Arizona: Panel okays proposal for state lawmakers to tap U.S. Senate nominees | Arizona Capitol Times

Claiming they’re being ignored by John McCain and Jeff Flake, Republican state legislators took the first steps Tuesday to allowing them — and not the voters — to choose who gets to run for the U.S. Senate. On a 6-3 party-line vote, members of the House Committee on Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy approved a a measure which would give lawmakers the power to nominate Senate candidates. Legislators from each political party would choose two nominees for each open seat, with the four names going on the general election ballot. HCR 2022 now goes to the full House. If it gets approved there and by the Senate, the change would have to be ratified by voters in November. In essence, the proposal would partly return Arizona to the way things were prior to 1913 when U.S. senators were chosen outright by the legislatures of each state, with no popular vote at all.

Editorials: Direct Elections Won’t Help Russia’s Opposition | Vladimir Ryzhkov/The Moscow Times

One of the few things the mass protests in the winter of 2011-12 achieved was the return of direct elections for State Duma deputies representing single-member districts. They will be held in September 2016, and half of the parliamentary deputies (225) will, for the first time in 13 years, be elected by specific cities and regions. The winners in each of these 225 districts will be the candidates who receive more votes than any of their opponents. Parliamentary parties, non-parliamentary opposition groups and the Kremlin are already hard at work in preparation for these elections. A foundation with ties to the Kremlin, the Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research (ISEPR), recently released its forecast for the elections, working from the current composition of the Duma. This ISEPR report (“Acting State Duma Deputies in their Districts — 2016”) is important and noteworthy, not only as an expert study, but as a formative one.

China: Hong Kong Lawmakers Promise to Block Election Plan | VoA News

Political tensions continue to rise in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy legislators are promising to block China’s plan for electoral reform in the territory. The plan calls for electing a city leader from a list of candidates approved by the central government in Beijing. Democracy activists say they will travel throughout Hong Kong over the next several weeks. They want to convince people to support the direct election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. Last year, pro-democracy activists shut down parts of the city for months.

Editorials: Should the Poor Be Allowed to Vote? | Peter Reinert/The Atlantic

If Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters succeed in booting C.Y. Leung from power, the city’s unelected chief executive should consider coming to the United States. He might fit in well in the Republican Party. In an interview Monday with The New York Times and other foreign newspapers, Leung explained that Beijing cannot permit the direct election of Hong Kong’s leaders because doing so would empower “the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.” Leung instead defended the current plan to have a committee of roughly 1,200 eminent citizens vet potential contenders because doing so, in the Times’ words, “would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies.” If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Leung’s views about the proper relationship between democracy and economic policy represent a more extreme version of the views supported by many in today’s GOP.

Editorials: Sore Losers Spite Indonesia’s Democracy | Elizabeth Pisani/New York Times

As Indonesia’s departing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spoke last month in the United States about the importance of public participation in politics, the party he leads was working to deprive Indonesians of their right to vote directly for their district leaders or mayors. The move was an attempt by Jakarta’s old guard, whose candidate lost the last national elections in July, to reassert itself in the face of a new breed of politician: competent local administrators who can appeal directly to voters rather than bend to the whims and corrupt interests of their political parties. That generational clash — between candidates whose politics were shaped during the 32 years Suharto held power and those who have come of age professionally since his authoritarian rule ended in 1998 — was the central narrative of the presidential election. In the old guard’s corner was Prabowo Subianto, a former general and son-in-law of Suharto who promised strong-arm government and glory for Indonesia. In the reformist corner was Joko Widodo, a poor-boy-made-good figure and former mayor of Jakarta, who spoke quietly of serving the people. Mr. Joko’s “political outsider” narrative won narrowly, and Mr. Prabowo did not give up easily; he unsuccessfully challenged the result in court, and has never admitted defeat or congratulated his opponent, who takes office Oct. 20.

Voting Blogs: Hong Kong: the stakes are high | openDemocracy

The confrontation in Hong Kong between pro-democracy demonstrators and the Beijing-backed authorities has implications reaching beyond the protesters camped on the streets of the city’s business district or the administration in the official buildings beholden to the central government in Beijing. It epitomises the wider challenge facing China as it seeks economic modernisation while retaining monopolistic Communist Party political rule. Nothing could be more modern in China than the former British colony with its advanced financial system, its freedoms and its full integration into the global economy. Nor could anything be more threatening to the rulers in Beijing than the spiralling call for open direct elections, spearheaded by student protesters defying the police. The clash between the authorities and those calling for uncontrolled democracy in their “umbrella revolution” has intensified this year, as a result of Beijing’s stronger assertion of its right to control developments in the former colony and the emergence of a new, younger pro-democracy movement, which has adopted a more radical approach than the campaigners for a liberal political system in the first decade after sovereignty passed from Britain to China in 1997. The offer of talks by the chief executive on Thursday night, a striking recognition of the power of street protest, would be impossible elsewhere in China.

Indonesia: Little Chance Seen in Overturning New Indonesia Election Law | Wall Street Journal

Allies of President-elect Joko Widodo are working to overturn a new law that ends direct regional elections in Indonesia, a battle that will require a Constitutional Court decision to succeed soon. Lawmakers on Friday passed a law that ends the world’s third-largest democracy’s nine-year experiment with direct elections for mayors, governors and others. The law empowers elected regional councils to appoint these leaders instead. Indonesia’s presidency will still be chosen in direct elections by voters every five years. The legislative vote was won by a coalition of parties who opposed Mr. Widodo in Indonesia’s presidential election this year. The coalition was led by the party of Prabowo Subianto, a former army general in the era of authoritarian ruler Suharto who lost a hard-fought election against Mr. Widodo in July. Mr. Subianto’s allies argued that elections are too expensive in the sprawling nation of 250 million, among other things.

Indonesia: Right to directly elect governors lost in Indonesia | CNN

Indonesia’s parliament voted on Friday to do away with direct local elections in a move that critics say is a huge step backward for the country’s fledgling democracy. Proponents of the law change, to scrap direct elections for mayors and governors, had argued local elections had proven too costly, and were prone to conflict and corruption. The bill was backed by the coalition behind losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. But critics disagreed, and questioned the timing of the bill, first proposed in 2012, just two months after the election of Joko Widodo. Titi Anggraini, director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), said that many were upset by the law change. “I feel so disappointed. It shows how strong the opponents to democracy are. We are facing the biggest enemy of democracy.”

Indonesia: Decade of Direct Local Elections Threatened | Bloomberg

Indonesia’s incoming president began his political ascent as a mayor in a system of local elections. The parties of the candidate he beat in July will try to change the law next week to prevent that happening again. Lawmakers will vote Sept. 25 on a bill to revise a 2004 law on regional government that enabled direct elections. The draft, seen by Bloomberg News, would turn the clock back to a system of local assemblies choosing regional leaders that was created after the downfall of the late dictator Suharto. The vote in parliament, where parties on the losing side of the presidential ballot now hold 75 percent of seats, poses a test for the world’s third-largest democracy and President-elect Joko Widodo, who got his start as mayor of the city of Solo. The bill, opposed by Widodo and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is sponsored by the coalition of losing candidate Prabowo Subianto and may mark a reversal of the shift in power to the regions that began in 2001.

Indonesia: Direct Elections Are OK, Says Indonesian President | Wall Street Journal

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signaled his support for maintaining direct local elections in an interview published on YouTube Sunday, with debate heating up over a bill aimed at giving local assemblies the power to select mayors, governors and district heads. In the video posted on Suara Demokrat or Democratic Voices, a YouTube channel dedicated to Mr. Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, he said people have grown accustomed to direct elections — a system that was first implemented in the young democracy in 2005. If people considered the current system a product of democratic reform, he said, “[certainly] we have to keep and maintain direct local elections, as well as the direct presidential election.”

Editorials: Living Dangerously in Indonesia | Wall Street Journal

Instead of representing a triumph of democracy, Indonesia’s presidential election threatens to spark a crisis. On Tuesday afternoon officials were poised to announce that Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo won the July 9 election with 53% of the vote. But losing candidate and self-styled strongman Prabowo Subianto denounced the result, leveled charges of widespread fraud and withdrew from the race. “We are rejecting this presidential election, which is legally flawed,” Mr. Subianto said from his campaign headquarters, insisting that the vote was “riddled with problems” and “undemocratic.” As confusion spread, his brother and campaign advisor Hashim Djojohadikusumo clarified that “Prabowo Subianto is no longer a presidential candidate.” Though he has complained of irregularities since the vote, Mr. Subianto has marshaled little evidence that the result is illegitimate. Indonesia has some unusual voting practices across its 900 inhabited islands and 190 million eligible voters, but observers and officials generally judged the balloting peaceful, free and fair.

Turkey: Erdogan To Run In First Direct Presidential Election | Eurasia Review

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister for the last 11 years and an increasingly authoritarian and polarising figure, will, as expected, run in the country’s first direct election for the presidency on 10 August. No one expects him to lose, least of all Erdogan himself. His Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won the last six general and local elections. He faces a term limit as prime minister next year. Erdogan will run against Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, who is the joint candidate of the two biggest opposition parties, the centre-left Republican Peoples Party (CHP), established by Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, and the right-wing National Action Party (MHP), and Selahattin Demirtas, a pro-Kurdish politician. By uniting under one candidate, the CHP and the MHP, which represent the secularist elite, hope to narrow the distance with the AKP.

Editorials: Turkey’s Last Chance? | Michael Rubin/Commentary Magazine

Turks will go to the polls on August 10 to elect a new president, the first time that office will be filled by direct election. This weekend, incumbent Abdullah Gül, a Justice and Development Party (AKP) acolyte, has announced he will step down and the AKP will determine its nominee on July 1. The party’s nominee will likely be Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s Islamist, corrupt, and increasingly authoritarian prime minister. Rather than roll over and accept Turkey’s slide into autocracy or kleptocracy without a fight, the center-left Republican Peoples Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have nominated a joint candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Editorials: Restructuring Maine elections has key support | Douglas Rooks/Sun Journal

Now that the primary elections are behind us, the debate returns to what was always the main subject – the race for governor. The battle between incumbent Paul LePage and challenger Mike Michaud, with Eliot Cutler again in the mix, has an epochal quality to it. Whatever happens, it won’t be one of those elections where you wonder how much difference it would have made had the other guy won. So it’s time to dust off the modest proposal I raised back in March – whether we could create a grand bargain to reform what are some of the oddest and least useful parts of Maine’s political system. Those would be legislative term limits – unnecessary in a citizen legislature whose powers are already limited – and the indirect election of the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer, something practiced by no other state, and not in federal elections, either, since the 17th Amendment provided for direct election of U.S. senators a century ago.

Indonesia: Election campaign kicks off | Borneo Post

Indonesia’s raucous election season kicked off yesterday with the promise of a fresh style of leadership in the world’s third largest democracy, whose economic promise has been sapped by rampant graft, confusing policy and weak rule. An uncertain election outlook abruptly changed on Friday when the main PDI-P opposition party named the hugely popular governor of Jakarta as its candidate for July’s presidential election. That lifted even further its chances of dominating the parliamentary election on April 9. Opinion polls suggest the presidency is governor Joko Widodo’s to lose, with old-style contenders ex-general Prabowo Subianto and tycoon Aburizal Bakrie trailing far behind. A hint of the euphoria attached to the nomination of the charismatic Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, was shown in the 3.2 per cent jump in Jakarta share prices after the announcement.

Czech Republic: After the election, Czech political transformation is not over yet | openDemocracy

On Saturday, the Czechs elected Miloš Zeman, an architect of the democratic transition of the early 1990s, to be their new president. Although this role is mostly a symbolic one, expectations were high for a change in public policy. Are Czech voters bound to be disappointed? There were three strong personalities in the Czech politics of the 1990s: Václav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Václav Klaus, the architect of post-communist economic renewal, and Miloš Zeman, Klaus’ main critic and opponent. All of them became Czech president – the last mentioned in the historical first-ever direct presidential election this Saturday. Zeman defeated Karel Schwarzenberg (55 % to 45 % in the second round), minister of foreign affairs, nobleman, familiarly called “prince”, and a follower of Havel-style politics. Schwarzenberg, who always stressed the role of civil society, the Czech role in the promotion of human rights around the world and who held a frank view on Czech post-war history, won the support of the capital Prague and other big cities. On the other hand, Zeman, who left the Social Democrats and founded his own marginal party, attracted votes from the countryside and areas with high unemployment.

Russia: Horse-Trading Positions Kremlin Allies to Win Gubernatorial Races | The Moscow Times

Three candidates running for mayor in the Moscow region town of Khimki announced Tuesday that they will withdraw from the high-profile race, one of dozens of local and regional elections slated for Sunday that include the first gubernatorial elections since 2005. Igor Belousov, a former Khimki deputy mayor who became an opposition supporter, said he has decided to quit the race and back acting Mayor Oleg Shakhov, who is supported by the ruling United Russia party. Also exiting the race is Yury Babak, a candidate from the obscure Cities of Russia party who said he would also support Shakhov. The third person to abandon his candidacy Tuesday was Alexander Romanovich of the Just Russia party. Without elaborating, Romanovich said actions by the regional administration were preventing him from running a proper campaign, the party said in a statement.

Czech Republic: Czechs set first direct presidential election for Jan 11-12 | Chicago Tribune

Czechs will hold their first presidential election on January 11 and 12 to replace outgoing euroskeptic leader Vaclav Klaus, the speaker of the upper house of parliament said on Monday. Up to now, the country’s parliament has chosen the president. But the assembly agreed to hand that power over to the electorate amid calls for more open democracy, fuelled by a growing public perception of cronyism and corruption in the country’s political parties.

Voting Blogs: Why James Madison Wanted to Change the Way We Vote For President |

One of the most common criticisms of plans to modify or eliminate the Electoral College is that to do so would be to deviate from the wisdom of the Founders of the American political system. But the “Father of the Constitution” himself, James Madison, was never in favor of our current system for electing the president, one in which nearly all states award their electoral votes to the statewide popular vote winner. He ultimately backed a constitutional amendment to prohibit this practice. As historian Garry Wills wrote of our fourth president, “as a framer and defender of the Constitution he had no peer.” Yet, when he helped create the Constitution and when he defended it years after his presidency, Madison repeatedly argued for alternatives to the winner-take-all method of choosing a state’s presidential electors. Like other leaders of that time, he looked at the world with clear eyes and learned from experience, unafraid to support change when that change made sense.

Editorials: Maryland Becomes 40th State to Ratify 17th Amendment | Karl Kurtz/The Thicket

My sharp-eyed colleague, Ron Snell, noticed a bit of federalism trivia that had previously slipped by us in the 90 Day Report, a summary of the work of the 2012 Maryland General Assembly: Maryland ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution–the direct election of U.S. senators–during its legislative session earlier this year. Thirty-seven other states–the required three-fourths majority of states in those days–had ratified the amendment in 1913. Alabama ratified it in 2002 and Delaware in 2010. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolinia, Utah and Virginia are the eight states that have not ratified the amendment. Utah is the only state explicitly to have rejected the amendment, according toWikipedia. In looking up this information, I was intrigued to read about a 1997 law review article, “Ulysses at the Mast: Democracy, Federalism, and the Sirens’ Song of the Seventeenth Amendment,” by Judge Jay Bybee in which he argues that the state legtislatures’ ratification of the 17th Amendment, giving up the power to elect U.S. senators, led to a gradual “slide into ignominy” for state legislatures. I don’t buy the “slide into ignominy,” but I agree with Bybee that the 17th Amendment significantly hindered the role of state legislatures in the federal system.

Russia: Kremlin bill restoring gubernatorial elections passes in parliament, but barely | The Associated Press

The Russian parliament on Wednesday passed a Kremlin bill restoring gubernatorial elections, with opponents saying the new law will still allow the president to screen out undesirable candidates. The 450-seat State Duma, the elected lower house, approved the bill with 237 votes, just above the simple majority required. President Dmitry Medvedev submitted the bill in response to massive protests against his mentor Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the March election that gave Putin a third presidential term. Putin had scrapped direct elections of provincial governors during his presidency as part of a systematic rollback of democratic freedoms.

Czech Republic: Czech President to Be Elected in Public Vote | ABC News

Czech citizens will be able to choose their future presidents after a constitutional change approved Wednesday by Parliament that took the decision on who occupies the largely ceremonial post out of lawmakers’ hands. The Senate, which is controlled by the opposition Social Democrats, voted 49-22 on Wednesday in favor of the change. Parliament’s lower house gave its green light in December. Both the country’s presidents since the 1989 Velvet Revolution — the late Vaclav Havel and his political archrival Vaclav Klaus — were elected by Parliament. But bickering among lawmakers during those votes led to calls for the change.

Editorials: Why National Popular Vote Is a Bad Idea | Curtis Gans/Huffington Post

As the National Popular Vote (NPV) movement steps up its effort to impose a direct election for president, attempting to enlist states with a sufficient number of electors to constitute a majority (268) and to bind them to the winner of the national popular vote, those states considering the proposal might first reflect on the nightmare aftermath of the 2000 presidential election.

Because there was a difference of less than 1,000 tabulated votes between George W. Bush and Al Gore in one state, Florida, the nation watched as 6 million votes were recounted by machine, several hundred thousand were recounted by hand in counties with differing recount standards, partisan litigators fought each other in state and federal courts, the secretary of state backed by the majority of state legislators (all Republicans) warred with the state’s majority Democratic judiciary — until 37 days after the election the U.S. Supreme Court, in a bitterly controversial 5-4 decision effectively declared Bush the winner.

Editorials: Is Rick Perry Right That the Seventeenth Amendment Was a Mistake? | Vikram David Amar/Verdict.Justia

Among the many provocative things Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has said is that the American people “mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century . . . by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment).”

In this column, we analyze why the Seventeenth Amendment—providing for direct election of U.S. Senators—came about, and whether it would be a good and/or workable idea, as Perry suggests, to repeal it.

The Original Constitution and the Provision for State Legislative Election of Senators

Most historians and legal commentators agree on the basic story of Senate election methods. In 1787, the Framers and ratifiers of the original Constitution chose legislative election largely to safeguard the existence and interests of the state governments.