Saturday, August 23, 2008

Latvian pensions referendum is failing

Today is the referendum on a major increase in Latvian retirement benefits. Here is part 1 and part 2 of the background on the referendum, that I wrote a few months ago.

As usual with Latvian referendums, people opposed to the referendum proposition are skipping the vote, to push the turnout below the legal threshold at which the referendum is valid. So, the result will be 95%-99% "yes" but the real question is the turnout.

For the law to pass, the turnout must be at least 1/2 of the turnout in the most recent parliamentary election. That means that we need 453,730 voters, which is 30.65% of all eligible voters, for the vote to count. According to the Central Election Committee, we have:
  • a turnout of 0.59% in the first hour of voting (7am - 8am);
  • a turnout of 9.50% in the first 5 hours (7am - noon).
If the distribution of turnout over the day is like in previous referendums, this is insufficient. The 7am-noon turnout was:
Right now, we have a noon turnout that is 31% of the necessary one. Either we have a huge number of procrastinating voters (myself, I'm still thinking whether to vote "yes" or to skip the referendum for an effective "no" vote) or (more likely) the referendum is on its way to failing.

The next update on turnout is at 4pm. In previous referendums/elections, 4pm turnout was 69%-74% of the final one. 69% of the necessary 30.65% is 21.33%. If we are substantially below that at 4pm, we can be quite sure that the referendum has failed.

UPDATE (9:30pm): 8pm turnout numbers are out and, with only two hours left in voting (8pm-10pm), the turnout is 21%. It's now safe to say that the turnout is not going to jump to 30.65% in two hours. The referendum has failed.

UPDATE (3:00am): the turnout is 347044 or 23.45% of eligible voters. Everything has been counted, except for 4 voting places in Latvian embassies in America (due to time-zone difference), which should not affect the number much. Again, the referendum has failed and by a substantial amount. I will have a post-referendum post tomorrow.

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