Tuesday, July 06, 2004

T.O. voters are the cray-ziest..B.C. voters are the..craziest

A quick spin around the web yesterday seems to reveal that pundits of the "right" persuasion are breathing deeply and generally looking on the bright side of life. A week of decompression allows some perspective to creep in. Now can come the question: when we look back at the 2004 federal election in say, 2010, what will be the significance we assign to it, retrospectively?

There are numerous reasonable answers to this question. If the CPC builds on its momentum to win power in the next election, we will obviously say that 2004 was a breakthrough. Maybe we will be saddled with an expensive (but naturally underfunded) national daycare system, and look back on 2004 as the time when the Liberals were forced to keep their promise to win Bloc and NDP support.

But enough with the maybes! What are venues like this for, if not to make wild predictions and be stuck with them in perpetuity thanks to Google? One must be bold!

For a short-odds pick, the answer has to be the beginning of the end of Ralph Klein. He's been a CINO (Conservative In Name Only) since probably 1997, and the indefensible budget two years ago that raised virtually every tax except income cemented it for me. But, people like him personally, and since the opposition has always been Liberal, fractured, small, invisible, terrible (pick any or all), his job has been safe. His perceived sabotaging of the federal CPC campaign, though, has given usurpers courage. And frankly, I expect the de-throning to be swift.

The long-shot pick from this corner is the Liberals governing with the consent of the Conservatives, bill-by-bill, rather than the Bloc and/or NDP. Why? Liberal electoral math (could there be any other reason?).

The evidence from the campaign polls shows that there was a late Liberal swing in popular vote; this has been attributed, quite sensibly I think, to fear of the unknown, and also to fear of the known (Randy White et al). There is no chance that this fear will be increased by the next election, i.e. voters will be more familiar with the CPC. (Put another way, are there many people who voted CPC this time, but might be scared to vote for them next time?). Conversely, I have no problem saying that the NDP has effectively peaked. They may grab a few more seats in a future election, but really, they are the most known quantity in Canadian politics. They want more government involvement and spending in everything. Those who support this vision are already pretty loyal NDP supporters. Those who do not, are not. Is there a large constituency out there who might vote NDP, but haven't because of various non-policy considerations? That's a negative, good buddy. It's a small constituency. So:
- Since '93 at least, the Liberals govern to the right of where they campaigned
- They need to prevent the CPC from stealing more of their centre-right vote, best accomplished by co-opting some of their policies
- The NDP will not cooperate with this
- Core Liberal support will follow them, regardless of where the government veers on the political spectrum
- My guess is that the CPC will be willing to cooperate with Liberal bills if they are worthy on their merits (no non-negotiable "conditions of support" such as P.R.)
- There will be no need for a formal alliance or "union government", the two parties can still pick at each other on the peripheral issues (gun registry, Charter rights, etc.)

I've almost convinced myself that this will happen, but it's still a long-shot. The bonus is that it would be what is best for the country under the present minority scenario. This is of course a secondary consideration for the Natural Governing Party, but maybe they'll just fall into it.

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