Thursday, December 28, 2006

Countries that need to fix their media systems

I've been doing some research for a term paper on comparing democracies. Using Coppedge and Reinicke's Polyarchy and Contestation data-set, I've identified those countries which would be perfect polyarchies were it not for their media systems, where government information is privileged. They are:
  • Albania
  • Botswana
  • Cape Verde
  • Croatia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Israel and the occupied territories
  • Kiribati
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Panama
  • Ukraine
These countries are doing something right. That's to say, they score a one on fair elections, freedom of political organisation, and freedom of expression. But they're falling behind in their media systems. As the coding schema for the Coppedge and Reinicke data-set puts it:
Alternative sources of information are widely available but government versions are presented in preferential fashion. This may be the result of partiality in and greater availability of government-controlled media; selective closure, punishment, harassment, or censorship of dissident reporters, publishers, or broadcasters; or mild self-censorship resulting from any of these.

(The countries in the data-set are scored using the US State Department's Human Rights Report).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Invented story leads to real investigation

About two weeks ago, Enrico Deaglio alleged that the centre-right had attempted to steal the 2006 election by counting blank and invalid ballots as votes for the centre-right. Deaglio's argument didn't add up: the centre-right only had control over the projections at the Ministry of the Interior; the real votes were summed from the sub-totals of the several regional electoral commissions. Indeed, Deaglio was prosecuted for, in effect, a breach of the peace.

Yet as a consequence of Deaglio's arguments - which seem unconvincing and have been found to be so by the judicial system - the Italian Senate Committee for Elections has moved to recount the blank, wasted, and spoilt votes in seven regions.

It's not clear why these particular regions were chosen. They include regions won by the left and by the right, by narrow margins and by huge margins:
  • Campania - 0.5% gap in favour of the left
  • Calabria - 14.2% gap in favour of the left
  • Lazio - 1.1% gap in favour of the right
  • Lombardia - 14.3% gap in favour of the right
  • Puglia - 4% in favour of the right
  • Sicilia - 17.3% in favour of the right
  • Toscana - 22.6% gap in favour of the left
Would be interesting to get a breakdown of the number of blank and spoiled ballots by region, and see whether the number of contested ballots in Campania and Lazio could result in a re-allocation of seats. Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry doesn't seem to have this data.