Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canada votes

Canadians are going to the polls today to vote in a snap-election called after the liberal-led government lost a confidence motion in Parliament. Unfortunately, this one seems unlikely to go our way; the (centrist) Liberal party is polling a full ten percent behind the (centre-right) Conservatives, and with the corruption they have displayed in office (directing government advertising contracts to friends in exchange for kickbacks), they deserve to lose.

Canada uses FPP, which magnifies this sort of swing - but it also has strong minor parties with local power-bases (in the form of the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic party). The latest prediction is for the Conservatives to pick up 20 seats and the NDP 10, meaning a Conservative plurality with the Bloc holding the balance of power. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Canadian politics to know how coalition talks are likely to go.

Election results will be available from around 4pm NZ time here.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. Posted by Craig Ranapia : 1/24/2006 05:22:00 PM

Well, it certainly makes MMP look more attractive when it seems the NDP is likely to win around half the ridings of the Boc, despite winning almost twice their share of the popular vote.

Shit happens in both English and French.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 1/24/2006 05:23:00 PM

There will not be a coalition. Canadian parties are used to minority governments, but they rarely form coalitions. The minority government hopes to pick up a majority in the next election, unlike in the MMP system which makes a single party majority unlikely and so promotes coalition rather than minority government.

The major party which loses will probably be changing its leader. It is unlikely to want another election this year. In those circumstances a minority government, which is not too arrogant, can negotiate for support from others on a case by case basis and keep going for a year or two. If it does not mess up too spectacularly the governing party can argue that the electorate needs to give them a majority in the next election.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/24/2006 05:37:00 PM

Craig: Yeah; these people need proportional representation.

Gary: thanks for the info. I was kindof wondering though how the politics would work when all the parties which could potentially provide support on a confidence vote were strongly left-wing (and the Tories aren't).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/24/2006 06:01:00 PM

A minority government, with several opponents in Parliament, is only defeated when all its opponents decide that it is to their advantage to have a new election. An opposition party seeking a new leader or which is unlikely to benefit in a new election has an incentive to avoid bringing the government down.

The government can also bargain with the opposition. (Please support our budget and we will have every sidewalk in Quebec paved with gold).

What a minority government cannot get away with is ignoring its opposition. If it is too rigid or principled it will achieve very little and provoke an early new election.

The Martin minority government demonstrates how, by judiciously interpreting constitutional conventions to your advantage, seducing opposition MPs to cross the floor and letting an opposition party re-write the budget in exchange for the loan of their votes, the evil election day can be put off for at least six months.

In that time Martin was able to put the same sex marriage bill through Parliament, because it had support from more than one party.

Canadians seem to like minority governments. They have more of them than other Commonwealth countries. From what I have read the Canadian electors like it when their politicians cannot implement their pet projects which no one else likes.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/25/2006 11:59:00 AM

Given their minority government status, the Tories may find it hard to ram through their same-sex marriage ban.

Perhaps this is a lesson for National's own 'Skippy' contingent,
as if Brethrengate wasn't enough?

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/27/2006 11:17:00 AM