Canada’s election Monday promises to be a fun one to watch. I can hardly wait!
Unless the polls–and I mean all of them–are way off in the measure of voter intentions, or its many mediocre-quality candidates and limited “get out the vote” capacity of the New Democrats in many ridings (districts) cause that party to under-perform significantly, we will be looking at a significantly changed composition of parliament. Most likely the Conservative seat share will not change a great deal, and will be just below 50%. But the NDP will have replaced the Liberals as the second party, and the Bloc Quebecois will have lost around half its seats (maybe even that of its leader).
That is not to say that the Conservatives could not yet eke out a majority. As noted at the EKOS polling blog on Friday, trends in Ontario could allow the Conservatives to win over 50% of the seats on only about a third of the nationwide votes. “It is hard to imagine what impact this would have on the Canadian public’s view of its first past the post system,” comments EKOS.
If there is no majority–and that seems most likely–the next parliament could be more dysfunctional than any of the recent minority parliaments, with less willingness on the part of any of the other parties to work with a Conservative government. Of course, we could see an NDP-Liberal government, or an NDP minority, although cabinets led by the second largest party are relatively rare (unless that party and another had cooperated in the election, which is absolutely not the case here).
Reflecting on some themes of previous threads, and especially the very thoughtful comment by Ross, I offer these pre-election questions and thoughts about the chances of a non-Conservative government forming when the newly elected House of Commons convenes:
Would the NDP be willing to rely on a collapsing Liberal party for its majority? For that matter, would the Liberals be willing to openly support any government after such a thrashing? The answer to both seems, based on patterns in “typical” coalition/minority parliaments, to be “probably not.”
And then there is the fact that the NDP will have a caucus, including (or should I say, especially) in Quebec made up of a lot of neophytes (and worse). It might not be an auspicious time to enter government. Better to wait for the next opportunity to bring down the Conservative minority in 2-3 years.
Please, someone, tell me why my analysis is wrong, and why Canada will have Prime Minister Jack Layton. Because that would be really interesting…