Sunday, November 23, 2008

Balance of Power

Parliament is back in session as Stephen Harper tries to steer Canada through the major economic crisis with a minority government. The Liberals are suffering financially due to the election. They are also ready to be torn apart with the in fighting as they struggle to choose a new leader. Dion made a very wise decision by keeping the contenders out of the shadow cabinet.

Some people still want to attribute the loss to the dynamics of vote splitting. They also seem to think that the minority government is in the exact same boat as before the election with the need to have one party on board to pass any legislation. A last look at the numbers shows that the Conservatives have a stronger foundation then opposition supporters would like to admit.

Basic political theory shows that each political party has a core group of support. These are people that identify so strongly with their party values that they will get their vote no matter what. This support is how the Liberals became the natural governing party of Canada. In an election each party tries to build on their base support in order to win. A pattern I have noticed that if a person is elected with more than 50% of the vote they are likely going to be reelected. Dissatisfaction with the individual may reduce their vote to the 40s% but still enough to win. Applying the same theory to the recent election results shows a strong Conservative Party.

Here are the results of seats won with more than 50% of the votes.

Conservatives 80 of 143 (55.9%) In every province from New Brunswick to British Columbia.

Liberals 17 of 77 (22%) In PEI, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario

Bloc Quebecois 13 of 49 (26.5%)

NDP 8 of 37 (21.6%) In Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia.

The Conservatives have a broad based foundation that they can continue to build on. The Liberals need to appeal to a wider group of Canadians with a focus on policies that benefit the entire country. The Bloc is still showing strong which will keep a Quebec centred focus on various economic policies. The NDP also demonstrate a wide appeal that can be built on in the future. The next Liberal leader will need to show rebuild their tarnished image quickly. If not they will continue to lose ground to the other parties. In the next election a call for strategic voting against the Conservatives may no longer be a call to vote Liberal.

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