Monday, September 22, 2008

The Splintered Left

There is a certain amount of vote-splitting between the Liberals, NDP and Greens, and in some ridings this fracturing of like-minded people may result in a win for the Tories. Nevertheless, I don't think we need to worry about the situation, and I don't think we'd be better off if we unified the left.

For one thing, both the Liberals and NDP are venerable old parties with rich histories and an important place in our democracy. Dissenters may point out that the Liberals and NDP have extremely similar platforms. Nonetheless, the NDP acts on the Liberal party as a pressure group to promote progressive policies. Remember the Liberal child-care plan under Paul Martin? That resulted from a deal with Jack Layton, who gave some much-needed support in return for the program. In the early 70s Stephen Lewis was able to use his strength in Ontario to force the government of Bill Davis to bring in rent control and other policies.

Having three parties on the center-left might be a strength. Unlike the monolithic Conservatives, we have a plurality of voices and ideas. The Green Party supports the legalization of marijuana - a tough sell in mainstream politics, but important to mainstream goals such as keeping young people out of the justice system and jails.

The splintering of the left doesn't mean that the Tories will always win. It may be our secret weapon.


Anonymous said...

Given our FPTP system, actually, yes it does mean the conservatives will always win.

I'm starting to think that it might be best if the conservatives won a majority this time around, because then Harper would be under immense pressure to push forward the so-con agenda, and it's still too soon for most Canadians to accept.

End result? We take four years of pain in order to wake people up. Not pleasant, but Harper's strategy of confidence minority after confidence minority will let him incrementalize the changes.

Kind of like the frog boiling parable.

Yappa said...

Hi anonymous at 11:38 -

I heard that exact same argument during the 2000 US election. And boy, was it not worth it to get proof that the right is on the wrong track. If Harper wins a majority, thousands of Canadian lives will be ruined by his punitive justice policies, his pro-war stance, his cuts to social spending, his determination to undermine universal health care, and who knows what else he's got up his sleeve.

Actually, FPTP means that the Conservatives won't always win, because support for the little parties doesn't translate into an equal number of seats. FPTP favors the two big parties.

Don't forget also that if we can keep the Tory seat count down, we have a chance for a coalition. In 2006 one more seat for the Liberals or NDP would have made that possible. (Whether Jack Layton was flexible enough for that is another question.)

janfromthebruce said...

Today's Nanos

Conservatives 35
Liberals 30
NDP 22
Bloc 7
Green 6

wilson said...

''conservatives won a majority this time around, because then Harper would be under immense pressure to push forward the so-con agenda''

Actually, you've got that totally backwards.
A Conservative majority would mean the so-con vote would be diluted, becoming a smaller fraction of the party.
So there would be less pressure to push a so-con agenda, and more pressure to push a centrist agenda.

The prospects of a coalition government would send the soft center & right Liberal voters to the Conservatives, fearing a too left leaning government.
Would Red Tories go for a Layton lead coalition?