Greens surge in Switzerland; left retains Bolivia presidency and wins Budapest mayoral election; far-right surges in German and Italian state elections

Switzerland uses proportional representation by canton (state). At the October 20 election, the right-wing People’s Party won 53 of the 200 lower house seats (down 12), the Social Democrats 39 (down four), the Liberals 29 (down four), the Greens 28 (up 17), the Christian Democrats 25 (down two), the Green Liberals 16 (up nine) and the Conservative Democrats three (down four).

Elections were also held for the 46-member upper house. While lower house seats are allocated to cantons on a population basis, the 20 full cantons have two upper house seats each, and the six half-cantons one seat each. Most cantons will have a second round election for the upper house on November 24, so we do not know upper house results yet.

Switzerland has a unique system of executive government. Rather than a directly elected president or a PM elected by parliament who wields executive power, Switzerland has a seven-member Federal Council. The Council currently has two People’s Party, two Social Democrats, two Liberals and one Christian Democrat.

Elections to the Council are held by both chambers of parliament sitting as one. The composition of the Council roughly reflects parliament’s composition. A Green may be elected to Council at the expense of a right-wing party.

Left-wing Marales wins fourth term in Bolivia (actually not)

Left-wing Bolivian president Evo Marales was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2014, winning over 60% in his first two re-election bids. At the October 20 election, Morales was held to 47.1%, while his principal opponent, Carlos Mesa, won 36.5%. As Morales had over 40% while finishing more than ten points ahead of his nearest rival, he was elected without a runoff.

There was controversy in this election, both regarding Morales running for a fourth term and the count. A preliminary count was paused with 83% counted; Morales led by seven points at that point, which would have required a runoff.

Update November 11: Morales announced on November 10 that he would resign as president, after a report from the Organisation of American States found “serious irregularities” in the vote count. A new presidential election will be required.

Left wins Budapest, but Fidesz wins overall in Hungarian local elections

Hungarian local elections were held on October 13. The opposition parties gained the Budapest mayoralty from the governing far-right Fidesz. However, across all local elections, Fidesz won 54.5% of the vote, to 41.0% for all opposition parties.

Fidesz has won three successive landslides at national elections since 2010. Although major cities are trending left, regions are trending right globally. If Fidesz continues to win a majority across Hungary, they will continue to govern.

Far-left and far-right largest parties after Thuringian (Germany) state election

At the October 27 Thuringian state election in Germany, the far-left Left won 29 of the 90 seats (up one since 2014), the far-right AfD 22 (up 11), the conservative CDU 21 (down 13), the centre-left SPD eight (down four), the Greens five (down one) and the pro-business FDP five. The threshold was 5%, and the FDP cleared it by just six votes (0.0005 points). I do not know whether there will be a recount. It is the first time since German reunification that the Left has been the biggest party in a state election.

46 seats are required for a majority. Although the Left has been in coalition governments before, only other left-wing parties have previously worked with it, while the AfD has been frozen out of government by all other parties. To reach a majority, the CDU will need to not actively oppose the Left. The previous Thuringian government was a Left/SPD/Green coalition.

Update November 10: In final results announced November 7, presumably after rechecking all votes cast, the FDP passed the 5% threshold by 73 votes.

Far-right crushes in Umbrian (Italy) regional election

At the October 27 Umbrian regional election in Italy, the far-right League candidate won 57.6%, to 37.5% for the centre-left candidate, who was backed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Since 1970, the Umbrian presidency has been held by the left. At the 2015 election, the centre-left candidate defeated the right-wing candidate by 3.5%.

In August, the League’s national leader, Matteo Salvini, broke his coalition with the Five Stars in an attempt to force new Italian elections, but they formed a coalition with the centre-left Democrats to reach a governing majority – details here. The Umbrian election was the first since the Five Star/Democrat coalition was formed, and will be a little revenge for Salvini and the League.

Left wins Danish election; new Israeli election; German Greens surge to tie for lead; Left gains in Tas upper house

The Danish election was held on June 5. There are 179 parliamentary seats – 175 in Denmark proper, and two each in Faroe Islands and Greenland. All seats are elected by proportional representation with a 2% threshold.

In Denmark, the Social Democrats won 48 of the 175 seats (up one since the 2015 election), the conservative Venstre 43 (up nine), the far-right People’s Party 16 (down 21), the Social Liberals 16 (up eight), the Socialist People’s Party 14 (up seven), the Red-Green Alliance 13 (down one), the Conservative People’s Party 12 (up six) and the environmental Alternative five (down four). Two other right-wing parties won four seats each, and three more right-wing parties missed the 2% threshold.

Red bloc parties (Social Democrats, Liberals, Socialists and Red-Greens) won 91 of the 175 Denmark seats (up 15), while blue bloc parties won 79 seats (down 11). If the Alternative is counted with the left, left-wing parties won in Denmark by 96 seats to 79. Right-wing parties that missed the threshold slightly assisted the left.

Left-wing parties won three of four seats in Faroe Islands and Greenland, so the left overall has a 99 seat to 80 majority.

Major Danish parties (Social Democrats and Venstre) have adopted much of the anti-immigration rhetoric of the People’s Party, partly explaining that party’s steep fall. As a result, the Social Democrats may have difficulty forming a coalition government with the more left-wing parties that dislike anti-immigrant policies.

New Israeli election after Netanyahu fails to form a government

At the April 9 Israeli election, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won 35 of the 120 Knesset seats, tieing for most seats with the left-leaning Blue and White. With right-wing parties that had formed the last government, the right had 65 seats, a clear majority. It was assumed that Netanyahu had won his fourth successive term.

However, there was a dispute over conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jewish students. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the nationalist far-right Yisrael Beiteinu, wanted this conscription, while the Orthodox Jewish parties, Shas and UTJ, were opposed. Netanyahu needed all three parties to reach a majority. Shas and UTJ had 16 seats combined, while Yisrael Beiteinu had five seats. But without Yisrael Beiteinu, Netanyahu had just 60 seats, one short of a majority.

As a result of this dispute over conscription, the deadline for Netanyahu to form a government expired on May 29. The Knesset was dissolved shortly after midnight May 30, and new elections will be held on September 17.

Polls so far show a close contest between the governing parties led by Likud, and the opposing parties including Yisrael Beiteinu. But Yisrael Beiteinu will never back a left-wing government.

German Greens surge to tie CDU/CSU after European elections

At the German European elections on May 26, the conservative CDU/CSU parties won 29 of the 96 seats (down five since 2014), the Greens 21 (up 11), the Social Democrats 16 (down 11), the far-right AfD 11 (up four), the far-left Left five (down two) and the economically liberal FDP five (up two).

Probably partly as a result of their strong performance at the European elections, the Greens have surged into a tie with the CDU/CSU in German federal polling. The two most recent polls, taken after the European elections, have the Greens one point ahead and one point behind the CDU/CSU. The Greens and CDU/CSU are in the mid to high 20’s, while the normal major left party, the Social Democrats, have slumped to just 13%, damaged by their continuing participation in the Grand Coalition government with the CDU/CSU.

Left gained a seat in Tasmanian upper house elections on May 4

Every May, two or three of Tasmania’s 15 upper house seats are up for election for six-year terms. This year’s elections, held on May 4, occurred in Pembroke, Montgomery and Nelson. Labor and the Liberals easily retained their seats in Pembroke and Montgomery respectively, with over 58% of the two party vote against the other major party.

Ten candidates stood in Nelson, and the Liberals were first on primary votes with 23.7%, followed by left-wing independent Vica Bayley on 15.9%, another left-wing independent, Meg Webb, on 13.8%, ex-Labor independent Madeleine Ogilvie on 12.6% and the Greens on 11.1%.

On Ogilvie’s preferences, Webb moved ahead of Bayley. When Bayley’s preferences were distributed, Webb defeated the Liberals by an emphatic 59-41 margin.

According to analyst Kevin Bonham, the retiring incumbent in Nelson was a moderate conservative independent who had been president of the upper house since his re-election in 2013. Webb is a prominent campaigner for poker machine reform. So this result was a gain for the left in Tasmania. That gave Labor and left-wing independents nine of the 15 Tasmanian upper house seats.

Both Pembroke and Nelson are urban fringe seats around Hobart, while Montgomery is a northern Tasmanian rural/regional seat. At the federal election, the Liberals gained the northern Tasmanian seats of Bass and Braddon from Labor, but struggled in the rest of Tasmania.