Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Look past the next election

One thing about all of this merger talk is it is motivated solely by short-term considerations.

However, if you look past the next election there is no political logic to the NDP joining the Liberals and the idea of a merged Liberal/NDP Party should scare the shit out of the Conseratives. Such a situation would eliminate the NDP from the federal political scene and ensure the Liberals are the dominent party in this country for the foreseeable future.

As I stated in my previous blog the Liberals have dominated the Canadian federal political scene for more than half a century despite the centre-left being divided between two parties. The simple fact of Canadian politics is the progressive habit runs deep and there has not been any signs that it is changing.

So, imagine what would happen in the Canadian political scene if there were only two political parties, one a conservative party the other a liberal party. Liberal dominance would be virtually guaranteed.

I know many would dispute that assertion but just look at the last 60 years. In all but two cases the Conservatives only won government because the NDP siphoned off enough votes from the Liberals to hand them victory. The two exceptions are the first election of the Chief and the 1984 election. However, you only need to look at the 1988 Free Trade election to see what I am talking about. The Conservatives won that election with 43% of the vote. That leaves the remainder voting against them. Fortunately, the NDP took enough of that 57% away from the Liberals to deny them government. Just imagine if that election would have been fought between just the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. Joe Clark's experience really sheds a light on that dynamic. Then there is Stephen Harper who has only won his minorities because Jack Layton has managed to increase his seat count in Parliament to the detriment of the Liberals. Again, imagine if the NDP did not exist.

Of course, you cannot just add up the Liberal popular vote and the NDP popular vote and think that they would mesh perfectly. Some Liberals would go to the Conservatives, but not that many, and some Dippers would refuse to join the new party but enough of them would put power over principle to make the new party the dominent party on the federal scene.

I am certain that some NDP supporters would disagree with my assertion that the NDP would be eliminated but you only need to look at the two "partners" in the proposed merger. Despite its current problems the Liberals are bigger, better financed and they have the better party apparatus than the NDP. We only need to look at the "merger" between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance to see what happens to the smaller party in such a situation. A merger between the Liberals and the NDP would be a takeover and nothing else. The NDP and its ideals would cease to exist on the federal scene, much like old time Toryism has disappeared from federal politics.

Looking past the short-term a political merger between the Liberals and the NDP makes no sense from an NDP point-of-view. It would be political suicide for them. That is why you can probably believe Jack Layton when he states that he does not want to merge the two parties.

As for Conservatives you had better pray that it does not come to pass if you are entertaining any ideas of becoming a more competative political party in the 21st century.

For the Liberals, such a merger would be advantageous to you in the longer-term but not so much in the short-term. I would wager a sizable chunk of money that you will be enjoying majority government status by the middle of this decade without a merger so you have no real need to make it happen at present. Who knows, once the dynamic I described in my previous post re-asserts itself, and the NDP is struggling to maintain official party status, maybe then discussions can be opened up to take over the NDP.


Blogger Issachar said...

I think you dismiss too easily scenarios that are unpleasant. A net gain to the Conservatives as the new party drifts to the left is quite possible. It's implausible that the new party would be the Liberals with a new name, so some drift to the left is inevitable.
Shift too far and the Conservatives win the centre by default. Fail to shift far enough and you lose the Liberal advantage without gaining anything. And there might not even be a sweet spot between the two. "Too far" and "not far enough" might well overlap.

Personally I think that's a terrible idea. Canadians are best served by having two major centrist parties. The Liberal party needs to put together a centrist platform convince us to vote FOR it. "But Harper is bad" is not a platform. It's an anti-platform.

June 09, 2010 8:21 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Methinks you give the Liberal party too much credit.

The CPC owns the middle more and more every day. The Liberal party has become a cartoon of itself and offers Canadians nothing of substance, really.

Times change, your party hasn't.

June 09, 2010 8:52 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

"It's implausible that the new party would be the Liberals with a new name, so some drift to the left is inevitable."


Everybody and their brother in this country knows the centre is where the votes are so why would this new party drift left?

Just because one of the parties in a merged party is left leaning?

Really, the most likely outcome of such a merger would be hard core Dippers would drift away from the party like the hard core Tories drifted away from the Conservative Party.

The ones that remain would be those Dippers who would put power over principle and they would gladly follow the new party to the centre if it meant power and influence.

Canadians are generally progressive. They have proven that for over a century. A party of Liberals and Dippers would be the progressive option and without any competition on the left would be the default party for Canadians looking for a progressive government.

As I stated, if the Liberals can dominate a political system with three major national parties, where one of those parties is a direct competitor for the progressive vote, for over half a century, they would dominate even more if there are only two parties.

Jim, we have seen this before. It in never permanent. Eventually Canadians will grow tired of the Conservatives and look to the only other party they trust to govern, the Liberals.

June 09, 2010 11:03 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

You really are a glass half full kind of person and I respect that.

Sadly for you, Canadians are NOT unhappy with the way Canada is working.

Nobody expects the government to be faultless. What we do expect is for them not to be thieves and to work towards the betterment of Canada.

As a small businessman, the CPC has treated me well and the LPC has let me down. End of story.

Good or bad (in your opinion) at least the CPC has some vision...the LPC, not so much.

Nothing will change until the LPC stops digging in the dirt and actually offers so options.

So far, nothing....

June 09, 2010 11:24 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

"Nothing will change until the LPC stops digging in the dirt and actually offers so options."

Jim, I had the exact same thought before the 2006 election when Stephen Harper and the Conservatives did nothing but talk about Adscam.

I was wrong and so are you.

It is inevitable that Canadians will grow tired of the Conservative government and seek a change. Thayt is just the way it is. That change will be a Liberal government because Canadians have shown again and again that they only trust the Liberals and the Conservatives to govern.

Most governments only last around 8years with the desire for change usually beginning to manifest itself around year 6 of a government's life. The Conservatives have been in government for 5-and-a-half and we are beginning to see the first signs of that desire for change.

It has not hit critical mass yet. That will probably take at least another year if left on its own but an election campaign in the near future might accelerate that process. Then again maybe not. We will have to wait and see but I would bet a sizable chunk of money that we will see a Liberal majority government by 2015.

I will have to write another post to explain why.

June 10, 2010 10:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home