09 June 2010

The Polls Say...

Regarding the proposed cooperation/coalition/merger of the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP, a recent survey gives us the following:

Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed favoured a non-compete pact between the two parties, wherein they would agree not to run candidates against each other in some ridings across the country.

When Stephane Dion gave Elizabeth May a free pass in the last election, and she still lost, the Liberals came under a lot of hostile fire--from without and within--for not running candidates in every riding. The argument is that as a truly national party, they should make every effort to field viable candidates and win in every battleground in the country. Imagine, then, carving up the electoral map and making concessions in every region and province in Canada, essentially throwing up their hands, waving the white flag, and saying, "You have a better chance of winning here than we do." It is outrageous to suggest it, and even moreso that such a margin of people actually thinks it's a good idea. I don't know how many of those 28% are Liberals, how many are NDP backers, and how many are mischievious Tories, but I am of the mindset that each of them are gravely mistaken in their line of thought. To throw seats to an opposing party before the election is even called is a preposterous idea, particularly given that there is no guarantee that conceding all the parked Liberal votes in a riding will flow to the NDP in sufficient numbers to trump the Tories. It's a high-stakes game with risks that are too great to play.

Fourteen per cent favoured a Liberal-NDP coalition government after the next election.

What isn't parsed out of this is the result of the election: is it another minority Conservative government where the combined forces of the Liberals & NDP give them a plurality of seats? A Liberal minority where a coalition produces a stronger minority, or even a majority? A situation in which there is a deadlock between the Tories and a coalition, leaving the balance of power with the Bloc Quebecois? There are unique challenges and opportunities with each one of these outcomes, very few of them desirable. Would Libby Davies get a spot with Foreign Affairs? Would Jack Layton get Industry? Fortunately only a meagre percentage of Canadians support this idea.

13 per cent said they’d prefer an outright merger of the two parties prior to the election.

Again, only very meagre support, likely because there are so many Canadians who occupy the centre/centre-right of the political spectrum that would not want to see the Liberals shift dramatically to the left and leave all the so-called "blue Liberals" without a real political home. The merger of the right worked because it was two parties going back to being one and claiming ownership of the entire half of the political spectrum. The Liberals and the NDP have enough substantive policy differences that a merger would be very unlikely unless both camps made significant concessions that would be tantamount to abandoning long-held principles for the sake of political expediency. While it would dramatically reform the landscape in Canada, making it much more similar to the American system, how do you merge: support for free trade with opposition to NAFTA; support for Afghanistan-type missions with condemnation of "George Bush's war"; support for Israel with not support for Israel; support for low business and corporate taxes with support for higher taxes on businesses and corporations. There's a pretty wide policy gap on some major issues that would be difficult to reconcile.

Another 30 per cent – including 50 per cent of Conservative supporters – said they would rather that the two parties not co-operate at all.

Count me included in this grouping. There is still a plurality opinion on sanity in this country. *whew*


Anonymous said...

A plurality on total non-co-op? Maybe overall, including the Con. voters. But among Liberal voters -- just 21%, and only 16% among NDP. I.e., even less than a mandate than the Con. gov't we all complain about. Love your sense of democracy.

RGM said...

This comments makes no sense. It's got nothing to do with my "sense of democracy" - these are cold, hard numbers. 30% of poll-responding Canadians do not want a coalition between the Liberals and the NDP. That number is higher than any of the other suggested outcomes. Therefore, it is a plurality by any measureable definition of the word.

My "sense of democracy" is very well-defined and quite firmly established. Your ability to comprehend words, however, is a little questionable.

Sure, we can go into whether or not these numbers translate well into a full national scope, sample sizes, blah blah blah, but on election day, you don't count what percentage of "Liberal supporters" vote Liberal to determine who becomes Prime Minister of Canada; you count all of the votes in all of the ridings for all candidates, and the party with the most overall ridings won wins. Unless there's a coalition. I wonder what Carolyn Parrish would call it...