May 5 - UK votes. Labour is ahead by around 5-8% and expected to win a majority. Aparently Labour benefits from the distribution of its votes and could pull off a majority even if the Conservatives got the same number of votes. I'm upset with the rightwing moves that Labour has been making (at least since Neil Kinnock in the Eighties) which have now become obvious to the world as Blair was Bush's favorite imperialist ally.

I wonder if Blair is any worse than prior Labour leaders in this move to the right? It seems like social-democrats/labour parties have been moving to the right... perhaps almost since the 1880s (when the German social democrats first started moving away from Marxism). I guess there have been shifts back to the left in 1917-1919 (due to the Russian Revolution), the Thirties, 1943-1946 (after communist Russia defeated Hitler, and before the Cold War was up and running), and 1968-1971.

May 17 - British Columbia votes. There is an interesting long-standing market run by the University of British Columbia where people can trade shares whose value will be determined by the outcome. It looks like the right-wing Liberals are 5% ahead of the NDP and going to get another majority, but a substantially smaller one. The Greens have a shot at one seat (though perhaps a long shot) which would be their first provincial one in Canada. BC is a Green stronghold - with support recently between 10-15%, which is more than any other Canadian province or US state. The Greens were included in the debates.

What I'm most interested in is the fate of the referendum on whether to switch the electoral system to the Single-Transferable-Vote (STV) method. The government organized a group of regular people getting together and they came up with this recommendation. Unfortunately it might not pass (currently 40% chance). If it did pass, they would create multi-member districts of between 2 and 7 members. This would give the Greens and other provincial third parties (like the Reform Party - now known as the Democratic Reform Party) a chance at winning a couple seats. STV can come close to proportional representation - if the districts are big enough (the two-member districts aren't going to cut it).

BC has a fascinating political history with many unique parties that have rapidly risen and fallen from power.

June/July - Canada Votes? There might be an election if the centrist Liberal government fails to pass the budget. They have a minority and need to get the support of the social-democratic NDP, three independents, and then the speaker will break the tie. NDP is on-board in exchange for increased social spending and not cutting taxes on big corporations. One or two of the independents is shaky.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois want an election because of a major scandal which has shown that the Liberals were illegally receiving a couple million dollars of political donations in exchange for promising government contracts. This has caused the Conservatives to take a tentative lead in the polls, and the Bloc Quebecois to completely dominate the polls in Quebec. The NDP isn't so interested in an election because their support is only slightly up, and they are currently in one of the most powerful postitions they have been since 1972 (when they were a minority partner to a Liberal government). The NDP might prefer holding most of the balance of power to a Liberal minority government, rather than having a Conservative minority - as they wouldn't be able to support the Conservatives on much of anything. Also, they could be worried that the public would give either the Liberals or Conservatives a majority and then they'd be back to the sidelines.

I'm kind of worried what will happen to the NDP if they end up supporting the Liberals for too long - particularly as the new Liberal leader (Paul Martin) is from the right-wing of the Liberal party. This could push the NDP to the right, though the new NDP leader is more left so he might try holding on to principles.

All of this is a long way of saying that US politics are really extremely boring compared to the rest of the world.

US politics are really extremely boring ?

Awww :) I only know as much as I do because I do politics at school, otherwise it would be just "bush is an arse, lets release saddam and let him gas kurds". Strangely enough, I like US politics more than UK :-/

UK electoral bias favors Labour party

I'm reading a book now which argues that the Conservatives benefitted from a small bias in the Fifties, but since 1997 the Labour party has benefitted from a very large bias (on the order of 50-70 seats).

Labour benefits from
-having less voters in each of its constituencies (this was recently fixed in 2005 for Scotland which lost 1/6 of its seats, however Wales still has more seats than it should - also Labour benefits in general from the declining population of urban centers, due to the growth of the suburbs)
-an increased rate of abstention in its constituencies (probably because lower-income and younger voters tend to vote less)
-a strong third party (mostly the Liberal Democrats but also the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru) which allows Labour to win seats with a minority of the vote. Apparently this helps Labour more than the Conservatives.

The book unfortunately stops its coverage with the 1997 election.

I think the bias may have actually increased. For instance if you use an election simulator (which does a good job of predicting the 2005 results if you plug in the numbers from the BBC) and plug in Con: 30%, Lab: 30%, LibDem 30%, you get Labour with 327 seats (a very slight majority), Conservatives with 176 and Lib Dems with 113.

This shows a massive bias in favor of Labour over the Conservatives, and an even larger one for Labour over the Lib Dems.

For a three-way tie, it would take
Lab: 23.5%, 207 seats
Con: 29.5%, 205 seats
Lib Dem: 37%, 203 seats

I think that might not be entirely accurate as the Lib Dems would have an uneven swing if their vote were to almost double. Eg they'd break through in new regions (as they'd gain momentum and voters would start to tactically vote for them because it wouldn't be a wasted vote). The areas where they had 40-50% support might peak at 60-80%, instead of going all the way up to 100%. It's hard to get more than 100%, though some parties have tried =)

Labour wins Majority with 35%

Labour wins a third majority with only 35.2% of the vote. They got almost twice as many seats as the Conservatives who got 32.3%. Got to love the first past the post system!

The one bit of hope for the Left is that George Galloway who was kicked out of the Labour party for being anti-war/critical of Tony Blair was elected by a very small margin, beating the mainstream Labour canidate in a Labour stronghold. He gave a short rowdy speech: "This is for Iraq!". He ran as part of a newly created party (RESPECT) which is a coalition of Socialist Workers and Muslims. RESPECT had several other good finishes (strong second places), but of course it's the old white man from Scotland (the seat he won wasn't anywhere near Scotland) who wins the seat for this multiracial party. Come to think of it - all the major Labour lefty rebels that I know of are white men...