Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FRENCH ELECTIONS....According to Belgium's Belga news agency (via the Guardian), exit polls show that the winners of the first round of today's French election are the Conservative, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Socialist, Ségolène Royal. Jerome a Paris has some background here. And as long as you're over there, I also recommend last week's monster fisking of the Economist's endorsement of Sarkozy. It's not that I agree with everything Jerome said in it, just that it might possibly be the most thorough and spectacular example ever committed to pixels of an old and fading genre. Brings back memories.

UPDATE: Officially released exit polls confirm the early results. From the BBC: "Centre-right Mr Sarkozy won 30%, ahead of Ms Royal of the Socialists on 25.2%. Centrist Francois Bayrou got 18.3% and the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen 11.5%."

UPDATE 2: Final results:

  • Nicolas Sarkozy — 31.1%

  • Ségolène Royal — 25.8%

  • Francois Bayrou — 18.6%

  • Jean-Marie Le Pen — 10.5%

  • Other lefties — 10%

  • Other righties — 3.5%

Kevin Drum 12:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

mhr -- the *new* American Hawk

Posted by: Disputo on April 22, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap, you are right about Jerome's deconstruction of the Economist essay. Wonder how long it took to put that together?

Posted by: bmaz on April 22, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Is Jerome a Parisian?

Posted by: Keith G on April 22, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I hoped that Bayrou would reach the second round, but expected that it would be an *ahem* Sarko-Sego race in the end. I expect that Sarkozy will be victorious in the end, but that's not a terrificly well founded expectation.

I'm just happy that Le Pen seem to not have had the same success as he frustratingly did in 2002. That man is disgusting.

Posted by: Paludicola on April 22, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: "...For more details read the book The Prince of the City, written by a rational liberal, one who is still capable of seeing truth."

Always trotting out the same tired lines, I see, like the good little footsoldier you are. Daddy pat you on the head yet today?

Posted by: Kenji on April 22, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Jerome a Paris seems pretty upset that the French election article in the Economist focused on economic issues. Next month, I expect to see him complain that Sports Illustrated focuses on sports.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 22, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

A Dallas newspaper editorial has compared Sarkozy with Giuliani.

Like some idiot in Texas would have a clue about New York City or France.

Posted by: cld on April 22, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there's a lot of similarities between Giuliani and Sarkozy. Both are law and order types and like going after defenseless minorities in bad neighborhoods.

Posted by: mikeel on April 22, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't seen the term "fisking" in a long while. The thought made me happy. Can't we retire it for good?

Posted by: SMG on April 22, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin for the kind words. I'm curious as to what you disagree with!

@ ex-liberal: well, it was an article about French politics. The fact that politics are dominated by economic issues to the exclusion of any other consideration is a bit sad, yes.

@ Keith G: yes

@ bmaz: well, the way business papers write about France changes little over time, and I've had the opportunity to accumulate a lot of material which shows that most of that discourse is based purely on ideology and prejudice and not on facts.

Posted by: Jerome a Paris on April 22, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Time to copy the French and introduce run-off elections here. That way we can have third-party candidates (like Nader) broaden the political agenda without being accused that they are spoilers.

Posted by: JS on April 22, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

They do have run-offs. Everyone needs Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

Posted by: James on April 22, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly I'm fighting a losing battle, but progressives shouldn't use the word "fisking" this way, as it's an insult to Robert Fisk. There are other good words, like "debunking".

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 22, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, ranking candidates in an election is the most intelligent voting system. (Have been arguing for this for a long time -- without knowing the term "IRV"). Truly captures the will of the people, without discouraging minor candidates from running.

But I doubt that either of the major parties would go for it, as it might bring surprises. (If people aren't afraid that they might "waste" their vote on an outsider, they could vote for outsiders in large numbers.).

Posted by: JS on April 22, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

From some brief looks at recent French political writing, it appears that Royal is getting the Gore treatment - started out with praise, then couldn't do anything right. An unfortunate meme seems to be there.

Posted by: natural cynic on April 22, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think that run-offs are a very good method because the second election adds the cost of a second election, tends to suffer from depressed turnout, and might lead to some unwanted consequences such as what befell France in 2002. I'll grant that it's perhaps reaching too far to warn vigorously of that third possibility, but that scarcely improves my opinion of the method.

Instant Run-off voting, known in Australia and scholarly circles as the Alternative Vote, is better and effectively deals with most of the problems (counting would be more laborious, but doubtfully drastically costlier), but wouldn't change much. In most elections to the Australian House of Representatives there are very few constituencies where single-member plurality (effectively the US system in nearly all national elections) would have produced a different result.

I would like to test a more theoretical method, my preference being for the Borda Count, but that is reaching too far. Single-winner elections, of course, restrict the possibilities severely, so any system will be somehow disappointing, although the present method is quite likely more disappointing than most others.

Posted by: Paludicola on April 22, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Must-read: Tony Judt's op-ed in the NYT on Chirac's successors. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/opinion/22judt.html

Posted by: Max Power on April 22, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

... an easier link to Tony Judt's op-ed.

Posted by: Max Power on April 22, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

While we're mentioning voting systems, please have a look at approval voting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approval_voting

It's an interesting system because it's simple, and it does not favour divisive tactics, but encourages cherry-picking of proposals and policies.

In the current system, we have the slightly paradoxical situation where polls give Bayrou as winning over either Royal or Sarkozy, but losing against the both of them plus the others.

Posted by: Tobu on April 23, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently mhr is under the (mistaken) impression that France has been under "liberal rule" for decades. m seems to share this delusion.

Posted by: josephdietrich on April 23, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK
Time to copy the French and introduce run-off elections here.

Although not for the Presidency, we have two-round runoff elections (the second worse kind of direct election) here for many offices. The spoiler effect is nearly as significant in two-round-runoff as in straight plurality elections.

Among major democracies, the US and France have pretty much the least effectively representative systems, and the least popular with their own people. While it is good to look outside for ways to improve the system, France is hardly the best place to look.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK
Yes, ranking candidates in an election is the most intelligent voting system. (Have been arguing for this for a long time -- without knowing the term "IRV").

IRV is not the same as ranking candidates on the ballot. IRV is a particularly method of counting ranked ballots.

Truly captures the will of the people, without discouraging minor candidates from running.

Whether it truly captures the will of the people depends on what is done with the ballots, not how they are marked. IRV is probably a bit better than majority/runoff which itself is a better better than plurality, but none of the three is particularly great.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Re Royal, natural cynic wrote:

"From some brief looks at recent French political writing, it appears that Royal is getting the Gore treatment - started out with praise, then couldn't do anything right. An unfortunate meme seems to be there."

Well, but you know, she really *has* made gaffes: she didn't realize that the Taliban weren't in control of Afganistan, and she met with a Hezbollah leader who proceeded to make some... highly unfortunate remarks about Israel, and she praised the Chinese justice system for its speed (!). And when you ask her how she's going to pay for her tidy 100-point program, she says it'll be ok because the economy's going to keep rising. (Say it with me: Hope is not a plan.) And she uses the fact that she's a woman to get people to give her a break. Which -- as a woman -- I find kind of squicky.

I dunno. It's not just a media effect. I think even if I wanted Royal to win, I'd still think Sarko was the stronger candidate.

Posted by: Shoshana on April 23, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

IRV is not the same as ranking candidates on the ballot. IRV is a particularly method of counting ranked ballots.

Not knowing much about this, I just looked up IRV when James mentioned it above, and Wikipedia says:

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single winner elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.

It then goes on to discuss the ballot counting aspects of IRV. Is the point here that there are ranking-based voting systems different from IRV? No doubt there are many ways of processing ranked preferences, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Don't know much about them, but it seems that almost any ranking-based system would be better than simple plurality. Why is there not much discussion about changing this in the US?

Posted by: JS on April 23, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

IRV is probably a bit better than majority/runoff which itself is a better better than plurality, but none of the three is particularly great.

Do you have another recommendation? Or are there no "great" election systems possible?

Posted by: JS on April 23, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

What about giving some credit to the surge in participation: 85 % (+ 20 points compared to 2002) of registered voters (+ 3 million)??

And the phenomenal drop in support of Le Pen? and the good performance of a centrist candidate?

Posted by: Richard A on April 23, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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