Sunday, January 14, 2024

Elections galore in 2024 - Ireland among reluctant voters

The Pew Research Center published in late 2022 the most recent nationwide election results for 50 countries, mostly with highly developed economies and solid democratic traditions. The Center said the clear turnout champion was Uruguay: In the second, decisive round of that nation’s 2019 presidential election, 94.9% of the estimated voting-age population and 90.1% of registered voters cast ballots.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) based in Stockholm, has a database of the Voting Age Population (VAP), as well as the number of Registered Voters (REG) as indicators of political participation. The VAP figure includes an estimated number of all those citizens over the legal voting age, while the registration rate comprises the actual number of people on the voters’ roll.

Ireland's VAP Turnout rate was only 56.65% in the general election of 2020; 58.04% in 2016 and 63.78% in 2011.

The Irish general election in February 2011 was crucial as it came months following the economic rescue following the busting of the property bubble.

In November 2010, the Irish government sought help from the IMF and the European Union, which together provided loans totalling €67.5bn — equal to 40%t of Ireland's then economy. The rescue involved the International Monetary Fund (IMF); European Central Bank (ECB), and also the British government, which gave a loan to Ireland.

In February 2011 36% of the 18 age-plus population did not vote.

The Irish VAP was 77.76% in 1973 when Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC). It was 73.41% in 1948.

The 2020 Irish poll was the first general election held on a Saturday since 1918 but the participation rate still fell.

The next Irish general election has to be held by March 2025 to elect the 34th Dáil, the lower house of Ireland's parliament, the Oireachtas.

Under the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2023, there will be 174 TDs (Repersatives) at the next election, an increase of 14 seats from the current Dáil, and an increase in the number of constituencies from 39 to 43. This will be the largest Dáil in the history of the state.

Denmark's VAP Turnout hasn't been below 75% in every parliamentary election since 1945.

In 2022 the rate was 75.65%. It has been below 80% on only 5 occasions since 1945 when 28 general elections were held.

Denmark and Sweden have very similar voting patterns.

Sweden's VAP has not been below 75% or below 80% only 5 times. 23 parliamentary elections have occurred since 1948. It was 80.34% in 2022.

Norway with 20 parliamentary since 1945 had a level of 69.33% in 2021, which was the first time to be below 70%.

Finland has had 22 parliamentary since 1945: The VAP level was 68.87% in 2023. The lowest level was 65.21% in 1999.

Iceland has a population of about 370,000 and in the 3 last parliamentary elections were at 75.79%; 78.39% and 75.68%.

Belgium since 1949 has had consistently high rates in the 80s, and in 2019 the rate fell to 77.94%. The Netherlands in November 2023 had a VAP Turnout of 72.65%. Since 1946 when the rate was 85.47% and 92.07% in 1967, the rate never fell below 70.00%.

Elections in 2024

This year, 2024, more than half the people on the planet will hold national elections. About 2bn people in more than 70 countries may vote. Ballots will be cast from the United Kingdom to Bangladesh, and from India to Indonesia.

Bangladeshis with a population of 170mn held its general election in January, giving Sheikh Hasina a fifth term as Bangladeshi prime minister after a vote boycotted by the main opposition party and marred by violence.

The turnout was 27.5%. In 2018, it was more than 80%.

Taiwanese voters swept the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te into power on Saturday, January 13, rejecting Chinese pressure to spurn him, as China said it would not give up on achieving "reunification." Lai also only won 40% of the vote in Taiwan's first-past-the-post system.

The turnout was around 72% of the nearly 19mn eligible voters on the island of 23mn.

The Economist says "The favourite in Indonesia’s presidential election has a sordid past." The current favourite, Prabowo Subianto, a former general, is said to be very wealthy. The election first round is on February 14.

In March the Russian dictator will organise a sham presidential election.

The Economist "According to our calculations, 76 countries are scheduled to hold elections in which all voters have the chance to cast a ballot in 2024. Of the 71 covered by EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) Democracy Index, 43 will enjoy fully free and fair votes (27 of which are EU members); the other 28 do not meet the essential conditions for a democratic vote.

Eight of the ten most populous countries in the world — Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia and the United States—will hold elections in 2024. In half of these, elections are neither free nor fair and many other prerequisites of democracy, such as freedom of speech and association, are absent. Elections in Bangladesh, Mexico, Pakistan (all hybrid regimes, which combine elements of democracy and authoritarianism) and Russia (an authoritarian one) are almost certain not to bring regime change."

The European Parliament says "Between 6 and 9 June 2024, the 10th European elections will take place in the 27 EU Member States, and around 366mn EU citizens will be called to the polling stations.

"The elections to the European Parliament represent a crucial moment in EU democracy: they give citizens a say in the EU's political direction. After declining ever since the first European elections in 1979, electoral turnout in the 2019 elections reached an unprecedented 50.6 % (up 8 % points compared with 2014). This increase was largely the result of greater youth participation, demonstrating young people's desire for active political participation, including by casting their vote. This desire was also repeatedly expressed during the Conference on the Future of Europe, a major innovative exercise in participatory democracy. In 2024, four Member States (Belgium, Germany, Malta and Austria) will allow their citizens to vote from the age of 16, and in Greece, the voting age is 17."

Austria in 2007 was the first country in the European Union to allow 16-year-olds to vote in elections and 17-year-olds to vote in federal elections. In 2016 the Greek government cut the age of participation in elections to 17. 

Democracy Index

The Economist's sister organisation, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2023 said that its Democracy Index 2022 was based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Countries are placed within one of four types of regimes: full democracies; flawed democracies; hybrid regimes; and authoritarian regimes.

There are 24 full democracies among 167 countries. with 8% of the global population. Ireland has an 8th ranking.

While full democracies account for 8% of the world's population and 37% of authoritarian regimes including the Russian dictatorship.

"The global record in democratisation since the start of its so-called third wave in 1974, and acceleration after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has been impressive. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure of democracy, one-half of the world’s population now lives in a democracy of some sort. However, in recent years there has been backsliding on previously attained progress in democratisation. The global financial crisis that started in 2008 accentuated some existing negative trends in political development."

Plus Spain and South Korea to make 24 Full democracies

The United States is a flawed democracy which will elect a president in November. Trump could get elected again on a minority vote.

Biden’s 2020 victory came not because he won nearly 7mn more votes nationally than Donald Trump, but rather because he won about 200,000 votes more in a handful of swing states.

While Republican senators had a majority in the chamber in 2020, they represented less than 20mn fewer Americans than Democratic senators did.

A minority president nominated 3 Supreme Court justices and the minority Republican senators voted for them.

In Senate terms, Wyoming has 2 senators for a 580,00 population while California has a population of 39mn and two senators.

Until 1965 Blacks in the Deep South could not vote for over 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

When they got the vote Republican states made it difficult to vote including gerrymandering.

In a poll published in early January 2024, more than one-third of Americans said Biden’s election was "illegitimate." Older Americans were slightly more likely than younger ones to say Biden was legitimately elected, as are Americans with college degrees.

More than 3 in 10 Republicans have adopted the lie that the FBI conspired to cause the Capitol riot on January 6 2021.

In the mid-19th century in America a new party, The National American Party, became known as the Know-Nothings. The party enjoyed a quick but brief rise in fame in the 1850s. While firmly against Catholics and foreigners, the Know-Nothings, like the rest of the country in the pre-Civil War Days, would divide over the issue of slavery.

The US Republican Party, in the past known as the Party of Lincoln, are the 21st century's Know-Nothings. 

Israel is also a flawed democracy amidst the dictatorships of the Middle East.

The Economist Intelligence Unit said "Poor institutions continue to be a drag on the quality of democracy in the region (Eastern Europe), and the score for the functioning of government remains Eastern Europe’s worst-performing category: its score of 4.74 represents only a modest improvement from the previous year. The political culture and civil liberties categories register the biggest improvements."

Last October Poland’s conservative "Law and Justice (PiS)" party was defeated by the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) in the general election.

The Rule of Law has been restored in Poland but the president from the defeated far-right regime will be in office until 2025. A president will be held on May 18 2025.

In December 2023 if a general election was held in Germany then the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz would only have received 14% of the vote. That was another 2% lower than November's figure and the lowest since June 2021, according to DeutschlandTrend, a monthly tracking of political sentiment among the German electorate.

Europe's biggest economy is without a helmsman. at a time when a leader is needed.

Reuters said support for Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) hit an all-time high of 23% in a poll published on December 19 as the party continued to benefit from the fallout of a budget crisis.

Although the ruling coalition agreed on a budget for this year in December after a court ruling upended its financial plans, mainstream parties fear that economic uncertainty could push voters to the AfD before elections in three eastern states this year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.3% lower in 2023 than in the previous year, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

“Overall economic development faltered in Germany in 2023 in an environment that continues to be marked by multiple crises,” Destatis president Ruth Brand said in a statement.

Defiance in the Face of Autocratization: Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) produces the largest global dataset on democracy with over 31 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2022. Produced by the V-Dem Institute  at the University of Gothenburg