A Little Merger Reality

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Stockholm

I think its pretty clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that the increase in the Green vote from 2006 to 2008 was almost entirely votes taken from the Liberals. BUT, we will never know where those votes would have gone if the Green party had not been there. Its possible that if there had been no Green party, a lot of those disaffected Liberals wanting to vote "none of the above" MIGHT have voted NDP. So while the Greens definitely got votes from ex-Liberals - it is a plausible hypotheses that the Greens prevented those votes from migrating to the NDP.

ottawaobserver

Good point.  I wonder if the Canadian Election Study data would give any insight.  Wish it were in a more accessible format!

JKR

Stockholm wrote:

Its possible that if there had been no Green party, a lot of those disaffected Liberals wanting to vote "none of the above" MIGHT have voted NDP. So while the Greens definitely got votes from ex-Liberals - it is a plausible hypotheses that the Greens prevented those votes from migrating to the NDP.

One thing for sure, the Conservatives are the main beneficiary from this vote splitting.

If the Green vote wasn't lost in the ether of FPTP the Conservatives would have very little chance of getting a fake FPTP majority.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

JKR wrote:

One thing for sure, the Conservatives are the main beneficiary from this vote splitting.

If the Green vote wasn't lost in the ether of FPTP the Conservatives would have very little chance of getting a fake FPTP majority.

In my opinion, the whole issue of "vote splitting" is an illusory problem. I agree with many others here that the Cons and Libs are really just the right and left wings of the Corporatist Party of Canada, or less politely, the Fascist Party of Canada. Yes, there are differences on some important social issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, and lgbt rights. However, these are just part of a "good cop/bad cop" act that these parties are playing out.

As in the police analogy, they work for the same boss, and they have the same basic objectives, but one is somewhat nicer about it, in a calculated way. The main function of the minor differences is to distract people's attention from the major similarities. Whichever of these 2 parties forms the government, the direction of the country will be the same, toward greater and greater economic control by a smaller and smaller group of oligarchs.

This is even more striking in the U.S. case. In the 2000 presidential election, had I been an American voter, I would have cast a ballot for Ralph Nader. For the next 8 years, I would have been castigated by all my "progressive" friends for contributing to the election of G. W. Bush, that rabid monster.

But now, the "radical", "socialist" Obama has been president for a year and a half, and his actions differ from those of the hated Bush administration only in details. The same police state powers are being claimed. The same imperialistic foreign policy is being pursued, albeit with a more friendly face. The same Wall Street club are being allowed to run the economy. Bush, bad cop. Obama, good cop. Both cops, both working for the the same boss.

This is why, in my opinion, proportional representation is more important than any other issue. Fair voting would make it feasible for non-corporatist parties to actually have a role in government, and share some of the decision making power. Unless the two party system can be broken, nothing else matters very much.

 

JKR

Michael Moriarity wrote:

This is why, in my opinion, proportional representation is more important than any other issue. Fair voting would make it feasible for non-corporatist parties to actually have a role in government, and share some of the decision making power. Unless the two party system can be broken, nothing else matters very much.

 

Amen.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

[url=http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/06/21/the-liberals-will-never-be-the-same/]... Coyne[/url] says

 

Quote:
When a former prime minister lets it be known that he has given up on the party he led to three majorities, and wants to merge it with another party, that is not something that can be dismissed, or forgotten. It may be unwise, it may be unworkable, but that does not mean that people in both parties-serious people, not fringe cranks-are not thinking about it, or that they will not persist in the endeavour. This cannot be without consequence. The prospect having been raised in such a spectacular fashion, it cannot be unraised. A chain of events has been set in motion, with a momentum and a logic whose endpoint, I predict, is neither coalition nor merger, but the destruction of the Liberal party.

This week's issue of Maclean's is not a good one for Ignatieff. It also features an article from John Geddes writing about [url=http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/06/19/the-long-road-back/]Ignatieff's summer of discontent[/url].

 

NDPP

Coalition a False Calculation

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/coalition-a-false-calculati...

"Even though both Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton have officially rejected it, the idea of a coalition between the Liberal Party and the NDP is still in the air. Former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow is promoting a merger, with the support of former prime minister Jean Chretien and some influential Liberal activists who believe this to be the only way to defeat the Conservatives.."

I think they're right...but I also think the two parties' leaderships are too stupid and vainglorious to put it together. As a result they will force us watch Harper consolidate and increase his choke-hold on power. They are Harper 'enablers' at our expense, each thinking that their chances at winning improve the longer the electorate suffers under Harper. Neither has a hope in hell of winning power without the other.

leftypopulist

A rational alternative to the coalition is for progressive minded, left-leaning Libs to jump ship and join the NDP.

Erik Redburn

NoDifferencePartyPooper wrote:

Coalition a False Calculation

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/coalition-a-false-calculati...

"Even though both Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton have officially rejected it, the idea of a coalition between the Liberal Party and the NDP is still in the air. Former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow is promoting a merger, with the support of former prime minister Jean Chretien and some influential Liberal activists who believe this to be the only way to defeat the Conservatives.."

I think they're right...but I also think the two parties' leaderships are too stupid and vainglorious to put it together. As a result they will force us watch Harper consolidate and increase his choke-hold on power. They are Harper 'enablers' at our expense, each thinking that their chances at winning improve the longer the electorate suffers under Harper. Neither has a hope in hell of winning power without the other.

 

The Liberals have had three chances at a coalition already and rejected it each time.  A merger is simply out of the question, unless we want Green washing tories carrying the standard for the left in parliament.  I am rather disturbed to see that unelected functionaries like Romanow and spin doctors like Top thinking they can negotiate the NDP right out of existence, without even a nod from the membership.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I believe Warren Kinsella is behind an effort to wipe out the NDP by way of a merger, but it won't happen. I also believe the Cons will be in power for a very long time as long as their opposition is split four ways - Libs, BQ, NDP, and Greens, with the Libs caving in on confidence votes - as long as Iggy is their leader, anyway.Frown

DaveW

is Salutin endorsing merger? or just being world-weary?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/the-phantom-canadian-left/article1608192/

I once asked Jack Layton what distinguished the federal NDP's views from Stéphane Dion's Liberals. He replied, it's that people can believe those things when we say them. That may be arrogant and implausible, but it's not socialist. Let the merging begin.

 

 

Lord Palmerston

Quote:
When a former prime minister lets it be known that he has given up on the party he led to three majorities, and wants to merge it with another party, that is not something that can be dismissed, or forgotten. It may be unwise, it may be unworkable, but that does not mean that people in both parties-serious people, not fringe cranks-are not thinking about it, or that they will not persist in the endeavour. This cannot be without consequence. The prospect having been raised in such a spectacular fashion, it cannot be unraised. A chain of events has been set in motion, with a momentum and a logic whose endpoint, I predict, is neither coalition nor merger, but the destruction of the Liberal party.

This is of course the fantasy of the party Third Way "modernizers" who wanted to change the name to the "Democratic Party" and brought Obama's spin doctors to Halifax. They resent the working class nature of the party and its "outdated" links to the trade unions. But what is really bizarre is that Ed Broadbent, who has been a voice for traditional social democracy, is involved in the merger talks.

KenS

Muddled.

The same people who were doing that stuff at and before the Halifax convention are close to union people in the NDP.

And there is only media talk that Ed Broadbent is involved in "merger talks." Frankly, I don't even think there are "merger talks. You have Chretien and Broadbent who have cover the whole waterfront talks. And that would include hypotheticals around merger even if they both rule it out.

Chretien would have his own reasons- and because he enjoys it would be a nice cherry on the top- to be coy and vague in phrasing it so that merger could be a possibility.... even if he is as oppossed to it as any other Liberal. So don't worry about Ed.

But you better watch those Third Way moles. Rearranging the furniture is the first step in the master plan.

Lord Palmerston

A fair point.  There are the outright "modernizers" (like Michael Byers) and "traditional social democrats" (like Broadbent), but it's not black and white.  It is remarkable the extent to which the Third Way modernizers have pretty much gotten their way under Layton.

Stockholm

Most of the "modernization" in the NDP has nothing to do with ideology and has been more about modernizing techniques around fundraising, communications and campaign organization etc...

There have been some malcontents complaining about the NDP putting too much water in its ideological wine since about 1940...the arguments never change - just the names and faces of the people. Now people would have you believe that Layton took the party to the "centre", yet the same was said about MacDonough and Broadbent and Lewis etc...

Lord Palmerston

The federal party was pretty "Keynesian" up until the 1997 election.  Nowadays the party accepts neoliberal orthodoxy such as balanced budgets and holding the line on taxes.

And where the party has governed - at the provincial level - the shift is quite evident.  Howard Pawley's government in Manitoba in the 1980s prioritized public investments over austerity.  Since the 1990s, under Romanow, Doer, etc. it has supported tax cuts and prioritized balanced budgets over public investments. 

This is not to deny however that there have always been those who have criticized the party from the Left.

NorthReport

I always thought Tommy Douglas believed in balanced budgets. If we started taxing corporations properly there probably would never be a need to not have balanced budgets.

Lord Palmerston

[url=http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publication... Haiven[/url]:

Quote:
...the NDP will no doubt refer to Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan. They may remind people...that Douglas insisted on balancing his province’s books as one of his first priorities. But Tommy Douglas was not just about balancing budgets...Tommy Douglas had social imagination; he had great ideas of what he was going to accomplish, like medicare, public automobile insurance, rural electrification, children’s dental care and many more. He announced these things publicly and lifted people’s spirits in the promise of what they could do collectively. He and his immediate successors took on the vested business and professional interests and rallied people to demand better. In recent years, NDP governments across Canada have been all about dampening people’s spirits, especially the party grassroots. The NDP has become a promise of better management of crisis.”

Stockholm

...and i see Jack Layton talking about doubling CPP and bringing in national Pharmacare and child care and a host of other ideas.

Lord Palmerston

...all while balancing the budget and not increasing taxes!

Stockholm

actually now that the budget is totally unbalanced - I don't think the NDP promising to instantly balance it anymore (that was back in 2008 whenh we still had a gigantic surplus) and the NDP does support increasing taxes - what do you call reversing the Liberal-Tory multi-billion dollar corporate tax cuts?

NorthReport

Bringing in a Pharmacare program would require additional tax revenue just like the rest of medicare does, but as long as it was universal, fair, and, properly administered, Canadians would support it. 

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

NorthReport wrote:

Bringing in a Pharmacare program would require additional tax revenue just like the rest of medicare does, but as long as it was universal, fair, and, properly administered, Canadians would support it. 

All afforable if corporate taxes are taken back to Paul Martin Levels. There is no reasonable explaination for Canada to have the lowest corporate rates, especially in the time of recession when low corporate taxes will do nothing to spur employment, just as it didn't in the 1980's I often wonder why lessons are never learned.

Jamie Deith

Speaking as a non-partisan, if the will could be found to combine electoral forces, I should think that an arrangement like this would serve the partners well:

a) The parties do NOT merge but remain separate entities.

b) They take a realistic look at each of the ridings, and decide which party stands the better chance of winning it.  That party's candidate stands and the other(s) back off.  Essentially it's a common slate.

c) As part of the deal, it is agreed that some form of PR must be implemented after the election.  No studies, and no pre-implementation referendum. A confirmation referendum after 3 elections is a pretty good idea though.  The only debate should be which form of PR and not if.

Rationale:

- The common slate maximizes both the seat-getting capacity of the coalition and campaign resources.  In contrast, running as separate parties with the intent of merging after the fact simply perpetuates the vote splitting that gives a lopsided result, to the pont where the coalition cannot form a government.  I note that the NDP+Liberal support combined in 2008 amounted to 44% of the popular vote (for only 37% of the seats), and 44% is traditionally enough to win a majority.  Realistically though, you would expect considerable 'leakage' to the Cons and the Bloc, so courting the Greens would be a good idea if you really wanted to make it work. Getting the Greens to agree should be easy; the prospect of PR going forward should on its own entice the Greens to jump on board, giving the coalition a base of 51% of the 2008 popular vote to start from.  Such a combined force would be exceptionally difficult to defeat in my estimation.  Just eyeballing the 2008 results, I would guess that the Cons would be all but wiped out in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, lose most of their 51 seats in Ontario, plus some in BC - a net loss of perhaps 50-60 seats.  Even 40 of those seats would vault the coalition into a majority position.

- PR has to be non-negotiable for a number of reasons: First, as mentioned earlier, the Greens would be delighted at the prospect of having some small share of the seats in the foreseeable future, and without this it is difficult to see why the Greens would ever be interested.  Second, the NDP are perpetually short-changed in terms of seats, and frankly they would be positively nuts to let the opportunity to rectify this slip by again. Third, without this proviso locked down there is every risk that the Liberals would win an outright majority from the combined slate and leave the other partners high and dry.  Fourth, it's very good politics for appealing to non-separatists, as the Bloc would be reduced to about 30 seats under nearly any PR system. (Even if they somehow managed 60% of the Quebec vote compared to the 38% from 2008, it would still amount to fewer seats than they currently enjoy.)

- Each party gains something. For the Liberals it's POWER. For the NDP it's a share of the POWER as the junior partner, and for subsequent elections, more seats than ever before, plus a much better chance of getting a share of the POWER. For the Greens it's some seats in subsequent elections.

- Since the coalition/alliance is clearly temporary in nature, the party leaders do not have to sell any major shift in ideology to their base. Having each gained something from the alliance, the parties are free to go back to tearing each other limb from limb as nature intended.

 

Jamie

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

Jamie Deith wrote:

Speaking as a non-partisan, if the will could be found to combine electoral forces, I should think that an arrangement like this would serve the partners well:

a) The parties do NOT merge but remain separate entities.

b) They take a realistic look at each of the ridings, and decide which party stands the better chance of winning it.  That party's candidate stands and the other(s) back off.  Essentially it's a common slate.

c) As part of the deal, it is agreed that some form of PR must be implemented after the election.  No studies, and no pre-implementation referendum. A confirmation referendum after 3 elections is a pretty good idea though.  The only debate should be which form of PR and not if.

Rationale:

- The common slate maximizes both the seat-getting capacity of the coalition and campaign resources.  In contrast, running as separate parties with the intent of merging after the fact simply perpetuates the vote splitting that gives a lopsided result, to the pont where the coalition cannot form a government.  I note that the NDP+Liberal support combined in 2008 amounted to 44% of the popular vote (for only 37% of the seats), and 44% is traditionally enough to win a majority.  Realistically though, you would expect considerable 'leakage' to the Cons and the Bloc, so courting the Greens would be a good idea if you really wanted to make it work. Getting the Greens to agree should be easy; the prospect of PR going forward should on its own entice the Greens to jump on board, giving the coalition a base of 51% of the 2008 popular vote to start from.  Such a combined force would be exceptionally difficult to defeat in my estimation.  Just eyeballing the 2008 results, I would guess that the Cons would be all but wiped out in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, lose most of their 51 seats in Ontario, plus some in BC - a net loss of perhaps 50-60 seats.  Even 40 of those seats would vault the coalition into a majority position.

- PR has to be non-negotiable for a number of reasons: First, as mentioned earlier, the Greens would be delighted at the prospect of having some small share of the seats in the foreseeable future, and without this it is difficult to see why the Greens would ever be interested.  Second, the NDP are perpetually short-changed in terms of seats, and frankly they would be positively nuts to let the opportunity to rectify this slip by again. Third, without this proviso locked down there is every risk that the Liberals would win an outright majority from the combined slate and leave the other partners high and dry.  Fourth, it's very good politics for appealing to non-separatists, as the Bloc would be reduced to about 30 seats under nearly any PR system. (Even if they somehow managed 60% of the Quebec vote compared to the 38% from 2008, it would still amount to fewer seats than they currently enjoy.)

- Each party gains something. For the Liberals it's POWER. For the NDP it's a share of the POWER as the junior partner, and for subsequent elections, more seats than ever before, plus a much better chance of getting a share of the POWER. For the Greens it's some seats in subsequent elections.

- Since the coalition/alliance is clearly temporary in nature, the party leaders do not have to sell any major shift in ideology to their base. Having each gained something from the alliance, the parties are free to go back to tearing each other limb from limb as nature intended.

 

Jamie

Anyone want some pie?

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

Today in the Globe, [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/one-election-three-scenario... Flanagan[/url] suggests three possible scenarios. This is his most insightful comment

Quote:
A Conservative-Liberal coalition makes intellectual sense because the two parties, under their current leaders, are close on major issues.

 

He also offers some suggestions on why that wouldn't work.

 

I'll offer another.

 

The Conservatives and Liberals owe whatever success they've had (or hope to have) to the illusion that they are different. Forming a coalition would forever destroy that illusion.

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