagine the worst experience you've ever had with computers.
- your bankcard got swallowed because the keypad on the cash machine had a dodgy button, which repeated the number "5" twice when you pressed it once;
- you rang to pay a bill and the transaction failed because the guys on the other end's computer system was down;
- your internet connection broke down for a month;
- you sat at work for hours waiting to find out if the work you were doing was destroyed when someone messed around with a server;
- your identity was stolen, or the police thought you were the dangerous child killer that jumped bail.

Then, consider this report about British government websites. I could have picked any number of this, but this one was the first one I saw today.

Is it really surprising that this and this happen?

All the election law you'll ever need:
1. Print a piece of paper. List the candidates in alphabetical order. Give voters a pencil and ask them to mark a "X" next to the candidate they want. Sort them by hand in front of scrutineers from all the parties. Count first by hand. Bundle papers into batches of 50. Two people check each batch to see that no votes in the wrong pile. Then run through a machine like banks use for counting banknotes. If there's a discrepancy re-check twice. Automatic recount if a candidate reuests it when the gap is narrow (to win, for a place, or to hold a deposit or secure automatic registration next time).

2. Don't start counting until all polling stations have closed. That means Alaska in the USA, too bad for New Hampshire. Don't allow exit polling if the results are going to be broadcast before all polling stations close. Again that means Alaska in the USA, too bad for whichever party thinks it got the women's vote out on the East coast. Don't allow postal ballots after polling day, unless there's a postal strike. Some post offices are lazy about enforcing wrongly dated franked envelopes, or they smudge. Tough.

3. Don't allow anyone to vote outside their voting area, expect by post. Don't allow anyone to register after the election has been called (say at least a month before the vote). Don't change the voting qualification, or the allocation of electoral college votes, or the location of polling stations (barring natural catastrophe)less than a year before an election.

That's it. Any fraud will be easier to spot, and the public will have better grounds for trusting the mechanics of the election.

Italian election: Berlusconi says no multiculturalism, Pope says no secularism

I'm not sure if these ploys will work. If I was trying to get out the secular anti-theocratic vote, I'd want these two press reports (in French).

In brief, Berlusconi having attacked Socialism and Communism as twin mass-murdering ideologies has lumped in multiculturalism as destroying the fabric of Italian society. There are two problems with this argument if it is true. 1) the people who understand are against you already. 2) if it's true, why are you giving another 200,000 passports to illegal immigrants?

As for the Pope, given the realistic choice of Islamic theocracy and secularism, one gets the feeling that he prefers the former. Can't see how that helps Christian democratic politicians.

On a more cheerful note, Berlusconi is frightening currency traders with his rants against the euro.

My mid-term election forecast: no change of control in Congress

A lot can happen between now and polling day, November 7 (222 days away).

If nothing major happened on the international scene to harm the U.S. President's standing even more than it is now, I forecast the following:

House of Representatives: no change of control
Senate: no change of control

Because Democrats persist in talking up their chances, and here, the expected no change is going to look like a huge victory for Republicans. It's all about managing expectations.

The Illinois 6th Congressional District is a case in point. The recent primary election saw the Democratic Party's establishment candidate win with 44% support against a fringe of unfancied chancers. Even diehard Democrats are worried that against a well-funded Republican campaign, it will be harder for their woman to get through. Over at Daily Kos, there are no worries.

Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, what I would have thought was a completely lost cause for Republicans apparently isn't: Arnold Schwarzenegger is at least competitive if not ahead in the Governor's race in California. If Democrats can't win back California, they don't seem too likely to hold onto Iowa, Michigan or Pennsylvania.

With this kind of bad publicity always liable to pop up at the wrong moment, opinion polls that seem incapable of getting a proper population sample, any Democrat poll lead of under ten percent nationally can be routinely ignored at this stage, as can any poll referring to the President, for reasons I've gone into here.

This Daily Kos report from Nebraska and this one (Congressional Quarterly) from Michigan speak volumes about how individual campaigns are going to be turned on local candidates and money.


Kadima, Likud not so good

Exit polls average here.

This BBC page listing the Israeli political parties is useful.

The breakthrough has come from the Russian secular party:
Israel Beitenu (Israel is Our Home) has a constituency among the overwhelmingly secular, largely unassimilated and generally hawkish Russian-speaking population.

It used to operate as part of the National Union, but split over the latter's brief role in one of Mr Sharon's coalitions and has decided to contest these elections separately.

Its programme differs from that of the National Union in that it has been prepared since 2005 to consider the transfer of parts of Israel with large Arab populations to the Palestinian Authority in return for Israeli annexation of large parts of the occupied territories.

It has concentrated in the election campaign on consolidating its Russian-speaking constituency.

Current projection:
Kadima 29-31
Labor 19-22
Big mover Israel at Home 12-14
Likud 10-12

Israeli election: live broadcast and forecast

The Jerusalem Post has video broadcasts today of the election.

The main action will start at 8pm local time (6pm GMT or 1pm EST). With Europe having moved to Summer Daylight Saving Time this week, you may need to check an hour earlier.

Forecast: low turnout expected so the best organized political party wins. I therefore expect Kadima to do slightly worse than expected and Likud to do better. Labour is tricky, because the candidate will alienate many traditional middle-class voters, on the other hand a trade-union backed candidate could do well in a low turnout.

If Kadima gets 37 seats, that's a good result.
If Likud gets more than 14, that's a good result.
If Labour gets more than 20, that's a good result.
That leaves 49 for the other parties. The Green Leaf Party, campaigning for cannabis legalisation, could win a seat.


Easy guess for Paris

OK, so it wasn't the greatest bit of political divining ever: all her opponents pulled out so XVIIth arrondissement mayor Françoise de Panafieu will take on Socialist Bernard Delanoë, in 2007 or 2008, depending on whether the election law changes in time.

My guess is she loses.

Israeli election: my background assessment

The Israeli moderates won't rule out killing the Palestinian Prime Minister designate: Hamas's Ismael Haniya.

What would the "extremists" do, let him live?

I get the feeling that the Kadima is moderate is lazy reporting. They've got people from both Labour and Likud therefore they're in the middle. The truth is that Kadima seems to offer a unilateral settlement to the Palestinian question. Palestinians are basically going to be stuck behind a wall which excludes them from territories that they want back and Kadima is simply going to ignore them. This report in Le Figaro gives details.

As far as I can see this is the same policy that was being denounced six months ago by the European press as "extremist".

Here's a report from the Times that seems to back me up. The Palestinians are going to go ape.

The Guardian has a thorough report, by Linda Grant that includes a heartfelt summary of the Kadima programme:
"I don't give a shit what the Palestinians don't want. I don't think anything will ever be acceptable to them and I received that message with the results of the last Palestinian elections [in which Hamas were elected]."
Kadima supporter, former Labour

The opinion polls are meaningless. We're talking the most stupid form of proportional representation ever designed for a country. You basically get half the votes and a quarter of the seats.

Kadima may "win" and end up with half the seats needed to form a majority in the Knesset. See what I mean?

UNICEF takes sides in Mexico's election

I've been waiting for someone to react to this disgraceful attempt by UNICEF to interfere in Mexico's presidential elections on July 2 this year.

Here's the UNICEF slogan:
If your candidate doesn't know how to improve education, elect another candidate. Cast a vote for education!

If UNICEF's model for education was not collectivist, it would still be a disgrace. But the global agency effectively wants all private schools abolished, all children to be forced to attend state run indoctrination centres, and parents to have as little choice as possible (forget about home-schooling).

UNICEF is blatantly pushing a socialist agenda in Mexico, the only plausible aim being to swing voters into backing the more socialist candidates. Who pays for this?


Election news around the world

Uzbeckistan's opposition leader faces jail for his success. The U.S.A. - allegedly - wants democracy in the region. So the U.S. is backing - tyranny. Confusing message, someone?

Thailand's prime minister calls a snap election. He is the target of a concerted street protest campaign to remove him. Luckily for Liverpool Football Club, Thakin Shinawatra didn't get to become the majority shareholder in the club last year.

Sivino Berlusconi thinks sitting next to George W. Bush will make him look good in the Italian elections. Not sure about this for several reasons. There is historically a strong pro-American vote in Italy, so maybe this could appeal to non-political Italians. If there are any.

The U.S. Republicans start to catch up the massive Democrat fundraising efforts of 2005. Later figures confirm this trend.

Ban on professional canvassers collecting signatures for election candidates. Looks like an attempt to do me out of a career! ;-)

South Dakota passes an abortion ban, designed to test the Supreme Court.

Fraud reform in the U.S.A. It's a partisan issue, which means the people solving the problem are the people causing it. Not a pretty sight.

US Democrat comments, rants and intelligent thoughts on the elections this year

This is a monster of a long post from MyDD [Heh, who's talking!] about demographics. The more I read it, the less confident I felt about the Democrats. It seems to me that the dissatisfaction with the President is emotive, but not likely to carry over to his Republican successor.

Hillary Clinton has problems from the left and the right, it seems.

Incoherent with indignation about the South Dakota law outlawing abortion. It's called moving into your enemy's 'killing ground'. I don't advise it.

Eschaton is a really poor Democrat-leaning site for intelligent analysis. The only chance of something good is when they stumble on something like this, and miss the point completely. States (and cities) with massive abortion rates and high taxes (and crime) are not going to see their voting populations grow. Which is why it's smart long-term politics to oppose abortion, high taxes and support vigorous anti-crime measures. (Whether these are the right thing to do is another matter is another point.) Roll the clock forward thirty years and the Democrats as we know them today will no longer exist, unless they change.

At last some sense from MyDD. The governor races. And they twig that winning back California would be "the big prize." You bet it would be. However, if you want an indication of the paucity of Democrat talent: no mention of Florida. Jeb Bush is standing down (restricted by term limits) but the state is not seriously in play.

HELLO! Earth to planet MyDD. You're not going to fight Geroge W. Bush again!

There's nothing like a Democrat blowing off steam to the effect that his own party's candidates are "idiots" to provide the opposition with ammunition.

Kos has some info about evolving media techniques. He reckons the Republicans are ahead of the game. That certainly fits with other analysts like Charlie Cook. However, I think it has more to do with having a less wishful thinking approach to politics. The GOP doesn't assume that churchgoers will vote for them, in the way that Democrats assume that Latinos will vote for them. And they don't publically insult those who act different from their prejudices. If I were a Black American, and I'd studied history and electoral politics, I might not be a Republican, but I sure wouldn't allow a party that boasts a former Ku Klux Klan officer in the U.S. Senate tell me I belong to them.

New Hampshire 2nd Congressional District: if the Democrats can't win here, they won't win back the House of Representatives.

Obsessing about the guy they lost to last time, again.
February forecast from MyDD.

My DD has a revelation: opinion polls overstate Democrat support. They might not be winning the House of Representatives after all this November.


Service interruption

I'm having hardware/software problems right now, so the posting is erratic at the moment.

Chris Tame, a long-standing comrade has just died. Here's the Technorati buzz. Here's what I wrote, and here's the Independent obituary.

He opposed Libertarians contesting elections, especially in the British context, taking the view that they would waste time on personality clashes, trim their views in the search for votes, and they wouldn't get many anyhow.


World round-up

China: Where does the Vatican find them? After the wonderfully named Cardinal Sin of the Philippines, Cardinal Zen has been sent by Pope Benedict XVI to spread the good word in Hong Kong. The Communist régime is not amused. How un-zen!

Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire): From the BBC:
The date of the Democratic Republic of Congo's first multi-party elections for more than 40 years has been postponed until June - a two-month delay.
President Joseph Kabila still needs to give his approval to the date.
The electoral commission says the first round of voting will be on 18 June and a second round if needed would take place after the end of June.

Egypt: Condoleeza Rice offers support to Egyptian liberals as a signal to President Mubarrak to allow more opposition.

Italy: Drag-queen candidate Vladimir Luxuria blames "homophobia" for lack of support. The fact that the Times reports her as: "Signora Luxuria is standing for the Refounded Communists." So let me see, she's an apologist for the slaughter of over 100 million people, but she thinks she has an image problem?

Kazakhstan: Currently most attention is focussing on outbreak of avian influenza. However this report of skullduggery and opposition agitation are worth keeping an eye on.

Nigeria: Nigerians seem to like term limits. Seems like an improvement on president for life, or "until the junta decides to change."

Philippines: Speaking of Cardinal Sin (see Cardinal Zen above), another throw-back to exciting times, an attempted coup d'état against president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. More in English here and here. State of emergency declared here. More in French here. State of emergency called off.


Iain Dale

I've added Iain Dale to my sidebar.

I admit that I did so more because of his involvement in one of my favorite London bookshops Politico's, which has gone digital.

I'm less Tory than Guido Fawkes or Iain, so I guess I'll have to start linking to other political sites in the U.K..

My guess right now: fighting the wrong enemy

My guess as to how things will pan out in the U.S. mid-term election this November, has been expressed almost verbatim by John Hinderaker on Power Line.

But I wouldn't be shocked if the Republicans didn't lose any seats at all. Republican candidates generally outperform polls, for a variety of reasons, and they have one ace in the hole: they get to run against Democrats. I don't detect any great ground swell in the electorate for a return to Democratic rule.

The main reason I'm not getting excited by opinion polls right now is that they reflect the popularity of George W. Bush. But someone needs to let the Democrats know that he's not their opponent and never will be again. They've lost every election they're going to lose to him. They will never beat him again in an election. I think the expression is "Move On." The war against Bush is over. They're a bit like old British army generals in 1914, who couldn't quite get used to the notion that they were supposed to be fighting Germans this time, not Russians or the French.

"Jews made Hamas win!"

A political party that breaks away from Likud and promises to pull out of parts of the West Bank is moderate, right?

Well, not straightforwardly. Ehud Olmert, Kadima's acting leader has apprently authorized the expansion of a settlement in the West Bank, is pushing ahead with the "security wall", and has publicly suggested assassinating Ismael Haniya, the new Palestinian premier. If Ariel Sharon wakes up from his coma, I find the notion of the man who drove tanks across Egypt, was involved in the massacre of Palestinians in the Lebanon in 1982, and who's staged visit to the Temple on the Rock in Jerusalem in was the provocation for the second Intifada as a "moderate" as somewhat bizarre.
So if Mr Levi opposes the security barrier, doesn't agree with assassinating the Palestinian prime minister, agrees to the pull out of some settlements, but thinks the Israeli Labour Party are rotten economic managers, so he votes Likud, that makes him an extremist compared with Mr Olmert?

Here's a fine piece of Middle-East analysis: the Jews made Hamas win to force them to either compromise or cause the collapse of the Palestinian Authority when the U.S.A. and the E.U. stopped subsidizing the P.A..

If Hamas really believed this, they'd disband and stop playing the Jewish stooges.

[Hat tip: Al Jazeera-News]


Sinn Fein campaigning with the Rev Dr Ian Paisley?

I can't work out who runs the site below and the permalinks are poor, so I've cut and pasted a day's postings. If the information is true, the EU referendum campaign in Northern Ireland could be very amusing. Basically only the Ulster Unionists and maybe the SDLP would be in favour. All the parties linked to paramilitaries would be against. Any chance the European Commission could come and canvass door-to-door? :-)

One way of bridging the sectarian divide. And some people can't see any good coming of a referendum!

March 13th, 2006

Sinn Fein offers ‘British spy bug’ for sale (Reuters)
Reuters - The Irish Republican party Sinn Fein has put up for auction on the Internet what it says is a bugging device used by Britain to spy on one of its offices.

Ex-policeman standing for Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein has selected a former police officer to stand in the next Westminster elections, it emerged tonight.

Sinn Fein in Number 10 discussion
The Sinn Fein leadership attends a meeting in Downing Street amid speculation over an imminent IRA statement.

Sinn Fein member out of election
A Sinn Fein member who was in a Belfast bar on the night father-of-two Robert McCartney was murdered will not contest the local government elections, it emerged tonight.

Posted in Fein | No Comments »
March 13th, 2006

Homes of Sinn Fein members attacked - McLaughlin
The home of Gerry Adams and others belonging to Sinn Fein members in west Belfast were targeted in ball bearing attacks, the party claimed today.

Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein is Ireland’s fastest-growing political movement. Irish Republicans work for lasting peace and justice in Ireland with sustainable social and economic development, genuine democracy, participation, equality and justice for all. … Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, Vice President Pat Doherty MP and party supporters accompany Sinn Féin’s …

Sinn Fein expels top member, says he spied
BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Sinn Fein expelled a prominent party member Friday and accused him of spying for Britain, a strange twist in a scandal that wrecked Northern Ireland’s power-sharing administration.

Sinn Fein reinstates suspended members
Sinn Fein has reinstated five of the 12 party members who were suspended in the wake of the Robert McCartney murder in Belfast.

Sinn Fein launches referendum campaign
Sinn Fein launches it capaign against the proposed EU constitution and sets out 13 clear resons why it is not in the interests of the people of Ireland

Check out also the reference to "Sinn Fein reinstates suspended members
Sinn Fein has reinstated five of the 12 party members who were suspended in the wake of the Robert McCartney murder in Belfast." Were these the people the IRA offered to shoot?

From Wikipedia:
On March 8 the IRA issued an unprecedented statement saying that they had made an offer to McCartney's family to shoot the members involved in the murder. The family made it clear that they wanted the people concerned prosecuted, not physically harmed.


Polling numbers

George W Bush's approval ratings are analysed here.

For a light-hearted view of U.S. opinion polls outside election time try texasrainmaker.


Weekly round up Sunday 26 February

I've met Pierre Lellouche (who's name ironically translates as "the shifty Peter" or "cross-eyed Pete"!), I reckon he's probably a good candidate. However, I gather the primaries for the Paris mayoral elections are likely to go to Françoise de Panafieu, a good aristocratic name! She's the former mayor of the arrondissement in Paris I lived in during 2001, the XVIIème. It seemed well run. Maybe she's the one to take on Bertrand Delanöe.

Meanwhile, London's Mayor is in Holocaust denial mode: at least he denies that making Nazi jibes to a Jewish reporter is antisemitic. Ken Livingstone got all those votes for being a nice politically correct anti-establishment type. It turns out he has the same political opinions as Colonel Blimp.

The bit of the puppet show where all sides start hitting the election official. I can think of more countries than Haiti where this story deserves to happen.

No mention of Justice Souter's home being targeted by campaigners (the source is the New York Times), but it's an interesting report nonetheless about the backlash across the U.S.A. about "eminent domain" the practice of nationalizing land under the pretext (not always real) of an overriding public interest, such as building a dam, an airport, or a friend's property development.

Uganda's election was predictable. Voting was on tribal lines.
The official line is that "there was no intimidation or cheating, and anyway the opposition are terrorists who deserve it," (or words to that effect). Apart from this. And this. The problem being that I doubt if either side would have been squeaky clean if they had the upper hand. And who can blame them! You lose the election and you're liable to get killed and tens of thousands of your people could be driven out of the country or massacred. Who wouldn't stuff ballot boxes with those stakes? You'd almost have to have a criminal lack of responsibility for your own people to not make sure of victory by all means available.

Officials results here.
I've said it before:

Syria's stooge in the Lebanon accuses French President Jacques Chirac of trying to cause his overthrow [in French]. If they take out contracts on each other, it's a win-win.

I never realised that Chirac had such support in "the Arab street".

Jonathan Singer on MyDD tries to get the point across to his readers that the U.S. Supreme Court is in danger of becoming an entrenched Conservative institution for the next decade or so. He's right to be worried. The ages of the existing Supreme Court justices are such that the next two most likely to retire are both liberals.

As one bitter American conservative told me recently about the U.S. President: "[George W.] Bush may be a shit on spending and welfare reform, but if he puts three conservatives on the Supreme Court, he'll have done alright."

Well what do you know?
Venezuela's Socialist leader, who tried to take power in a coup d'état before winning elections with physical intimidation, wants to abolish term limits. As Hugo Chavez is already rigging votes, he doesn't need to abolish elections.


A little disruption as Election Watch nears 5k hits

Over the week-end, I'm shifting my news feeds from Newsgator to Bloglines. I've found Newsgator to be on the slow side, and I didn't like the way some of its functions worked. Although I don't yet know about Bloglines' special features, it seems to run a lot faster, and anecdotally it seems to update faster too.

Meanwhile, the hit counter tells me that this blog is nearing the 5,000 hits mark (which isn't exactly going to get the Instapundit or Daily Kos quaking in their boots), but hey, I can't do postings during the daytime becuase I'm in an office that has the world's second oldest running Mac (the oldest is upstairs, being used by one of the city boys, I think he gets mine if I get the sack). I also haven't figure how to do subject sections on this blog. Also Brian Micklethwait is plotting to start a podcasting project and he wants me to do the "talking head" stuff on elections.

This weekend, I shall also be looking to improve the blogroll and I am aware that there are typos and broken links.

Finally, Sunday is weekly round-up day.

Update: Just made the 5,000! (23:16)


The candidate couldn't find 50 voters in his own district

Here's an outrageous example of the amateurish U.S. electoral system in action, from the State of Ohio. Don't expect the Bush haters to jump up and down, because this one involves a grotesque performance by a Democrat candidate's campaign. In fairness, I gather this sort of thing happens to Libertarian and Republican candidates too.

The story so far: Ohio State Senator Charlie Wilson (not quite the same as a local independent running for office the first time) sent people out to get signatures for his nomination to run for the 6th congressional district of Ohio.

I don't know if he paid people to do this (they do that in the U.S.A., which must seem very weird to any British political activist). If so, he didn't hire the best brains in the business because in one county, they actually gathered more than 70% of the signatures from the wrong district. For British reader, this is like sending people to Chelsea to sign a petition to be elected to Fulham. In fact, State Senator Wilson only needed 50 valid signatures in the Columbiana County, and of the 96 he submitted only 46 were valid. In Scioto County (which I happen to know is pronounced "Siyoda")only 7 out of 24 signatures were valid.

I'm sure it has happened in the U.K. to one of the major political parties, but not without either deliberate fraud (the election agent for a candidate forged the signatures, a practice I've come across a couple of times), or an unusual circumstance like someone died.

Here's a free tip on how to avoid this problem. 1) Buy a copy of the electoral register, costs about $20. 2) Find out from the election office how many signatures needed and from which districts (sometimes the rules insist that you need a few from each of the different areas in the district you're running for election in). Also get three copies of the nomination paper. 3) Gather some friends and supporters and spend a weekend going through the list to identify everyone known in the district, obviously including paid-up members. 4) Call on each of them door-to-door. Turn up with a list of eligible voters at the address and ask everyone there to sign up, there's no good reason why if there's a household with a couple, with a grown up kid or two if you can't get three signed up then. 5) Hand in the three completed nomination forms at the same time, getting a responsible person at the election authority's office to sign a receipt for them (prepare your own, in case they're not ready). If they refuse to give you a receipt, ask if you can be photographed handing the papers in (bet they'll initial your receipt then!). End of story!

Only hire teams of canvassers if they'll sign up for a penalty clause for failing to deliver (I'd say a liability of a couple of million dollars would be fair, and a good incentive for them to do the job right, heck I'd do it now if I was in the U.S.).

I have twice stood as an independent in local elections in the U.K. with no support and managed to get signatures by taking a map, a copy of the voters' register, several pens and the nomination paper. I find that as long as I explain that the voter is merely agreeing that I should be allowed to stand, as opposed to agreeing that they will vote for me, most people are happy to sign up for a non-loon.


Weekly round up Sunday 19 February

You want dirty politics? Try Harvard's board elections! These guys could teach the Borgias a thing or two.

John McCain should beat Hillary Clinton for the U.S. presidency in 2008... if he doesn't get destroyed by us bloggers who are mad at his inept and anti-free speech campaign reforms.... if the conservatives don't get him like in 2000... and if his health holds out. He's trying to fix the second problem right now.

Ghastly though! French sociologists find that a French conservative revolution is underway! Pauvre Monsieur Chirac.

New Democratic Republic Congo (recently called "Zaire") constitution approved.

Israeli acting-prime minister calls the Palestinian Authority "de facto terrorists." I call it electioneering.

OK. Now I believe Rick Santorum has a chance of re-election in Pennsylvania (U.S. Senate, this coming November).

Four presidential candidates for Belarus next month.

This could be a campaign not only against free speech, which last time I looked was guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also is an attempt to interfere in the democratic process, seeing as gambling sites are essential tools for predicting the outcome of elections (I guess the soon-to-be-losers want to keep the spread betters from showing them up). Oh, and it violates the World Trade Organization's rules. China in U.S.A. out?

Silvio Berlusconi hopes to turn the Italian general election into a plebiscite for or against him (according to Le Monde, so they could be wrong).

Failed coup d'état attempt in the Philippines. Of course with presidents winning elections with sometimes less than a quarter of the vote, never mind the electorate, it's actually quite healthy that they don't have more of them.

Endless speculation (ok it just feels that way) about the 2008 U.S. presidential elections. Here and here.

Tokelau says "No" to independence. With only 1,500 people, I imagine that simple things like the cost of having an embassy in New Zealand would have been difficult to manage. Initial report here.

French talk of "primaries" for the 2007 presidential election in France.

Britain's Conservative Party (having sent people to help out John Kerry at the last U.S. presidential election, and having been refused access to George W. Bush last time their leader visited the U.S.A.) wants to mend the rift. Copying social-democratic policies shouldn't work, should it?

Democratic murmurs in Lebanon resume. More here.

Shenanigans in Palestine. First Fatah cancels an election (five years ago). Then they hold an election without even posting the fact on their own government website. Now they change the constitution with outgoing members of the assembly, because they lost. No wonder Hamas looks good!
Meanwhile, jostling to make friends with a former pariah. I wonder what the Hamas definition of a "pragmatist" is?

Nepal's Maoist prove that however nasty my write-up of them last week, they can always make themselves appear more intolerant and wicked. Nepal's king, meanwhile seems determined to play the conciliatory Louis XVI role to the letter. I would not want to be a royal bodyguard!
Royal despotism: political activists killed. Maoist rule: half the population killed or starve. Looks like self-defence to me.

Earth to planet moonbat.

Kadima remains ahead in Israel's election race, despite Ariel Sharon's coma. I can only say this does not bode well for Israel's future.

Cape Verde held elections last week for their president. Report here. Incomplete returns here. Further report here.

Ibrahim Jaafari to stay as Iraq's Prime Minister.

The New York writes: "Why we're rubbish! We can't even link to a roll-call for the Samuel Alito confirmation votes in the Senate." No comment!

In Haiti, it looks as if foreign governments have decided that the second round vote is unnecessary, an extraordinary intervention without precedent.
Coverage here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In Japan, the rules of succession for the Emperor restricting eligibility to males is being maintained (for now) as the government says it will wait and see what the latest imperial family pregnancy produces.