Thursday, March 11, 2010

The big day in Chile

Sebastián Piñera becomes President of Chile today.  Don't expect many drastic changes, but the ideological change of tone is evident from the touchy-feely talk from Alvaro Uribe, as they are now BFF.

There are many immediate issues at stake, most notably rebuilding from the earthquake.  But over the longer term, the biggest question is how the Concertación responds to losing.  The binomial system creates a disincentive to fall apart completely because coalitions fare better, but there is plenty of finger pointing and already one member (Jaime Ravinet as Minister of Defense) went over to the dark side.  John Carey and Peter Siavelis have argued that giving appointments to losers in legislative elections provided the glue that holds the coalition together.*  Now the Concertación has no posts to give.

And it all means that there will be plenty for political scientists to write about.

*John M. Carey and Peter M. Siavelis, "Insurance for Good Losers and the Survival of Chile's Concertación," Latin American Politics & Society 47, 2 (2005): 1-22.


Anonymous,  11:30 AM  

Question for Greg. I have never seen "binomial" used in any sense other than mathematic models and scientific formulations. Did you mean "binary?" Can you explain why "binomial" would describe the political system better than a two party electoral system?

Greg Weeks 11:37 AM  

The binomial system refers to two-member districts, where a party (or coalition) must get over 2/3 of the votes to win both seats. Otherwise the party that comes in second gets the second seat. Coalitions obviously do better because they can garner more votes overall.

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