Saturday, February 6, 2010

Possible NDP--Liberal Partnership Agreements

With the Canadian opposition parties meeting in private to discuss their parliamentary agenda, I have been considering various tactical agreements that we could see between the Liberals and the NDP. Yesterday I mulled the idea of the ultimate exercise in strategic voting, if both parties agreed not to run candidates against each other in any riding. I plugged the hypothesis test into my 2008 election matrix, and while the Tories still finished with the most seats, but the Liberals and the NDP had 155 combined.

The downfall of that strategy would be that the Liberals would have to announce intentions for a formal Coalition prior to a general election, which could frighten their right flank. It would also virtually eliminate all possibility of the Liberals winning a majority government. I don't think the proud Liberal Party would accept pulling candidates where the NDP is stronger. Leadership rival (and former NDP kingpin) Bob Rae I'm sure would much rather craft an agreement to formally fully absorb NDP membership into the LPC like a "sham wow". If 100% of NDP votes were absorbed into the LPC, the Liberals would defeat the Tories 153 to 113. Somehow I doubt Layton wants to go down in history as the leader who terminated the NDP.

If the oppositions votes non-confidence in the upcoming session, their best bet would be to try asking the Governor General to grant government to a Coalition partnership. I strongly doubt that Michaelle Jean would grant this request, and would be much more likely to call a general election. If that were the case, there would be immediate public anger at the opposition for forcing an election. I don't think it is in their best interest to force an election in the near term, even if they sense an opportunity in the polls.

Despite the different possibilities for strategic partnerships between the Liberals and the NDP (who may have realized that including the Bloc in their coup was not well received by Canadians), I don't think that they can win if they run an election on a Coalition. It is safe to assume that the spectrum of the political electorate follows a standard normal distribution with the greatest concentration in the exact center. Dion learned what happens when you green shift the LPC to the left, you frighten the center. For all the good will that is being wished upon Jack Layton right now from coast to coast, that does not change the fact that the NDP has a number of absolutely insane policies on their website (and those are just the ones to clear the focus groups).

The question is whether compassion felt by Canadians towards Jack Layton will make them more likely to vote NDP? What percentage of Liberal voters would need to defect to the NDP for the Tories to enter majority territory? The answer is just under 15% (which translates to roughly 4% in national polling). If the NDP were up near 20% with the Liberals under 30%, we would be in the range of a Tory majority government.

Honestly, I don't really know what is going to happen next, but I don't expect an election this year. What are the possible treaties on the table being discussed?  Or is it just a coordinated oppostion in lieu of a formal Coalition.


  1. I agree, I also don't expect an election in 2010. I think that plans are in the works for another attempt at a coalition between two, if not all, of the opposition parties. And I believe that this is what Mr. Iffy is referring to when he says that "Canadians don't want an election, they want an alternative". But unlike you, Iceman, the pain in my gut tells me that the Governor General will seriously consider it this time.

    Most likely the Fibs, and the NDP are already thinking of ways to tell the general public that there is no way they can accept the Budget, and that there is no way in good conscience they can allow the Conservatives to continue to govern. I believe this is why wedge issues, such as abortion for example, are now being floated by the Fibs. I think that they are trying to get certain parts of the population so mad at the Government, it will soften the blow of a coalition. Especially if it involves the Bloc.

  2. I don't see an election after the budget either. Lots of reasons, mostly monetary.
    Remember too, the 60+ MPs from all parties who were first elected on June 28th, 2004, and need to survive until their 6th anniversary, so as to qualify for their full pension.

    It's going to be tough to get 145 MPs to stand in the House and vote against us. All the focus is on what the Libs will do. But there is the possibility that the Bloc will vote for the budget.

    How can they do that and save face ? Harper could promise legislation to limit the spending power of the feds in areas of Provincial jurisdiction. Duceppe has been asking for that for a long time (he actually wants it written into the Constitution !).

    The goal is for Parliament to continue, everybody walks out after the vote, having saved face, and with half-assed credible talking points. Harper and Duceppe are the two adults in the group.

  3. Iceman,

    I have no probelm with a coalition. Under the following circumstance. If they want to form a coalition, then they need to annouce it as policy during any campaign and run on that platform. If they don't then I think it is a sham.

    But if they go to the people during an election and let them know that if they have the seat total they will form a coalition government and the people still vote for them, well so be it.

    I won't like it and I don't think it is what is best for Canada in the long run, but they put it out to the people in an election and were still voted in so I would say that the people spoke and even though I disagree with it. They were open and honest about it.

    That being said if they pull another trick like they did last time. I hope Harper let's it go through and they fall flat on there face when the eventual in fighting begins and Harper should cruise to a Majority Government like hasn't been scene since Mulrooney.


  4. "Canadians don't want an election, they want an alternative"

    Isn't that the biggest load of bull you have ever heard!

    If Canadians wanted and alternative government, they would want an election...
    That's how we do it here, we elect governments and leaders,
    we do not execute coups.

  5. And,
    if the Dippers and Liberals do not run against each other, but only run one or the other in ridings,
    they have effectively united the left,
    because NEITHER Libs nor Dippers from that point on, are 'national' parties on their own.

    And what about the ridings were they are not competitive,
    do they draw straws at which party should run,
    or run both, like a 2 tier campaign?

    How would they, in the following election, resurrect a competition in the ridings they forfeited the election before if the chosen 1/2 of the coalition loses?

    The ONLY way they can go is unite totally,
    or run on Libs and Dippers would form a coalition if they had the numbers between them to win a majority.

    But Iffy has already said that if he wins a 'minority' he will NOT form a coalition.
    In other words, Iffy will only form a coalition if that is the only way he can Jack likes that, eh.

    But that is what Iffy said,
    and we all know his word is worth squat.

  6. Actually, there is a plan being discuss.