Who's afraid of the big bad coalition?

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Incorrect
Who's afraid of the big bad coalition?

Michael Ignatieff mentioned the elephant in the room yesterday, alluding to the possibility of a coalition if the Conservatives fail to gain the confidence of the house. He framed the idea as a hypothetical possibility, but clearly it was intended as a shot across the bow. It could also be taken as a trial balloon to gauge public reaction to the idea two weeks from the election date. No doubt Harper will take this 'threat' and run with it. But will anybody else really care? I doubt it. Opinion polls have shown that most Canadians are not particularly concerned about a coalition, formal or informal. This will likely be the last pivotal moment of the campaign, clearly framing the realistic alternatives for May 2nd: Conservative minority or potential Liberal minority. I expect that most Canadians will vote for the latter, and not give Harper the "strong, stable, majority Conservative government" that he constantly pleads for. If this choice is clearly defined and openly discussed for the next two weeks, it will effectively provide a mandate for the parliamentary overthrow of the Harper regime.

absentia

The question is: How to get such a clear and reasonable public discussion? Candidates don't want to talk about it and the media have been pretty shy, too.

One helpful thing to do might be letters to editors, asking for articles on coalition (Like: How well is the one in Britain working? How has it worked in Israel?), its history and constitutional underpinnings. Also, of course, write or tweet everyone you know involved in campaigning, and urge them to embrace the idea.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Depending on the numbers, I think Jack raises the issue election night.  Frame the discussion by saying something like:

 

Prime Minister Harper offered Canadians a choice between a Conservative government or a "risky coalition."  Clearly Canadians have decided that a "risky coalition" is prefereable to a Conservative government.

So now, it is up to Mr. Ignatieff.  Does he wish to pursue an arrangement or coalition with the New Democrats, or does he prefer to continue his policy from the last Parliament, and enter into a wink and a nudge coalition with Stephen Harper?

Unionist

I like Malcolm's concept. And I agree, depending on the numbers, that Jack should raise it without delay. That would mean, hopefully, that party strategists are quietly getting the message ready now.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm quite sure that Ignatieff's support for a coalition or other arrangement will depend on the numbers when the election is over. If there is a huge gap between the Cons/Libs like maybe 145 - 80, I very much doubt Ignatieff will go along with any arrangement. If the numbers are closer, say 125 - 110 (which looks very unlikely), then Ignatieff is open to the idea of some sort of working arrangement with the NDP and the presumed (and non-contractual) support of the BQ. If the numbers for the Cons/Libs remain where they are today - in the range of 145 to 80 - then I believe Ignatieff will throw his support to the Conservatives in the interests of a stable government and no further election outside of the next mandated one - in four years. And a lot can happen in the next four years of a Conservative minority propped up by the Liberals - a change in leadership in each of all five parties is highly likely.

KenS

People should always remember that it is the Liberal Party, not Iggnatieff. He's only the Leader. Not a bystander like Dion as leader, but not even close to being in complete command either.

Nor is it going to be driven by ideology. It wont matter a fig that Iggnatieff or others in the LPC are more blue or less blue. Its all about what they think will be best for the imperial restoration [or "should we be forget that at least for now"].

If anything, all other things being equal, if there is going to be contention within the LPC [which is guaranteed if they dont do well enough], Iggy's personal interest is going to lean more than others towards going for government. Because if they are in a weakish position, he's either seeking to be Prime Minister despite that, or he's history.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Oh, I have no doubt that this is Ignatieff's last stand. But if the electoral result is something like Cons 145 - Libs 80, then there will be no coalition effort. If the numbers are closer to Cons 125 - Libs 110, then it's another story entirely.

Incorrect

I agree with KenS that Ignatieff will be forced to attempt a coalition in parliament. He has no alternative. He will be desposed of if all he can provide for the Liberals is another several years of support for a Harper minority. The long term result will be improved prospects for the NDP and the slow death of the Liberal party. He will attempt it and probably succeed. The concern I have is that the Bloq Quebecoise may play along with the intent of sabotaging the arrangement shortly thereafter, allowing them to claim that Canada is dysfunctional(with separation being the only viable alternative). If this happens, it will strengthen the Conservatives, who will claim that they were right all along about the 'threat' of a coalition with the bloc Quebecoise. That may end up giving Harper a majority in the ensuing election. A Harper majority would be ideal for the Bloc Quebeoise in the long term, as Conservative values can only alienate Quebec further and strengethen the separatist case.

It will be a very delicate balancing act that a Liberal NDP coalition will have to perform. The Bloc Quebecoise will try to extract the maximum number of concessions from the government, and the Liberal/NDP coalition will have to be seen to satisfy them, but not be too subservient at the same time. I expect that they will do it as slowly as possible, just to maintain their life support system for as long as possible(and the claim to coalition stability). On the other hand, the Bloc Quebecoise may just enjoy propping up the coalition and systematically extracting concessions. After all, it will justify their continued short term existence even as it undermines the claim that Canada does not work for Quebec.

There are so many possibilities to consider. My head hurts now. 

 

gyor

Boom Boom wrote:

Oh, I have no doubt that this is Ignatieff's last stand. But if the electoral result is something like Cons 145 - Libs 80, then there will be no coalition effort. If the numbers are closer to Cons 125 - Libs 110, then it's another story entirely.

Oh there will be a coalition either way. The only question is will it be a conservitive Liberal or NDP Liberal.

Doug

It's quite possible that with a disappointing election result - though not so disappointing that the result is a Conservative majority - Ignatieff will quit and the Liberals will commit to supporting the Conservatives for a time while they elect a new leader.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes, exactly. I didn't make it clear that Ignatieff's support of the Conservatives amounts to a coalition in itself. Someone should remind Harper that he has governed with a coalition for the past five years! Laughing

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I really do doubt that Ignatieff could be coerced into governing with the NDP's support UNLESS there is a very narrow gap between the Conservatives and the Liberals, like the 125 - 110 scenario I posted earlier. If the gap is something like Cons 145 - Libs 80, then there's no way any kind of Liberal - NDP cooperation will take place. Nada. No way.

Doug

absentia wrote:

One helpful thing to do might be letters to editors, asking for articles on coalition (Like: How well is the one in Britain working? How has it worked in Israel?

 

Those aren't perhaps the happiest examples.

KenS

Incorrect wrote:

I agree with KenS that Ignatieff will be forced to attempt a coalition in parliament. He has no alternative. He will be desposed of if all he can provide for the Liberals is another several years of support for a Harper minority.

I dont think that is quite it. What the LPC wants will be a matter of deep internal contention. Again: having little to do with ideology. In fact, choice of direction will cut across ideological orientations.

One scenario being that the Liberals do "medium well"- but the strongest opinion votes for not governing under the circumstances. Now Iggy might want to leave under those circumstances. But if he wants to stay, I dont think the knives disposing of him quickly is a foregone conclusion.

The Liberals that matter will not relish more years in opposition, while they can continue to weaken, but they may well prefer that to the alternative. Its not as cut and dried as a lot of people [most?] around here seem to think.

KenS

BB, you really do seem convinced that Iggy will have to be coerced into governing dependent on the NDP.

Where is the evidence that ideological orientation is or was ever such a determining factor in the Liberal Party of Canada.

Iggy being ill disposed to the coalition in 2008/2009 was driven by the imperious notion that the LPC can and should wait for being handed sloe power on a platter. And I think it was the majority opinion at the time. But two years of humiliation is a powerful teacher- even to the imperiously dense.

absentia

It's not the party leaders' concept of coalition, alliance or working arrangement that matters: they will do whatever seems best for their own future agendas, from day to day.

It's the voters who need educating in the various available options, because we'll be forced to live with the result.

We don't need happy examples, just real ones, that we can reconize. Once that's clear, we can compare and decide what might work for us. Canadians aren't stupid, only ignorant and politically naive.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I very much doubt that Ignatieff is dumb enough to think he can govern the country with only around 80 Liberal seats propped up by the NDP - that's where I am coming from. I give him more credit for smarts than some folks here are willing to give.

Incorrect

KenS wrote:

Incorrect wrote:

I agree with KenS that Ignatieff will be forced to attempt a coalition in parliament. He has no alternative. He will be desposed of if all he can provide for the Liberals is another several years of support for a Harper minority.

I dont think that is quite it. What the LPC wants will be a matter of deep internal contention. Again: having little to do with ideology. In fact, choice of direction will cut across ideological orientations.

One scenario being that the Liberals do "medium well"- but the strongest opinion votes for not governing under the circumstances. Now Iggy might want to leave under those circumstances. But if he wants to stay, I dont think the knives disposing of him quickly is a foregone conclusion.

The Liberals that matter will not relish more years in opposition, while they can continue to weaken, but they may well prefer that to the alternative. Its not as cut and dried as a lot of people [most?] around here seem to think.

What the Liberal party wants is power, as you no doubt understand. The only question for them will be how to get it and how to maintain it. I think that we should not look to the previous five years for help in understanding the next five years. The Conservatives have shown that they cannot attain a majority, and that they are unwilling to work with partners in parliament. These factors considerabley undermine their claim to political legitimacy, and lend support to the idea of a new political arrangement that does not include them. The Liberals know that any popular disquiet that results from deposing the Comservatives will soon be forgotten, especially if they can quickly demonstrate the ability to govern well. No doubt popular measures that appeal to the middle class will strengthen their claim to legitimacy, and allow Canadians to overlook any Conservative complaints about their unseating. The Conservatives and their supporters will just be seen as partisan complainers, and the rest of Canada will move on and enjoy the benefits of a government that considers their situation. No doubt an NDP partnership will ensure that the Liberals do not betray the popular trust.

Three years or so down the road, at election time, nobody will care how Prime Minister Michael Ignatieff came to power.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Incorrect wrote:
Three years or so down the road, at election time, nobody will care how Prime Minister Michael Ignatieff came to power.

 

Unless he completely loses his mind and tries to govern with just 80 Liberal seats backed by the NDP and, on some votes, by the BQ - and then he will reminded on a daily basis for the entire three years. Not going to happen.

 

 

mmphosis

Mayhaps, the NDP, Greens and Bloc need to form an alliance.

remind remind's picture

mmphosis wrote:
Mayhaps, the NDP, Greens and Bloc need to form an alliance.

There are NO Green MPs to form an alliance with....then of course there is the reality they are polling at about 3%,   not much above the Christian Heritage Party.

 

And speaking as if the Green Party was on equity with the NDP and Bloc has got to be the funniest thing I have heard today.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'd love to see the Greens win a seat or two - especially if it is a Green with some proper environmental credentials. Just to shake up the House of Commons a bit!  Laughing

Incorrect

Boom Boom wrote:

Incorrect wrote:
Three years or so down the road, at election time, nobody will care how Prime Minister Michael Ignatieff came to power.

 

Unless he completely loses his mind and tries to govern with just 80 Liberal seats backed by the NDP and, on some votes, by the BQ - and then he will reminded on a daily basis for the entire three years. Not going to happen.

It all depends. I for one don't think that the Liberals and the NDP will pass up the opportunity to unseat the Conservatives, and neither will the Bloc. All three parties are sending signals that a coalition is a legitimate thing if the standing government cannot get the confidence of the house. They are not doing this because they want to have an open discussion of parliamentary procedures and protocols. They are floating the idea in public, with two weeks left in an election campaign, because they are trying to gauge public support for the idea. I expect that reaction over the next two weeks will either embolden them, or cause them to restrict the discussion to being nothing more than a hypothetical threat.

KenS

@ Unionist, post # 17:

A number of people here work from an assumption that within the Liberal Party Iggy will have to be coerced into governing. [Presuming they dont have a commanding # of seats, like at least 100.] Associated speculation that he might be replaced by Bob Rae to do the coalition or co-habitation thing.

I dont understand where that notion comes from. The only thing that would seem to account for it is that Iggy is too much of a blue Liberal to want to govern with the NDP.

Maybe Boom Boom coould explain why he thinks Iggy will be substantially more reluctant than others in the LPC to govern in partnership?

[And just to be clear- if the Liberals only have 80 seats, the reluctance to go for government will be quite widespread. Iggy's reluctance would not stand out at all. And as a reminder: I think that for any given number of seats they hold, Iggy will if anything be MORE inclined than the rest of his party to want to govern.... unless of course he has already decided that without a strong mandate to govern that he's not interested in the grief- would rather quit than spend his time governing on the edge of a cliff.]

KenS

Incorrect wrote:

The [3 parties] are floating the idea in public, with two weeks left in an election campaign, because they are trying to gauge public support for the idea. I expect that reaction over the next two weeks will either embolden them, or cause them to restrict the discussion to being nothing more than a hypothetical threat.

I dont think so.

"Gauge public opinion" implies being influenced by public opinion. Everyone has learned one lesson from last time: do it and people will get used to the idea. You cannot really gauge.

But more to the point. The 3 parties are floating the idea for different strategic reasons. The BQ and NDP get [different] benefits from the floating in itself. The Liberals do it because they have no choice: saying nothing opens them to more damage than what they get from floating it.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

@ KenS: Ignatieff is not an idiot - he knows that with just around 80 seats to the Conservatives 145 or so, the optics of him governing with help from both the NDP and BQ are simply unsustainable, and would likely drive the Conservatives well into a majority in the next election that follows.

In such a situation (LPC 80 / CPC 145) I have little doubt that Ignatieff and the Liberal caucus will feel they have no option but to support the Conservatives, no matter how odious they find Flaherty's budget.

KenS

I said that not wanting to govern with only 80 seats would be a widespread feeling in the LPC- not just Iggy.

But unless I'm mistaken, you have said that Iggy will have to be coerced into governing in partnership- even with enough seats that make it not a stretch.

Unionist

Um, Ken, what are you on about:

KenS wrote:
Nor is it going to be driven by ideology. It wont matter a fig that Iggnatieff or others in the LPC are more blue or less blue.

KenS wrote:
Again: having little to do with ideology. In fact, choice of direction will cut across ideological orientations.

KenS wrote:

BB, you really do seem convinced that Iggy will have to be coerced into governing dependent on the NDP.

Where is the evidence that ideological orientation is or was ever such a determining factor in the Liberal Party of Canada.

When did Boom Boom - or anyone else for that matter - mention ideology as a potential driver for the Liberals to seek a coalition?

Are you reading between the lines here or something? Because my computer screen doesn't allow me to do that. What are you on about? Forget ideology. The Liberals did long ago.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

KenS wrote:
I said that not wanting to govern with only 80 seats would be a widespread feeling in the LPC- not just Iggy.

I would agree with that.

KenS wrote:
But unless I'm mistaken, you have said that Iggy will have to be coerced into governing in partnership- even with enough seats that make it not a stretch.

No, I don't recall saying that. I said if the gap between the Libs and Cons were something like 125 - 110, and the Cons could not get the confidence of the House, that the G-G would ask Ignatieff to try to govern, and Ignatieff would accept the opportunity.

Ignatieff said the same thing actually, although I don't have an online link of him saying that.

mmphosis

remind wrote:

mmphosis wrote:
Mayhaps, the NDP, Greens and Bloc need to form an alliance.

There are NO Green MPs to form an alliance with....then of course there is the reality they are polling at about 3%,   not much above the Christian Heritage Party.

And speaking as if the Green Party was on equity with the NDP and Bloc has got to be the funniest thing I have heard today.

I am not suggesting that the Bloc (10% = 47 seats) and NDP (18.2% = 36 seats) form an alliance with non-existant MPs from the Green Party (6.8% = 0 seats.)

I am suggesting that after this election is over that the NDP and Bloc and Greens form an alliance as one party to win the next election.  Polls show that combined the NDP, Bloc and Greens often have more support than either the Cons or the Libs.  These three parties attract the same large majority of Canadians:  united we will win, divided we will continuously split the progressive vote.

Policywonk

Don't look now, but the Bloc is closer to 5% and is moving en masse to the NDP in Quebec. As for the Greens, much will depend on whether May gets elected (a long shot in my view). The total of the NDP, Bloc and Greens is rarely as high as the Conservatives, and hardly a majority of the electorate, let alone Canadians.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

A coalition of socialists, separatists, and tree-huggers? That would make the MSM sit up and take notice!

 Laughing LaughingLaughingLaughing

mmphosis

Policywonk wrote:

Don't look now, but the Bloc is closer to 5% and is moving en masse to the NDP in Quebec. As for the Greens, much will depend on whether May gets elected (a long shot in my view). The total of the NDP, Bloc and Greens is rarely as high as the Conservatives, and hardly a majority of the electorate, let alone Canadians.

EKOS [Ottawa – April 21, 2011]

34.4% Conservative

24.7% NDP Smile

24.7% Liberal

7.8% Green

6.5% Bloc

1.9% other

but, combine the percentages:  24.7% + 7.8% + 6.5% = 39.0% !!!

39.0% NDP Green Bloc Alliance

34.4% Conservative

24.7% Liberal

1.9% other

Although, maybe with the surge in percentage, the NDP doesn't need to form an alliance.  Regardless, I am hopeful.

samuelolivier

Don't forget that a lot of NDP voters in Quebec are also voting NDP because they are tired of the Bloc and the eternal Canada vs Quebec debate. I am pretty sure that the NDP will also take votes from the Conservative for that reason. NDP attracts soft sovereignists and federalists in Quebec.

takeitslowly

the reason why Harper can say a coaliton is not legitimate is because we have the Bloc, a separtist party. This makes it much easier to bash the coalition idea.

Policywonk

takeitslowly wrote:

the reason why Harper can say a coaliton is not legitimate is because we have the Bloc, a separtist party. This makes it much easier to bash the coalition idea.

Of course the Bloc was not and will not be part of a coalition. In any case, a minority government always needs the support of at least one other party, unless there are enough independents. Harper would be happy to accept the support of the Bloc if it kept him in power.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

takeitslowly wrote:

the reason why Harper can say a coaliton is not legitimate is because we have the Bloc, a separtist party. This makes it much easier to bash the coalition idea.

If the NDP really is eating the Bloc vote then the message that the NDP is going to rely on separatists for support in parliament becomes meaningless. If the NDP has more seats in Quebec than the Conservatives in the next House the dynamics will never be the same since how could anyone claim the leading federalist party from Quebec needs Duceppe.

jas

mmphosis wrote:

I am suggesting that after this election is over that the NDP and Bloc and Greens form an alliance as one party to win the next election.  Polls show that combined the NDP, Bloc and Greens often have more support than either the Cons or the Libs.  These three parties attract the same large majority of Canadians:  united we will win, divided we will continuously split the progressive vote.

Hmm. The Green Democratic Bloc! Wink

jas

Boom Boom wrote:

I'd love to see the Greens win a seat or two - especially if it is a Green with some proper environmental credentials. Just to shake up the House of Commons a bit!  Laughing

Me too, and I've always said this. I wonder when Greens will wake up and smell the wheatgrass juice? Success is within grasp for them, but each time they insist on running this full slate. There is nothing shameful about running a partial, strategic slate if it's what will actually get you into the House of Commons.

adma

jas wrote:
Me too, and I've always said this. I wonder when Greens will wake up and smell the wheatgrass juice? Success is within grasp for them, but each time they insist on running this full slate. There is nothing shameful about running a partial, strategic slate if it's what will actually get you into the House of Commons.

Though maybe to be practical, that'd depend on other candidates standing down and perhaps "joint tickets" (i.e. individuals running on a Liberal/Green ticket, etc)

bekayne

jas wrote:

Me too, and I've always said this. I wonder when Greens will wake up and smell the wheatgrass juice? Success is within grasp for them, but each time they insist on running this full slate. There is nothing shameful about running a partial, strategic slate if it's what will actually get you into the House of Commons.

Because people will say "they're not a serious party-they're not even running a full slate"

Unionist

jas wrote:

Hmm. The Green Democratic Bloc! Wink

Not bad, but it needs a leader. Elizagilles Mayton?

 

adma

Unionist wrote:

Not bad, but it needs a leader. Elizagilles Mayton?

That sounds like a character out of a TIm Burton movie.