Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canada's evolution to a two party state

Canada's political left should unite if they want electoral success.

The NDP may manage to split left leaning Liberals, but I think they are more likely to court and win over the Greens, as their actual philosophies are much more closely aligned. The Greens must be frustrated in both the total lack of electoral success and the antics of Liberal Senate wannabe Elizabeth May, so I think they will be receptive to overtures.

However, the big turning point will happen post 2014, when new seats are created in the House and it becomes possible for any party to win a majority without seats in Quebec. This will marginalize the BQ, and Quebec voters will abandon the BQ in droves to keep a “seat at the table” in Canada's Parliament. Since the NDP is a Social Democratic party and the BQ is a National Socialist party, the BQ voters will move to the NDP as the national party with the closest political philosophy.

Will everyone on the political Left want to join or merge with the NDP? of course not. Given that 51% of the Greens reject it, there are still 49% of Green voters on the table (and I think the 51% is the older, more libertarian “Greens” from the founding days). After all, not 100% of the Reformers or PC party moved over to the CPC when it was founded, and stranded remnants of the Greens, BQ and LPC will probably wash up on the beach between now and 2014 depending on how smart the NDP are and how fast they work should they decide to read this post and act on it! (Anyone want to forward this to Jack Layton? Heh).

The core philosophies or ideologies of the NDP will appeal more to the Greens and BQ than anyone else, and only the NDP has the critical mass of operatives, money and political experience to actually do this. Certainly if the Progressives want to finally gain political power, this combination makes the most sense, uniting similar groups into a single national party rather than several marginal and regional parties.

This also makes the choice very clear to all Canadians on election day, a clear decision between the Classical Liberal philosophies of the CPC (however much they honour them in the breach) and the Progressive philosophies of the new Socialist Alliance Party. The post 2014 landscape will be much clearer for all.

“Unite the Left” will certainly take a while, how long did it take to go from Reform vs PC to Alliance vs PC to merger?

The BQ have no real incentive to merge today, but their voter base will see the changes in the wind after 2014, that should start the process of an NDP/BQ merger, or an NDP takover as former BQ voters move to the NDP to keep a seat at the table.

The Greens will probably come to the NDP if asked nicely (i.e. offered some real incentives), and a large fraction of their voter base will follow since the NDP offers pretty much the same ideology. This is probably something the NDP will have to initiate and manage to completion, and yes, it is something of a wild card as to how and when this can happen. Left leaning Liberals might start flocking to the Socialist Alliance Party in a sort of reversal of the former NDP players shifting to the Liberals since they will follow political power, and a rapidly growing Socialist Party will certainly be an attractive force compared to the constant bickering and searches for a new “Dear Leader” that the Liberals have been reduced to. After all, who will have a better chance at getting the keys to the treasury?

Will this happen tomorrow? No, of course not. Many Liberals are clinging to the idea that the Young Dauphin will be their “Dear Leader” who takes them back to power (and the ones who don’t are probably gathering around the Bob Rae/Power Corp faction). This fight will take some time to play out. There are five years to go before seat reapportion becomes mandatory (and the Prime Minister can upset the entire timeline by bringing in legislation creating the new seats any time between now and 2014), which I see as the trigger. Jack Layton could start the process sooner by reaching out to the Greens, and maybe to disaffected left Liberals, but the big shift won’t come until Quebec voters see that it is really possible to have a Parliamentry majority without having seats in Quebec.
Two notes here:

1. The rush from the BQ might take place right after the 2014 period, or they might need to be “convinced” of their irrelevance in one post 2014 sitting of Parliament, but the Quebec voters will indeed move.

2. “National Socialist” in its correctly political meaning: this is a Socialist party which divides the spoils on the basis of “ethnicity” rather than “class”, “gender”, “victim hood” or other non racial group identifiers.

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