Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who is well connected and knowledgeable about Federal politics. The thoughts immediately turned to election prognostications. This election has a strange feel to it – kind of like people feel that they should be interested in it – even if they aren’t. Welcome to my series of thoughts on Federal Election 2011.
Why are we having this election at all? The answer is simple:
This election is NOT about the well being of the country. This election IS about the well being of the parties and the party leaders. To put it simply we are having this election because:
– Harper wants a Conservative majority government
– Ignatieff wants to be Prime Minister
– Layton wants to matter to something beyond the NDP
Political parties are private organizations whose activities are largely funded by Canadian taxpayers. Consider this:
– the election of 2011 is an activity orchestrated by The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP which will cost Canadian taxpayers in excess of 300 million dollars (Query Mr. Layton – should this 300 million not have gone to the poor instead?)
– political parties receive $1.95 from the taxpayers for each vote their party receives
Canada’s registered political parties are a tax on the democratic process. Perhaps one should consider voting for either unregistered political parties or Independent Candidates.
In any case, here are some thoughts which could be a starting point for election analysis.
1. The Conservatives have nowhere to go but down.
2. Mr. Harper is campaigning very defensively. Remember what happened to General Motors? His primary advantage is that that the election period is only 36 days. I believe that his support would erode with a longer time frame..
3. The Liberals are a party with nowhere to go but up.
4. Mr. Ignatieff is perceived as a weak leader. Remember that the most dangerous person in the fight is the person with nothing to lose.
5. In the case of the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP the individual candidates are basically irrelevant. The Conservatives waited a full week before even bothering to put their candidates on their site. Occasionally, a party will override the wishes of a local riding association and install a “parachute candidate”. That said, for the most part, a Liberal, Conservative or NDP candidate is the mechanism you use to vote for the party or the leader.
6. Because the Bloc will receive the Quebec votes, it is irrelevant to any election analysis. When one analyzes the results of an election in Canada, one simply subtracts the Quebec votes. The Bloc is relevant to the extent its votes can be added to the votes of other parties to affect the balance of power in Parliament.
7. The Green Party is rising in popular support. Numerically the Green party will receive a large number of votes. That said, in a “first past the post system”, it is unlikely that they will win any seats.
The Green Party is the only party where the individual candidates matter. I have been very impressed with the quality of many of the Green Party Candidates. Because the Greens are not the Conservatives, Liberals or NDP and because they have recruited good candidates, they will continue to do better and better. In the 2008 election, in Toronto Danforth, the Green Party candidate did better than the Conservative candidate placing third behind the NDP (Jack Layton) and the Liberal candidate. This year, in Toronto Danforth, the Green Party is well organized and has a superb candidate in Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. For the Greens this is good news and bad news:
The Good News – This is a riding where the Greens could make a significant breakthrough.
The Bad News – The significant breakthrough means that the best she can do is place second. That said, a second place finish for the Greens in Toronto Danforth is possible and a huge victory.
That’s all for now .