Strategic Voting – To Split the vote or not, that is the question

Strategic Voting – To Avoid Splitting The Vote

The Green Party and Green Party supporters have the potential to make  a big  difference in the May 2 election. The Green Party is on a growth trajectory and  may become a victim of its own success. Although the Greens are unlikely to win many seats (if  any), they are likely to have an influence on the outcome of this election. Green Party supporters are most likely to take  support from the Liberals  and NDP – increasing the chance  of  a Conservative being elected – and potentially giving the Conservatives their  coveted majority.  The Conservatives, could get the same number percentage  of votes as  in 2008 and win a majority. To put it simply:

As goes the Green Party, So go the Conservatives!

It’s interesting that in the United States Ralph Nader ran for president as the Green Party Candidate (no affiliation with the Green Party of Canada). Some argued that the small number of votes he received (presumably at the expense of Al Gore), were responsible for giving George W. Bush the presidency.

What’s A Poor Green Party Supporter To Do?

As the above dilemma indicates, a number  of Green Party supporters  are  aware that by voting for the Green Party, they may be electing the Conservatives. This demonstrates the problem of the “first past the post system”  which will certainly be reevaluated. But, that is down the road. The question is what should  voters  do now? Vote for the Green Party with their heart, or vote  for a Liberal  with their  head?

The following considerations may be  important:

1. To Vote For A Liberal Is  To Vote Against Something And Not For Something

For a Green Party supporter to vote  for  a Liberal, is to vote against a  Conservative. I am reminded that when Rocco Rossi,  exited the race for Toronto’s Mayor, he urged voters to “vote for something, not against someone”.

A Green supporter who votes  for a Liberal  is voting against something and not for something.

2. A Vote For A Liberal Is A Vote Against Local Representation

Although the Green Party appears to gives its candidates freedom and autonomy, the Liberals  give their candidates neither freedom of judgment nor autonomy. When it comes to the Liberals: when the leader  says jump – the candidate says “how  high”? This also means a strategic vote against the Conservatives is also a vote again riding representation.

3. A Vote For A Liberal  May Result In Mr. Ignatieff Becoming Prime Minister

There is a saying: “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know”. Everybody except Conservatives believe that a Conservative majority would be the worst option. But, what is the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives? Both parties have demonstrated contempt for democracy. There is no reason to believe that the Liberals would be better at managing the economy (and there is reason to believe that they would be worse). Neither the Liberals or Conservatives give  the local  MPs  any autonomy – meaning that under neither scenario  will the riding get local representation. At the present time only those  ridings that elect independent candidates benefit from strong local representation.
4. Only A Majority Government Will Avoid A Coalition Government

It is unlikely that the Liberals  could  win a majority government.  It is possible, (but I believe unlikely) that the Conservatives could  win a majority. Remember  that any government that is a minority government will be a coalition government – meaning that the parties must come together to vote on specific bills. The self-proclaimed “Harper Government” has  been operating as a coalition government. It has always required  the support of at least  one other party.

5. A “Reckless” Coalition Is A Coalition Where Parties  Agree To Vote  Together From The Outset

Mr. Ignatieff has made it clear that he will not seek a “reckless” coalition with other parties. I don’t see that he has to. If the Harper government does not have a majority, the other parties (which command a majority) can come together to topple the government. For example, the Governor General could simply ask Mr. Ignatieff to form a government. He would then be in a minority government situation (which is exactly where the Conservatives are now). The precedent for this is the Ontario  in the 1980s where David Peterson and Bob Rae came together to topple the Conservative government of Frank  Miller. Mr. Peterson, became Premier and ran a minority government (relying on the support  of the NDP).

6. A Vote For The Greens Is A Long Term Investment in Democracy

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

– John F. Kennedy”

Much has been made of the “Harper Government”  contempt for democracy. None of the mainstream parties  respects the role of MPs or the principle that MPs should be responsible to their  constituents. This is demonstrated by a centralization of power in the office of the Prime Minister and “whipped votes”.  Contempt for democracy will continue as long as Canada clings to the “first past the post” voting system and any of the main parties form the government.

The only way that Canada’s government can change is through the vote. Assuming that the Greens exhibit a continuing respect for democracy, a vote for the Greens is a “long term” investment in the kind of representative democracy that Green party supporters want.

To put it simply: if you don’t vote for the Green Party candidates, they cannot win.

7. A Vote From The Heart Is A Vote That Stands For Something …

Barack Obama once noted that people were always accusing the Democrats of not standing for anything. In a rare display of wit, he countered  by saying:

“That’s not true, the problem is that we do stand for anything.”

The Ontario  Liberal  Government of David Peterson was turfed  out of office because it didn’t stand for anything (other than power for the sake of power). It  is unclear what the Liberal Party of Michael Ignatieff actually stands for (other than wanting to be the government).

Therefore, a vote for the Liberals  is NOT a “vote for something.”

Therefore, If you believe that the Green Party stands for something,

I suggest that a vote from your heart may be the same as a vote from your head!


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