Update: We can now remove the question mark. It’s on.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper, heading a minority Conservative government since the January, 2006, election, will seek an election before the end of this year. It could come as soon as 14 October.
It is routine for minority governments in Canada to call early elections when they think they can become majority governments. In fact, past minority governments have averaged about a year and half in office, and most of them have then won reelection with a majority. However, Harper had promised a move to fixed-election dates. As the Vancouver Sun notes:
Bill C-16, which amended the Elections Act, set October 2009 as the next federal election date. But it does contain a clause that gives the Governor General the right to dissolve Parliament if the government does not retain its confidence.
So, will the Governor General refuse? If so, would Harper then fake a loss of confidence?
Assuming Canada has an election coming soon, the bigger question is, will Harper and his party win a majority? The current cabinet has the second smallest parliamentary share of any cabinet of 187 first-past-the-post elections I studied for a recent book chapter. Perhaps surprisingly, its small parliamentary basis is why it has lasted so long: it had a lot of convincing to do to have a real shot at a majority. The party would need to pick up 28 seats (out of 308). Even if it wound up short, it could be worth it for the party to go for it while the polls are relatively favorable.