Thursday, April 21, 2011

The End of the Liberal Party?

Three political polls have shown the NDP running first in Quebec as Bloc voters head for the exit over Duceppe indicating at further constitutional troubles.

The objective of the Conservatives under Harper according to Tom Flanagan has always been to end the Liberal party in Canada. It seems likely that this has been the desire of Layton as well.

A two party system: us versus them.

It is hard to see what the dynamic might be of a Layton surge in Quebec. It may simply result in a split of votes in the province and more victories for Harper. More perturbing for Layton is if some Liberals won more seats as a result of the split.

One thing seems clear is that some wrenching change could be about to happen.

If we do appear to be heading to a two party system, what might it look like? Well, we could look to Manitoba from 1981 to 1986 where we had some of the nastiest "us versus them" politics in the province's history. There was no Liberals at all elected in 1981.

If a centrist option ceased to exist and all that was left was a "us versus them", I would simply stop voting as I would feel I had no real choice. I suspect we might see a lot of people do that.

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Colin said...

Might I suggest voter apathy is Stephen Harper's real goal.

Reed Solomon said...

Liberals or Conservatives who vote Conservative are IMHO deluding themselves. I'd like both to die. Then again, I want party politics made illegal.

The View from Seven said...

It will be a challenging future for all parties, not just the Liberals. There is a tectonic shift happening with the generation born in the '70s and '80s, and probably those born in the '90s as well. Their (or should I say "our"?) participation rate in belief-based organizations, such as religious organizations and political parties, is well below historic norms.

Having been raised in a world which encouraged them to customize everything to suit their own personality, what incentive would they have to be loyal to a political party as they enter their thirties and forties, where members have to compromise and suppress their individuality to move the organization forward? It's often easier for them to join and leave single-issue causes as they see fit.

I'm not saying this is a good or bad change: it's probably a bit of both. We humans will simply have to do what we've always done when confronted with change, which is to adapt.

Yet I wonder if political parties, with their next-election orientation, ever give much thought to the long-term future, or if there is that "oh, they'll come back when they're older" sort of denial that plagued religious groups in the '80s and '90s that they're now starting to discover to have been an erroneous assumption.

John Dobbin said...

Colin: It could be true. If the latest Ipsos poll is true, they forecast massive Tory majority.

Reed: I have yet to see a system where people did not group together. It is called parties.

View: The future could be marked by a system of government when only a fraction of the population selects the system to rule over everyone else.

At some point, maybe someone will say why bother with elections at all.

One Man Committee said...

Interesting comments. I think there is definitely something to Colin's comment about the Conservative strategy of promoting voter apathy - i.e. convincing nominally Liberal voters that Ignatieff is a poor leader and can't win - not so much to get them to vote Conservative, but to get them to stay home on election day.

But as John noted, if turnouts continue to decline to the point where we have 10 to 20 per cent of voters participating (not right away but over the course of many years), it could potentially throw the legitimacy of the entire system in doubt. That's when things could start getting dicey for Canada's electoral democracy.

The Analyst said...

People really shouldn't take to much stalk into post-debate surges and polls - they usually fissle out come election day (recall Nick Clegg). I heard that one of the Quebec polls that showed the NDP beating the Bloc had a Margin of Error of 7.1, which is enormous.

John Dobbin said...

OMC: Early voter turn-out is good. However, is that a reflection of people voting when they like to vote or enthusiasm for voting in general?

Analyst: Will look how your blog. I have looked over the fizzles in the past for the NDP. It is possible this is temporary.

However, it is also possible that it could kill the party.