《经济学人》:重新划分选区之争
日期:2011-05-09 10:09

(单词翻译:单击)

Redistricting rows
重新划分选区之争

Not so easy
并不容易

Republican hopes of snagging extra seats following last year’s census look doomed to disappointment
共和党人想要通过去年的人口普查数据再获得一些新席位,不大可行

May 5th 2011 | AUSTIN, TEXAS | from the print edition

..REDISTRICTING, so the old saying goes, is when politicians get to choose their voters. Every ten years, following the national census, each state must redraw the constituency boundaries for both its members of Congress and its state legislators. In most states, the party in power controls both those processes, either directly through the state legislature or indirectly through the appointment of members to commissions charged with the job.

老话讲,重新划分选区就是政治家选择投票者。每隔十年,在全国人口普查之后,各个州要为国会代表以及州立法委员重划选区界限。在大部分州,执政的党派决定着选区界限的划定,或直接通过州立法机关、或间接地通过指派人员处理这项事务。

The whole business has been riven with conflicts of interest for at least two centuries. This time around, though, Republicans are in charge in far more states than Democrats, so should be able to weight the political odds in their favour for the next decade. But that is proving trickier than normal, for a variety of reasons.

这项事务为利益冲突成为的焦点已经至少有两百年了。这一次,共和党执掌的州大大多于民主党,所以共和党应该会争取在接下来的十年时间里获得政治优势。不过,有许多原因导致情况非常复杂。

Take Texas. Republicans control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature, so can draw new maps without interference from Democrats. That power is all the more coveted since Texas will receive four new seats in the House of Representatives at the next election, thanks to the rapid growth of its population over the past decade. Partisan Republicans would like all four districts drawn with Republican majorities. But as Sherri Greenberg of the University of Texas at Austin points out, even in Texas, there are not enough Republicans to create four secure new Republican districts.

以德克萨斯州为例。共和党掌管政府,又控制了两大州立法内庭,所以共和党能够不受民主党干扰自行确定新的选区图。由于德州人口在这十年内增长迅速,下次选举将在众议院新增四个席位,所以共和党的这项权利可以说是无人不垂涎。但德州大学的雪莉·格林伯格(Sherri Greenberg)指出,就算在德克萨斯州,也没有足够的共和党成员以新建四个稳定的共和党选区。

That is partly because Republicans won almost every marginal seat in the state at the last election, leaving themselves already thinly spread. Democrats now hold just nine of Texas’s 32 House seats. “The elections accomplished what we were afraid they were going to try to accomplish by gerrymandering,” says Mike Villarreal, the most senior Democrat on the redistricting committee in the state House of Representatives. That outcome, in turn, was underpinned by a previous Republican gerrymander. In 2003, shortly after taking control of the state legislature for the first time in over a century, Republicans redrew the congressional map in a way that cost the Democrats six seats at the subsequent election, and more since. That leaves Republicans with few plausible targets in the Democratic congressional delegation.

这样的情形,在一定程度上是由于共和党在上次选举中几乎赢得了所有的边际席位,所以他们的分布已经很稀疏。在德克萨斯州总共32个席位中,民主党只有9个席位。州议院选区重划委员会最资深的民主党人员麦克·维拉里尔(Mike Villarreal)说,“选举印证了我们所担心的事,他们真的通过不公正地划分选区赢了我们。”那次选举的结果,正是之前共和党进行不公正选区划分的结果。2003年,共和党一百多年来第一次坐镇州立法机关,还没过多久,便通过选区重划分让民主党损失了六个席位,并且让它以后继续损失席位。最后,共和党针对民主党国会代表的可行目标就非常少了。

To make matters trickier for the Republicans, some 90% of the growth in the state’s population over the past decade has come from minorities, who tend to vote Democratic. Indeed, minorities are now in the majority in Texas, with Hispanics alone accounting for about 38% of the population—although their share of legal residents of voting age is smaller. The racial divide in Texas politics is quite stark: there are only two state House seats with a white majority represented by Democrats, a legislator points out, and only three minority seats represented by Republicans.

更让共和党不顺的,是德州人口的增长中大概有90%是少数民族,他们更偏向民主党。事实上,如今在德州,少数民族才是大多数,光拉美裔人口就占总人口的38%(尽管拉美裔人口中达到合法选举年龄的人数比例较低)。德州政治的种族区别非常明显——有一位立法委员指出,州议院民主党拥有的白人席位只有两个,而共和党拥有的少数民族席位只有三个。

.A latter-day Governor Gerry might respond by distributing Hispanic voters across all seats to minimise their influence. But that is a risky tactic in two respects. First, the state’s demographics are changing fast enough that an overly ambitious partisan gerrymander is likely to come unstuck during its ten-year lifespan. The last map the Republicans drew secured them a comfortable majority of 88 of the 150 seats in the state House in 2002, but only 76 in 2008. Republicans involved in redistricting this time around say they cannot be too aggressive if their handiwork is to have any hope of surviving.

如果是格雷州长,在这种情形下,可能会将尽量拉美裔人口分散开来,减少他们的影响。但这一策略有两大危险。首先,本州的人口分布情况变化很快,如果偏向某个党派的选区划分进行得太过,在未来的十年里可能不能收效。共和党上次划分的选区让他们在2002年轻松赢得州议院的多数席位——总共150个席位当中赢得88个,可是在2008年,就只获得76个席位。这次,参与重新划分选区的共和党成员说,他们不能做得太过,因为划分的结果只怕很快又受新变化影响。

Moreover, the Voting Rights Act, originally intended to prevent the disenfranchisement of black voters in the South, makes it difficult to marginalise minority voters.It enjoins states to create districts dominated by minorities where feasible, and bars them from reducing minorities’ overall electoral clout.Trey Martinez Fischer, who heads the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House, says his group will sue if the Republicans produce a congressional map with fewer than two new Hispanic districts.The fact that Republicans just pushed through a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives that fell far short of the five new Hispanic seats he was demanding will also probably spark lawsuits. “Redistricting in Texas is a two-step,” he says, “first in the legislature, then in the courthouse.”

此外,最初为保护南方黑人选举权设立的《选举权法》,防止了对少数民族选民的边缘化。 该法案命令各州在可行的地区,为少数民族聚居地区专门设立选区,禁止各州通过任何手段削弱少数民族选民的总体力量。据德克萨斯州州议院美籍墨西哥裔立法团队的领袖特雷·马丁内斯·费舍尔(Trey Martinez Fischer)说,如果共和党划分的新选区地图没有新设两个以上的拉美裔选区,美籍墨西哥裔立法团队将提起诉讼。共和党人刚提出新的德州议会代表选区计划,该计划远远没有满足费舍尔五个新的拉美裔位置的要求,对此,他可能也会提起诉讼。费舍尔说,“对德州进行选区划分要分两步走,第一步是立法机构,第二步是法院。”

Democrats are especially enthusiastic about  legal challenges  to redistricting plans this year, since the federal government, which has considerable leeway to interpret and enforce the Voting Rights Act, is in Democratic hands. (Republican administrations, as it happens, have presided over all previous redistricting cycles since the act was passed in 1965, with a Republican in the White House in 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001.) Some Texan Republicans are already musing about bypassing the Department of Justice, and obtaining the necessary approval of their electoral maps from a federal court instead. But most seem to think the best defence against a legal assault is to produce a relatively timid redistricting plan in the first place.

民主党人对今年重新划分选区的法律障碍颇为热心,因为民主党掌权的联邦政府有相当大的空间解释以及执行《选举权法》。(自1965年该法案通过以来,1971年,1981年,1991年,到2001年,每次重新划分选区,联邦政府都是共和党执政。)一些德克萨斯州共和党成员已经开始考虑绕过司法部,争取联邦法院批准选区地图。但大多数共和党成员都认为要防止被起诉,最好还是起初就提出较公正的选区计划。

That suits most incumbents just fine. While they would be happy in principle to see their party’s ranks swell, they are seldom willing to help by allowing their own seats to become less secure. Instead, Republican congressmen and state representatives in Texas seem eager to shore up their own districts by jettisoning minority neighbourhoods, university towns and other left-leaning voters. That is understandable: given the scale of the Republican landslide in Texas last year, simply retaining all the existing Republican seats in next year’s elections will be a struggle, however the maps are drawn.

这样的打算比较适合在位者,他们当然想要看到自己的党派壮大,可是基本上都不愿意拿自己的位置做赌注。德克萨斯州的共和党议员以及州代表,热衷于巩固自己的地区,放弃少数民族聚居的邻近地区、大学城等偏左的选民。这一点可以理解,去年共和党人在德克萨斯州获得了压倒性胜利,不管新选区图怎么划分,在明年的选举中,要保住现有的共和党席位都是个挑战。

All across the country, Republicans are afflicted by similar problems. There are some bright spots for them, such as North Carolina, where the newly Republican legislature is likely to be able to flip a few Democratic seats in Congress by rejigging the boundaries. But there are also trickier prospects, such as Illinois, where Democrats will probably succeed in undermining several freshmen Republicans. In Florida, perhaps the most glaring Republican gerrymander of the previous cycle, a new law on redistricting is likely to crimp the state legislators’ most partisan impulses.

在全国其它各州,共和党人面临着类似的问题。有些地方他们有明显优势,比如北卡罗莱纳州,新的共和党立法机构可能通过改变选区界限,争取一些现属民主党的席位。可在有些地方,他们可能要遇到挑战,比如伊利诺伊斯州,民主党可以争取到一些共和党政坛新手的席位,另外在共和党上次重划选区做得最过的佛罗里达州,新颁布了一项法律禁止州立法委员偏私一党之利。

All told, both Democrats and Republicans agree, redistricting for Congress is unlikely to alter the balance much, with Republicans focusing for the most part on consolidating the gains they made at the last election. Despite the Republicans’ notional domination of the process, there will be few direct Democratic casualties. That will only be scant consolation to the Democrats, however, who will still face the daunting task of dislodging a mighty Republican majority of 49 in the House of Representatives.

总之,民主党也好,共和党也好,都认为共和党会尽最大力巩固上次选举赢到的席位,所以选区重划不可能对现在的平衡带来太大的改变。共和党对这次的选区重划只有名义上的掌控,所以民主党基本上不会因为选区重划而失去席位,不过,这对民主党也不算什么安慰,它面前的任务还重着呢,要改变共和党在众议院中超过了49个席位的主导位置,民主党可以说是任重而道远。

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