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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Australian Federal Election, 2016 on: April 21, 2016, 07:37:34 pm
Hi.  Someone will have to explain how the Senate elections work in Australia.  It seems they are for 6 year terms with half each up every 3 years.  But it seems that every-time there is a general election for the House half the Senate is up for re-election as well.  I get this time it is a double dissolution where everyone in the Senate is up for election.  But traditionally how do they square the fact that it it not clear that every House election occurs every 3 years but the Senate term is 6 years.  I think that the way it works is that every other House election half the Senators are up for re-election.  Did I get that right ?

I imagine that if they were to get out of sync, than the Senate elections would still happen separately.

Yes.  That would make sense and match how they doing things in Japan where there is an Upper House election every 3 years no matter what.  The problem is I cannot find an example of an Australian Senate election being held by itself without involving the House. 

There were three between 1964 and 1970.

There are some complications. A Senate term is supposed to start on 1 July. A half Senate election has to be held no more than one year before the 1 July when the term starts. This can lead to long delays before newly elected Senators take office. Australian Prime Ministers usually have House and half Senate elections on the same day, but the two can get out of sequence so separate elections have to be held.

A double dissolution causes more complications. The notional 3 and 6 year terms resulting from the whole Senate election are calculated from the last 1 July before the election, so the actual terms served are shorter than the notional ones. An extract from Section 13 of the Constitution explains what happens.

For the purpose of this section the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of July following the day of his election, except in the cases of the first election and of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of July preceding the day of his election.
2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: April 21, 2016, 09:53:35 am
Everyone be prepared to laugh at this by-election for the HoL with an electorate of ... Three people.

See how fast democracy has changed the House of Lords, just as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith's ancestor promised. The preamble to the Parliament Act 1911 included these stirring words.

And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation:
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Canada joins the USA as 10 new states and 3 territories on: April 13, 2016, 04:58:34 pm
This North American union is difficult to imagine, as it would reverse the whole of Canadian history.

If the merger was brought about by force, I would have thought that Canada would be like Ireland under British rule. A constant risk of rebellions and terrorist outrages. If anything like democratic elections were permitted, there would be a bloc of Canadian nationalists who would adamantly oppose all American parties (unless they were willing to pay a high price for Canadian support) and be as disruptive as possible in Congress.

Why should the Canadian nationalists not contest Presidential elections? They would represent a significant number of electoral votes, which if the American parties were narrowly divided, could be bartered to decide the outcome of the election. This would be something like the southern Democrats letting the Republicans steal the 1876 Presidential election in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops and a share of the patronage.

What politics would have led up to a consensual merger of Canada into the United States is unimaginable. It would presumably have massively realigned the Canadian party system. Perhaps the dynamic would be like the reunification of Germany, with a political system similar but less predictable than that of pre unification West Germany.
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why Did Hatch and Grassley Switch Chairmanships? on: April 13, 2016, 04:17:16 pm
The Republican conference has a term limits rule, for committee chairmanships. Normally a Senator can only serve six years as ranking minority member/chairman of a particular committee.

The Democratic conference has no such term limit rule.
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Why can't large urban areas be conservative? on: February 19, 2016, 09:38:24 am
When the Roman Empire withdrew from the British Isles in the year 410 it led fairly rapidly to the decay of urban settlements. Even a major city, with an advantageous location like Londinium, could not sustain itself. It was only when Anglo-Saxon Kings began to fortify settlements  that urban life revived on any large scale. Extract from the Wikipedia article on Anglo-Saxon London.

Romano-British Londinium had been abandoned in the late 5th century, although the London Wall remained intact. There was an Anglo-Saxon settlement by the early 7th century, called Lundenwic, about one mile away from Londinium. Lundenwic came under direct Mercian control in about 670. After the death of Offa of Mercia in 796, it was disputed between Mercia and Wessex.

Viking invasions became frequent from the 830s, and a Viking army is believed to have camped in the old Roman walls during the winter of 871. Alfred the Great re-established English control of London in 886, and renewed its fortifications. The old Roman walls were repaired and the defensive ditch was re-cut, and the city now became known as Lundenburh, marking the beginning of the history of the City of London. Sweyn Forkbeard attacked London unsuccessfully in 996 and 1013, but his son Cnut the Great finally gained control of London, and all of England, in 1016.

All of which supports the idea that you need quite a strong degree of social organisation to sustain an urban culture. If that social organisation disappears the cities crumble.

I am not sure that any American would want the degree of mass destruction that would be needed to de-urbanise North America for a few centuries.
6  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Presidential and congressional terms don't start/end the same day on: December 10, 2015, 08:58:47 am
I think the idea was that if Congress had to hold a contingent election for President or Vice President (if the Electoral College had not produced a majority winner), it would be a newly elected Congress rather than one about to expire that performed the task. This may be unlikely to happen, in modern conditions, but it seems a sensible precaution. 
7  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: White South African Vote on: November 16, 2015, 07:59:01 am
I got the impression that just about the whole spectrum of white South African politics, apart from the very far left and right, ended up in the Democratic Alliance. A few of the younger ex National Party politicians joined the ANC at one time but presumably they did not represent a large block of voters.

There seems to be one current white cabinet minister (Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry) who ,from his Wikipedia article, has a Communist as well as an ANC background. I presume that he does not enjoy substantial support in the South African white electorate.
8  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian by-elections, 2015 on: November 12, 2015, 08:27:47 am
British Columbia provincial politics seems to have a strong tendency to produce one hegemonic anti-NDP party at a time, with other alternative anti-NDP parties relegated to irrelevance. This process does not seem to operate at the federal level, perhaps because the federal NDP in BC are not as much of a threat as the provincial NDP who are serious contenders for power.
9  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK local by-elections 2015 on: October 23, 2015, 11:01:05 am
Labour gained 2% in Chandler's Ford. The Corbyn landslide is building.
10  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian federal election - October 19, 2015 (Official Campaign Thread) on: September 29, 2015, 04:30:07 am
I've noticed that it's commonplace for leaders to just switch language in the middle of their sentience, is there some equal language speaking rule?

No, that's common for all bi-lingual politicians in Canada -- especially during debates in the House of Commons.

I have read a biography of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which from memory mentioned that in the 19th century the House of Commons had a rule against switching between the French and English languages in mid-speech. It was with reference to a bi-lingual politician who, after being interrupted, continued his remarks in the other language than the one he had been using previously.
11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: September 19, 2015, 04:39:31 pm
I do not see that a Labour minority government, dependent upon SNP acceptance that a Labour government would be better than a Conservative one, would be impossible.

The British hostility to Irish nationalism, in 1886-1914, was considerably stronger than English antipathy to the SNP. It did not prevent Liberal minority governments being formed in 1892-95 and 1910-14.
12  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: July 31, 2015, 03:19:56 pm
As a brief response to the discussion about land ownership in England, the legal theory which underlies the modern law is that all the land in England is owned by the crown.

The only legal interests in land, which a subject of the crown can have, is an estate. The Law of Property Act 1925 tidied up the law by permitting only two kinds of legal estate. From the first part of the text of the Act.


1 Legal estates and equitable interests.

(1)The only estates in land which are capable of subsisting or of being conveyed or created at law are—
(a)An estate in fee simple absolute in possession;
(b)A term of years absolute.

The two estates are usually referred to as freehold and leasehold respectively. A freehold estate is not in legal theory ownership of the land itself, but for all practical purposes it is treated as if it were. This has been the position for more than seven hundred years.

An extract from the Wikipedia article on fee simple, summarises the historic position.

In English common law, the Crown has radical title or the allodium of all land in England, meaning that it is the ultimate "owner" of all land. However, the Crown can grant ownership in an abstract entity—called an estate in land—which is what is owned rather than the land it represents. The fee simple estate is also called "estate in fee simple" or "fee-simple title", sometimes simply "freehold" in England and Wales. From the start of the Norman period, when feudalism was introduced to England, the tenant or "holder" of a fief could not alienate (sell) it from the possession of his overlord. However, a tenant could separate a parcel of the land and grant it as a subordinate fief to his own sub-tenant, a process known as sub-enfeoffing or "subinfeudation". The 1290 Statute of Quia Emptores abolished subinfeudation and instead allowed the sale of fee simple estates.[2]
13  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian federal election - 2015 on: July 13, 2015, 07:28:59 am
Would Canadians find a situation, like that in 1924 in the UK, where the second largest party forms a minority government and dares the third largest party not to bring it down; more acceptable than a coalition or formal agreement between the second and third largest parties?

The Labour Party strategy in 1924 was to demonstrate they could form a credible government, whilst deliberately refusing to do deals with the Liberals. This had the effect of limiting the ability of that Labour government to do very much legislatively, but cemented Labour's status as one of the two leading parties in future Parliaments. The UK Liberal Party never recovered major party status, although in the form of the Liberal Democrats it continues to exist.

14  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Is there any hope for UK Labor? on: June 14, 2015, 02:12:43 pm
The modern British party political era started in 1922. Since that time there have only been three possible types of UK governments.

1. An anti-Conservative government, consisting of Labour alone or with Labour as the largest component in its support.

2. An anti-Labour administration, consisting of the Conservatives alone or as the largest party supporting it.

3. A ministry supported by both Labour and Conservative politicians (with or without the support of others).

Before 1922 the situation was the same with Liberal substituted for Labour. This demonstrates that the future is not necessarily identical to the past, but that there is enormous inertia built into the system.

Even adopting major electoral reform would not necessarily change the above state of affairs. In New Zealand, after the adoption of mixed member proportional representation (which might well be the type of system which would be adopted in the UK, if a change to the House of Commons electoral system was forced on the major parties), the major change is that Labour or National need to look for allies more often, A government excluding both those parties is very unlikely.

My answer to this thread is that, unless there is a massive change in the voting habits of the people of England of a sort which has only happened once in more than a century, Labour will remain the only possible alternative to the Conservatives in being the core of an anti-Conservative UK government.

The realignment in Scotland was however the sort of event which, if something comparable happened in England, could rearrange the whole UK political system. Scotland and Wales do not have enough seats to squeeze Labour out of its position as the key anti-Conservative party.

However the more Labour cannot rely upon winning seats in some parts of the UK, the more likely it is that it will need support from other parties to construct an anti-Conservative majority.

Ed Milliband's key mistake, in the recent general election, was not taking on the Tory attempts to de-legitimise the idea of a Labour minority government backed by the SNP. Labour will have problems forming a government until it finds a way to work with the SNP, without frightening the few percent of the English electorate who listened to the Tory fear campaign.
15  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canada vs. USA Multiparty Systems on: June 04, 2015, 10:23:59 am
The traditional explanation for the US two party system, is that because of the importance of winning the Presidency  there is strong pressure for politicians to group into two parties so they have a maximum chance of benefiting from Presidential power and patronage.

There may be some basis for the argument, but a strong Presidency is not incompatible with a multi party system. The French manage with a centre-right bloc of parties and a centre-left bloc. However the far right is also quite electorally successful and they usually operate independently of the bloc system.

Brazil seems to have a multi party system where there are shifting alliances from election to election and from state to state in the same election.

The United States two party system depends upon historical factors. It is not the only possible configuration of political forces. For example, if the Republicans had rejected the southern strategy in the 1960s and after, George Wallace and similar politicians might have created an enduring southern regional party which could reliably control a number of states. They might often have held the balance of power in Congress and the Electoral College, so that they could negotiate deals with the other parties. This might have been a better way to maximise the political influence of southern whites compared to becoming almost entirely associated with one of the national parties.
16  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 28, 2015, 12:27:35 pm
But as a more serious point, I will reiterate that the main electoral impact of larger seats with tighter quotas would be to a) greatly increase the impact of national swing while also b) reducing the power of incumbency.

So in effect each seat will have around 75,000 electors compared to 70,000 at present.

What's the main reason for reducing the number of MP's from 650 to 600?

Extracts from the Conservative Party manifesto 2010.

A new agenda for a new politics
The Conservative Party has led the way in sorting out the mess of MPs’ expenses. In government
we will go further, by cutting the size of Parliament, cutting the scope of Whitehall, and cutting
the cost of politics. We will make politics more local, more transparent and more accountable.
We intend to build a new political system that serves people rather than politicians. Together,
we can change our politics for the better.

But that is just the start. We will also cut
Ministers’ pay and reduce the number of
MPs in Parliament.

Labour have meddled shamelessly with
the electoral system to try to gain political
advantage. A Conservative government will
ensure every vote will have equal value by
introducing ‘fair vote’ reforms to equalise the
size of constituency electorates, and conduct a
boundary review to implement these changes
within five years. We will swiftly implement
individual voter registration, giving everyone
the right to cast their vote in person and making
it easier for UK citizens living overseas to vote.

17  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 27, 2015, 04:46:00 pm
Just read this on Electoral Calculus:

New Boundary Estimates: Conservative Majority of 50

There has been recent interest in the likely effect of new boundaries which may be brought in under this parliament. Electoral Calculus prepared a full set of notional implied results under the 600-seat "Sixth Periodic review" of boundaries which was conducted around 2013.

Although these boundaries were not used in 2015, they can still give a good approximation of the likely effect of the boundary changes. If we use the actual election result (adjusted slightly to compensate for model deficiencies) and feed it into the user-defined predictor, then we can see the effect of the boundaries.

Using these figures and the old boundaries gives CON 331, LAB 232, LIB 9, UKIP 1, Green 1, SNP 55, and Plaid 3, which is almost exactly correct. Then when we switch to the proposed 2013 boundaries we get

325   202   5   49   3   16

This gives the Conservatives a majority of 50 seats, well ahead of their current majority of 12. This is equivalent of nearly another twenty seats for the Conservatives.

Without any change to legislation, the Sixth Review should restart this year for completion in 2018. It looks unlikely that the Conservative government would want to slow this process down.

How likely is this new 600 seat house of commons coming to fruition in time for the next general election?

Unless Parliament amends the rules that the boundary commissions work to, the next Parliament will have 600 MPs elected on changed boundaries.

If there had been a hung Parliament then Parliament would almost certainly have amended the law, probably to retain 650 seats and give a larger degree of discretion than the plus or minus five percent permitted variance in the average size of electorate now permitted. However a Conservative majority has no particular reason to legislate further and has not proposed to do so in today's Queens speech.

That means that a new boundary review will start in Spring 2016 and that it is due to be reported in 2018. Parliament could, in theory, refuse to accept the implementation of the review. This is what happened in 1969, when the Labour government put a set of boundary changes before Parliament and whipped their MPs to reject them (delaying implementation until 1974 after a Conservative majority House revisited the issue after the 1970 general election). As present law requires a new review in each five year period, an adverse vote would kill the next set of proposals but it seems unlikely that the Tories will not get their way.

The Boundary Commission for England has indicated its current plans.

A new law in 2011 set the timing of reviews of all constituencies to take place at fixed five year intervals, whilst also removing the ability of the Commission to undertake interim reviews. Although the first review under these new arrangements began in early 2011, Parliament postponed that review in 2013 for five years.

The Commission currently plans to formally begin working on the next review in the spring of 2016, with the intention of submitting its final recommendations to government by the early autumn of 2018, as required by the legislation.

The only bit of electoral legislation mentioned in the Queen's speech has studiously ignored a select committee report about changing the boundary review legislation.

Votes for Life Bill
The purpose of the Bill is to:
• Scrap the current 15 year time limit on the voting rights of British citizens living
overseas for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections, including
provisions relating to the registration of overseas electors.
18  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 15, 2015, 05:30:41 am
If the Labour Party elects a guy called Tristram as leader they should disband immediately.

e: Suggesting we refer to withdrawals as "a reverse Farage".

It is even worse, as the son of a life peer  he has the courtesy title of The Honourable Tristram Hunt. It sounds like one of Bertie Wooster's chums from the Drones Club.

No doubt all this is superficial and Mr Hunt is just as qualified as anyone else who stumbled in to a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
19  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Liberal Democrat leadership election, 2015 on: May 13, 2015, 03:36:06 pm
Maybe they should drop the 'Liberal' and become 'The Democrats'. Would allow them to reinvent themselves in more ways.
So they'd be "Literal Democrats"?

When the Liberal Party and the SDP merged they were officially the Social and Liberal Democrats (the acronym for Liberal and Social Democrats being considered unwise). They originally tried using the Democrats as a short name. It was tried out in a by-election but the electorate did not understand who they were. The short name Liberal Democrats was then adopted and eventually became the official name of the party.

For better or for ill liberal has been a word used to describe the party and its predecessors for almost two hundred years. To abandon the word probably would kill the party.
20  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 (The Official Election Day & Results Thread) on: May 12, 2015, 08:49:49 am
Can anyone tell me what the point is of voting for the Speaker seeking reelection, if that person never takes a position on any substantive issue? It effectively disenfranchises the entire constituency.

The theory is that if the Speaker has a quiet word with a government minister about a constituency issue, he or she is more likely to be listened to attentively than an ordinary back bencher making a fuss on the floor of the House.

So far as not voting on the merits of legislation, the Speaker is insulated from losing support by the convention that the major parties do not run candidates in the Speaker's constituency.

No incumbent Speaker, seeking re-election, has been defeated in a constituency election for several centuries (certainly not since they began running as the Speaker without being even a nominal party candidate in I think 1935) so the arrangement works in practice however illogical it may be.
21  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Liberal Democrat leadership election, 2015 on: May 11, 2015, 03:02:42 pm
The most important argument for Tim Farron is that he would have some chance of attracting attention, whereas Norman Lamb is the sort of competent person who is invaluable in government but who will not make an impact in opposition.

Tim Farron also has the advantages of not having served in the coalition government and having voted against the tuition fees. He is best placed of all the surviving Lib Dem MPs to begin to rebuild the brand. It will not be easy.
22  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 09, 2015, 08:41:36 pm
Perhaps this is an argument for skipping a political generation, to choose a leader first elected after 2005.

Miliband was first elected in 2005.

I know. The political generation to be skipped is, I take it, the one elected before 2005. I was however responding to Famous Mortimer's question, which implied a 2005 cut off point as all prominent candidates elected before then would have supported the Iraq War.

My own view is that it is better to have a leader with a long political career than a novice, but Labour is not helped because Blair and Brown were the sort of leaders who preferred sycophants to independently powerful colleagues. It may be that there is no one with an ideal record available, as Blair and Brown did not give prospective strong successors the chance to develop.
23  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 09, 2015, 07:47:57 pm
Were any of the people being discussed in parliament when the Iraq War was voted on? If so, how did they vote?

This seems to be the official division list for the vote, which I believe is the one being asked about. The resolution being voted on is set out after the votes.


I notice that Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Angela Eagle and David Lammy all voted for the resolution. I imagine that just about all ambitious Labour politicians holding or hoping to acquire ministerial office from Blair, who were in the House in 2003, voted for it.

Perhaps this is an argument for skipping a political generation, to choose a leader first elected after 2005.

Of the potential candidates I have noticed, Sadiq Khan was elected in 2005, Chuka Umunna in 2010 and Dan Jarvis in 2011.
24  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 (The Official Election Day & Results Thread) on: May 08, 2015, 12:14:32 pm
It appears Cameron actually implemented Netanyahu campaign strategy applied to Scotland and well it worked.

I'm not familiar with LD interior politics, how do they select a leader? must he be an MP?

The party constitution requires the leader to be a member of the House of Commons.

10.5 Nominations must be of a Member of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons,
who must be proposed by at least ten percent of other members of the Parliamentary Party
in the House of Commons and supported by 200 members in aggregate in not less than 20
Local Parties (including, for this purpose, the Specified Associated Organisations
representing youth and students as provided by Article 13.Cool and must indicate acceptance
of nomination.

The leader is elected by the party membership, using in effect the alternative vote (the version of the Single Transferable Vote involving filling a single office).

16. The election shall be conducted by secret ballot and the single transferable vote. Counts shall be conducted in accordance with the current edition of the Electoral Reform Society’s
publication ‘How to conduct an election by the single transferable vote’. The election count
may be scrutinised by the candidate, their agents and one other personal representative and
shall be open to any party member, subject to capacity of the venue.
25  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Which is the more likely as the next UK government? on: May 07, 2015, 03:10:44 am
I think a Labour minority is the most probable government. The Conservatives will probably win the most seats,  but they will have a more difficult time mustering the votes needed to stay in power.
As for a Conservative/Labour grand coalition, that would never happen. Those two parties would rather dissolve parliament than work together.

The Grand Coalition comes after the second inconclusive general election of the year.
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