Sunday, September 20, 2009

Natural Governing Party?

I wrote this in May, but it is every bit as applicable today as it was then. The myth that the Liberals are the "Natural Governing Party" of Canada deserves at least some scrutiny, if not outright mythbusting...

I keep hearing that the Liberal Party is the "natural governing party" in Canada. When you look at modern history, the past 30 years, we have had 10 elections. Recent memory calls to attention nearly 12 years of Liberal majorities, 3 elections where the Conservative Party was split in two. With two Conservative Parties, the Liberals were 3 for 3 in winning majorities. What about when there has been a united right in the past 30 years? There were 7 elections producing one Liberal majority and one Liberal minority. That means that the Conservative Party has won over 70% of elections with a united right in the past 30 years. This then begs the question, who is the natural governing party in recent history? The Liberals can only conquer when their enemy is divided, so to all those Mulroney loyalists under our tent, I say it is okay to be frustrated but you need to relax.

I already know what the response of Liberals will be to the diatribe above; that the Liberals have done what they have done with a divided left. To that I have two rebuttals:

1) Use that as an excuse as much as you'd like, but until the NDP ceases to exist, there is nothing that you can do about it. You can elect a leader who can attempt to outflank the NDP on the left (like a Dion), but in doing so you lose the center where most Canadians are. You can try to merge with the NDP, and to that I say good night and good luck. In the meantime, the NDP isn’t going anywhere.

2) There is no evidence that NDP voters would all move unquestionably to the Liberal Party if disbanded. The NDP is a Trade Union party more than the bleeding heart Marxist idealism of Jack Layton. The NDP will always behave in a manner that funnels as much money as possible to their base, unions and poor people. I draw a distinction because the two key demographics of the NDP base because many people in unions make really good money. I have worked on jobs at unionized sites, construction, factory, etc. Based on my own experiences, I would say that a substantial number of unionized blue collar workers, if they were to sit down and debate social policy with Jack Layton, they wouldn't agree on all that much. Layton is an idealist, not a roughneck.

The interesting data comes in the form of New Found Land. Danny Williams ran his "Anybody But Conservatives" campaign, which cost the Tories about 60,000 votes. Many of those people just didn't vote, and a large majority voted for the NDP. The Liberals did not experience any statistically significant gain. This suggests that there is indeed a bridge between the Tories and the NDP. It may not manifest itself in the words of their leadership, but rather in the ballot box.


  1. There is no evidence that NDP voters would all move unquestionably to the Liberal Party if disbanded.

    BC is another example of this. Of all the provinces, BC politics are the craziest. From winning elections on the promise of lower beer prices to 3 Premiers in a row resigning in discrace and amid investigations into illegal activity.

    In BC you mostly, except in the urban parts of the lower mainland, see the voters move back and forth between the NDP and the Conservatives. That's because both these parties, to a certain extent, are seen as the party of the little guy. Not the party of the "big city folk" like the Liberals.

  2. The Liberals have become a regional and idealogical protest party for Toronto and Montreal, much like the Reform Party or the Bloc Quebecois were/are for their "tribes." They have little hope of forming the government but TO/MTL park their votes with them anyway. They are not a natural governing party.