Pedro Magalhães

Margens de Erro

Hitch on Portugal 1974, from "Hitch-22: A Memoir" (2010)

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 4:53 pm4 Comments

"The cultural element made it seem as if the best of 1968 was still relevant. One of the precipitating prerevolutionary moments had been the publication of a feminist manifesto by three women, all of whom were named Maria, and 'The Three Marias' became an exciting example of what womanhood could do when faced with a theocratic oligarchy that had treated them as breeding machines not far advanced above the level of chattel. Sex, long repressed, was to be scented very strongly on the wind: I remember in particular the only partly satirical Movimento da Esquerda Libidinosa or “Movement of the Libidinous Left,” with its slogan “Somos um partido sexocrático,” whose evident objective was the frantic making-up of lost time. The best revolutionary poster I saw — perhaps the best I have ever seen — expressed this same thought in a rather less erotic way: it showed a modest Portuguese family in traditional dress, being introduced to a receiving line of new friends who included Socrates, Einstein, Beethoven, Spinoza, Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, Louis Armstrong, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. (There are many people in much richer countries who are still putting off this rendezvous.)"














"The leader of the Socialist Party, Mario Soares, a man whom I would normally have regarded as a pallid and compromising Social Democrat, summarized the situation with some pith. I still have the question he put to me double-underlined in my notebook from Lisbon. 'If the army officers are so much on the side of the people, why do they not put on civilian clothes?' It was a question not just for that moment.

I began to be extremely downcast by the failure, or was it refusal, of my International Socialist comrades to see what was staring them right in the face. Intoxicated by the admittedly very moving attempts at personal liberation and social 'self-management,' they could not or would not appreciate how much of this was being manipulated by a dreary conformist sect with an ultimate loyalty to Russia. Thus I found myself one evening in late March 1975 at a huge rally in the Campo Pequeno bullring in Lisbon, organized by the distinctly cautious Socialist Party but with the invigorating slogan: 'Socialismo Si! Dictatura Nao! ' The whole arena was a mass of red flags, and the other chants echoed the original one. There were calls for the right of chemical workers to vote, a banner that read 'Down With Social Fascism' and another that expressed my own views almost perfectly in respect of foreign intervention in Portugal: 'Nem Kissinger, Nem Brezhnev!'

I took my old friend Colin MacCabe along to this event. For his numberless sins he was at the time a member of the Communist Party, and at first employed an old Maoist catchphrase — 'waving the red flag to oppose the red flag”— to dismiss what he was seeing. But gradually he became more impressed and as the evening began to crystallize he unbent so far as to say: 'Sometimes the wrong people can have the right line.' I thought then that he had said more than he intended, and myself experienced the remark as a sort of emancipation from the worry, which did still occasionally nag at me, that by taking up some out-of-line position I would find myself  'in bed with,' as the saying went, unsavory elements. It’s good to throw off this sort of moral blackmail and mind-forged manacle as early in life as one can.

The sequel takes very little time to tell: the Communists and their ultra-Left allies hopelessly overplayed their hand by trying for a barracks-based coup, the more traditional and rural and religious elements of Portuguese society rose in an indignant counter-revolution, a sort of equilibrium was restored and — e finita la commedia. The young radicals who had come from all over Europe to a feast of sex and sunshine and anti-politics folded their tents and doffed their motley and went home. It was the last fall of the curtain on the last act of the 1968 style, with its 'take your desires for reality' wall posters and its concept of work as play.

For me, it was also the end of the line with my old groupuscule. I had developed other disagreements, too, as the old and open-minded 'International Socialists' began to mutate into a more party-line sect. But Portugal had broken the mainspring for me, because it had caused me to understand that I thought democracy and pluralism were good things in themselves, and ends in themselves at that, rather than means to another end."

 All the rest on Portugal is a good read, numerous Portuguese spelling mistakes and all.

by Pedro Magalhães

Guillermo O’Donnell (1936-2011)

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 4:02 pm4 Comments




















In 1998, I invited Guillermo O'Donnell and Richard Gunther for a conference at the Catholic University in Lisbon, in the context of their (slightly stingy) debate about "democratic consolidation". I was but a mere graduate student at the time, Richard was my adviser, but I had never met or contacted Guillermo before. Many people had warned me he was a bit of a grumpy character and tended to make intolerable demands concerning travelling. But to their (and my) surprise, he accepted immediately. The conference was very nice and Guillermo was nothing but delightful and kind, not to mention prodigiously brilliant. I met him (and his wonderful wife Gabriela) several times after that, including in an epic Club de Madrid meeting where I worked as his assistant. He was an academic giant, a true progressive democrat, a brave man, and a wonderful person.

by Pedro Magalhães

Marktest, 15-19 Nov., N=804, Tel.

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 3:22 pm4 Comments

Voting intention:

PSD: 45.4% (+3.8)
PS: 19.7% (=)
CDU: 7.9% (-2.6)
CDS-PP: 5.0% (-0.3)
BE: 4.1% (-0.1)
Others+Blank: 17.9% (-0.8)

PM approval: 45.5% (up more than 9 pts from October). All results here.

by Pedro Magalhães

Spain: results, polls, and forecast

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 2:52 pm4 Comments

PP obtained 44.6% of the vote and 186 (53%) MP's, up 4.7 points in votes and 9 points in MP's in relation to 2008. The results basically match (slightly surpassing) those of 2000, when PP had obtained its first absolute majority, but are nonetheless the best results ever for the party. Still, expectations were for an even (slightly) better result. A simple and rough (not taking sample sizes into account) average of the very last polls (those whose fieldwork took place after November 7th) gave PP a 45.9% average. Fernández-i-Marín's more sophisticated approach generated the same average, with an interval between 45% and 46.8%.

PSOE obtained 28.7% of the vote and 110 (31.4% of) MP's, down more than 15 percentage points in votes and 17 points in MP's. It's the party's worst result ever. Although the debacle was predicted, somewhat better was expected. A simple average of the very last polls was 30.6%, Fernández-i-Marín estimated 31.1%, and our forecast based on May 2011 data estimated 34.5%. Of the 86 polls published since January 2011, only 4 estimated PSOE at 28.7% or less, and only one of them is recent (a study by the Ortega y Gasset Foundation).

IU obtained 6.9% of the vote and 3.1% of MP's, a definitive improvement over 2008 and the party's best result since 1996. Extremely close to what the polls suggested. CiU got 4.2% of the vote and 4.6% of MP's (better than expected on the basis of polls) and UPyD got 4.7% of the vote and 5 MP's (also better than what the last polls suggested). Overall, then, PP did slightly worse, PSOE rather worse, and smaller parties better than expected.

In 2008, PP and PSOE captured 83% of the vote and and more then 90% of MP's. Yesterday, they got 73% of the vote and 85% of MP's. Turnout decreased, from 74% to 72%.

by Pedro Magalhães

Eurosondagem, 10-15 Nov., N=1025, Tel.

Posted November 18th, 2011 at 3:25 pm4 Comments

PSD: 36.3% (-0.6)
PS: 29.6% (+0.4)
CDS-PP: 12.1% (-0.4)
CDU: 9.0% (+0.2)
BE: 6.1% (-0.2)

Here. Changes in evaluations of party leaders and institutions are equally small. Interestingly, leaders are mostly evaluated positively, while institutions are evaluated negatively (in the piece, there's a typo in the parliament's net evaluation result).


by Pedro Magalhães

Spain: the last polls

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 7:40 pm4 Comments

The Spanish election is less than a week away. In the last few days, several polls coming out from several different sources. Here's the updated graph, for the three major parties, since Rubalcaba became PSOE's candidate (smoother 25% bandwidth):




















The smoother seems to capture a slight decline for PP and a rise for IU, but that could be a function of the particular mix of companies that have done polls recently and the kind of "house effects" attached to their polls. A better way to ascertain this is to regress scores on dummies for companies (leaving CIS as the reference category) and dummies for time periods (months, in this case, considering the small number of polls). The results suggest that:

1. After their peak in April, PSOE lost about 3 points until today and has remained mostly stable since September.
2. Estimates clean of house effects for PP show a very small decline from October to November (.6%) but that only leaves them at the point they already were in September. Effect of the debate? An hypothesis, but impossible to say just on the basis of these data, really.
3. IU is the only party experiencing significant changes recently, up more than 1 p.p. since September.

Starting tomorrow, publication of polls in the media is not allowed in Spain.

P.S.- For estimates resulting from a Bayesian state-space model for pooling poll data first developed by Simon Jackman, see here.

by Pedro Magalhães

Polls on the Spanish debate

Posted November 8th, 2011 at 4:46 pm4 Comments

12 million people watched the debate, for a 54% share, down 5 points and 1 million from the last Zapatero/Rajoy debate (which was, however, the most watched debate in Spanish democratic history). Many polls, apparently, as reported here. But pay attention, that some of these "polls" seem to be online voluntary votes. The ones below are those I could establish actually used randomly selected samples. So who won?

1. El Pais/Metroscopia, N=501, Phone. Rajoy: 46%; Rubalcaba: 41%.
2. Antena 3 and Onda Cero/TNS, N=?, Phone. Rajoy: 43.9%; Rubalcaba: 33.1%.
3. El Mundo/Sigma Dos, N=?, Phone. Rajoy: 51.4%; Rubalcaba: 44.2%.
4. La Sexta/Invymark, N=1100, Phone. Rajoy: 48.6%; Rubalcaba: 39.9%.

Little doubts here, although one might argue that Rubalcaba did less badly than one would expect from current voting intentions. Don't forget, however, that these are self-selected samples too in a way, in this case, of those voters who watched the debate in whole or in part. And these "flash" polls take place very quickly after the debate, which makes fieldwork difficult and is certainly associated with low contact and response rates, with what that implies for sample quality. And that the effects of debates are thought to be relatively small. Etc.

BTW, Publico.es has a nice Twittometer.

by Pedro Magalhães

Spanish polls update

Posted November 4th, 2011 at 2:14 pm4 Comments

New polls:

1. By Sigma Dos, with fieldwork ending October 31st, showing almost no change in relation to previous poll finished 3 days before.

2. The new CIS study is out. The last one, from July, had PP at 43% and PSOE at 36%. Now, in congruence with what other polls have shown since then, that lead has expanded: 47% to PP and 30% to PSOE,

by Pedro Magalhães

Posted November 3rd, 2011 at 5:37 pm4 Comments

Referendum: a call for democracy and citizen participation a ploy to force ND to accept the deal.

by Pedro Magalhães

More (and probably last) in the Greek referendum

Posted November 3rd, 2011 at 5:35 pm4 Comments

Not going to happen. Had I mentioned this already?

by Pedro Magalhães