Canada 2021

So election day is here already in the Canadian federal general election of 2021. The election was called in mid August, but otherwise would not have been due till 2023.

The final CBC Poll Tracker has the nationwide votes really close, at 31.5% to 31.0%, the Liberals being barely in front. The NDP is on 19.1%. For comparison, in 2019, these parties’ vote percentages were 33.1, 34.4, and 15.9, respectively. Note that the Conservatives led in the votes, but the Liberals led in seats (157 to the Conservative’s 121 and NDP’s 24). The Poll Tracker for the other parties has the following vote percentages (with last election’s results in parentheses) has the PPC on 7.0 (1.6), Bloc Quebecois on 6.8 (7.7), and Greens 3.5 (6.5).

The Poll Tracker’s seat projections currently have Liberals at 155, Conservatives 119, NDP 32, BQ 31, Green 1, PPC 0. The “likely” range for the Liberals extends to 168, which would be two seats short of the majority that PM Justin Trudeau was seeking by calling this election. If they have a really good result and there is some poling error or last-minute changes of minds (for those who have not already voted early), they might yet make it. On the other hand, the likely range for the party extends as low as 121 in the projection, while that for the Conservatives extends from 105 to 143. It would not be a surprise to see the NDP’s actual vote and seat numbers drop from the projection–their final “likely” range is 24 to 48 (indicating they also have some significant potential upside). They have been declining a little bit in projections in recent days, and they came short of the final projection in 2019.

So, unless there is a surprise, the results will not be fundamentally different from the last time. That would be good news for the Seat Product Model (SPM), as the projected outcome is an effective number of seat-winning parties (NS) around 2.84. For an assembly the size of Canada’s, with M=1, the expected result is NS=2.64. In 2019, the actual result was 2.79, a small excess over the model expectation. Additionally, the SPM expects the largest party to have 48.3% of the seats (163), and the projected outcome of this election is 45.9%, also a small deviation from the expectation, albeit a potentially consequential one politically. On the effective number of vote-earning parties, the current poll tracker projection works out to about 4.1! That is far above expectation. The SPM would expect 3.22; as was already the case in 2019 and indeed earlier, but even more so now, Canadian voters are not playing along with the FPTP game anymore, even if the translation of their votes into seats is still giving them the parliamentary party system expected for FPTP, given their assembly size.

News flash: Canada still needs a new electoral system! Only with some kind of PR will they get the parliamentary party system closer to the one they vote for, instead of the the SPM says they “should” have.

As results come in, or as you have any questions or thoughts about this election, here is the “open planting hole.”

Please be advised that I will not be monitoring it after about my local sundown, as the holiday of Sukkot starts tonight. But the virtual orchard is always open.

8 thoughts on “Canada 2021

  1. You didn’t miss a thing: seat-wise very little changed nationwide relative to 2019, much in the same way as in 1965 with respect to 1963, and Justin Trudeau will remain as head of a minority government elected on yet another majority reversal. Over a million mail-in ballots will be tallied today and in the coming days, but they aren’t expected to change significantly the overall outcome, although they might flip some closely-fought contests.

  2. What would the election results had been if a preferential vote system had been used?

    Another reverse plurality, is this acceptable for a FPTP system?

    • I would argue that this is not necessarily a true reverse plurality. Obviously the Tories should have more seats than the Liberals and they both should have fewer seats.

      But if seats exactly matched votes, is there any conceivable path for anyone but Justin Trudeau to keep the confidence of the newly elected House for more than a few weeks?

      • I think getting into questions of whether the LPC would form government anyway go a bit beyond the question of what constitutes a “reverse plurality”. In any case I think the assumption that the NDP would vote no-confidence in a Conservative government might be justified, but given past experiences at the federal I don’t think we can take that for granted.

      • “Is there any conceivable path for anyone but Justin Trudeau to keep the confidence of the newly elected House for more than a few weeks?”

        Wrong question. In Canada it is quite clear that the incumbent government remains the government unless or until it resigns or is dismissed by the Governor General — in other words, the incumbent party has the first chance to decide if it wants to try to retain power. So if Trudeau had gotten a few less seats than the Conservatives, no, there was no real chance of a three-party alliance defeating him on the Throne Speech and taking over — although it would have been fascinating to see what the Conservatives would have bid for NDP support. (Little-known fact: in Ontario in 1985 the Conservatives did bid against the Liberals for NDP support, with no success.)

      • As others have already noted, yes, it should be considered a plurality reversal, because that term refers to the plain facts of the case: one party with a plurality of votes, a different party with a plurality of seats.

        It is, of course, a good point that even if the Conservatives had a few more seats than the Liberals, the Liberal minority government would be quite likely to survive. But that’s a stage beyond the process of turning votes cast into seats.

        It should also be noted that if the seats and votes matched more closely, it might be a different bargaining context within parliament (depending on what would have happened to NDP and other parties’ seats in such a scenario).

  3. Well the Canadian people have at least had a chance to show they have a sense of humour by electing a parliament with almost exactly the same distribution of seats among the parties.

    • Very unusual election to have in Canada where the previous election had the same distribution of seats among the parties, how common or rare is this worldwide?

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