Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Come On Up For the Rising

Source: EKOS Politics: Seat Projection April 25th, 2011
Source: Bruce Springsteen - The Rising

For a bit the media has drawn a comparison to Ignatieff's call on Canadians to rise up as being likened to Bruce Springsteen's song the Rising. I've included it at the top, make up your mind as to whether the comparison is fair.

There are few moments in politics that can be referred to as a game changer. Certainly, debates have in the past become electoral game changers, but everyone almost agrees that we did not see that in either of the leader debates of this campaign.

But we have the the 'Orange Wave' ride up and begin to sweep across the nation. I'm speaking off course about the NDP polling numbers that have been steadily on the rise. Everyone knows this kicked off in Quebec, where for the first time ever, the NDP's polling numbers were higher than the Bloc Quebecois.

But now we're seeing NDP support surging in a lot of those key 'battle grounds' that the Conservatives were looking at. Places in mainland British Columbia, places here in Saskatchewan, and more in roads in Ontario. And for the most part, it looks like those in roads are actually working as NDP candidates find themselves being boosted and coming within striking distance of a few Conservatives across the nation.

A recent EKOS poll is showing just how much of a game changer this swift is support could be if the numbers hold come May 2nd.

Here's the overview:

Conservatives: 131 (down 12 seats before dissolution)
Liberals: 62 (down 15 seats before dissolution)
Bloc: 14 (down a whopping 33 seats before dissolution)
NDP: 100 (up a whopping 64 seats before dissolution)

Those numbers are significant if only because they're showing that the NDP is the currently looking like the only party that will gain seats in this election. All the other parties stand to lose seats, as opposed to gain them.

This of course is bad news for Stephen Harper, given that his dreams of a majority government are now more or less completely tossed out the window...And his odds of being able to survive a leadership review from his party after failing to win a majority AND potentially allowing a NDP/Lib coalition to form will also be next to none.

If these numbers hold, not only will the Canadian political landscape have shifted enough to finally convince Canadians that the NDP is a viable option to form government, but it will also cut the last tethers of Stephen Harper's leadership.

Personally, that's a win-win for me.

Which brings me to the speculation.

If these numbers hold, what exactly does it mean for Canada?

Harper will get his chance to form government, there's no doubt of that, but will he be able to hold it? That's where we start to get some interesting possibilities.

The Liberals have damned Harper and his practices for years, so could they form a coalition government with the Conservatives in order to prevent an NDP led coalition? After all, Ignatieff said he'd work with any party, including Mr. Harper's, to make sure parliament could work. So, could we see a Conservative-Liberal coalition for the sole purpose of preventing an NDP one should the government be defeated on the throne speech?

Personally, I don't think this could happen.

Despite the talk of being open to working, Ignatieff has also set his party on such a complete opposition path than the Conservatives. Furthermore, after this campaign and the attacks Ignatieff leveled at Harper, there's no way he could save face by working with Harper after the election.

If Ignatieff attempted to prop up the Harper Conservatives, either through a full coalition or a similar 'loss of backbone' we saw in the last session of the House of Commons, Ignatieff is doing his party more harm than good. After all, they've painted Harper as a the boogyman; and some videos have painted him as Emperor Palpatine.

And while the idea of being Harper's Darth Vader sounds cool in theory, it would be the further death knell towards the Liberal Party I think Ignatieff is hoping to avoid.

So, could the NDP and the Conservatives work together?

This is also doubtful.

The NDP would demand massive changes to the law and order bills, the scrapping of the F-35s, and the billions for prisons; measures the Conservatives would not back down on. And the Conservatives would not go far enough in implementing programs for seniors and students and middle class families.

As such, there can be no deal here.

Which brings us to the only real possibility: the NDP-Liberal Coalition, now Bloc free. If the Bloc is diminished to 14 seats, they are taken out of the equation. Even if the Conservatives wooed the Bloc, they would only have 157 seats compared to the 162 found in the NDP-Lib Coalition.

As such, it seems clear that the major objection to the coalition: Working with 'separatists' has now been removed.

These are the options Canadians will have if polling numbers continue to stay where they are. But of course, things could change. Some parties will go up and others will go down. But a few things are clear:

1.) No party is likely to win a majority government come May 2nd.

2.) The Conservatives seem best suited to win a minority right now, but they have seen poll dropping numbers and we don't know how low they will go. It is doubtful that the NDP could pass them as the first choice party, but we just don't know.

3.) Harper's forth failure (2004 - 2006 - 2008 - 2011) to capture a majority will start the wheel of fortune spinning against his continued leadership; even if he was Prime Minister, his failure to win a majority will show that he's too polarizing a figure to ever get the magical coalition of youth, women, and moderate voters that could hand him a majority. As such, the party will have to look for someone who could pull this off, and it isn't Stephen Harper.

4.)The Liberals still have a lot of work to do, but this decimation of their party, if it continues into this election and the one that comes after it, could lead to a 'unite the left' movement like we saw with the CA - PCs. I'm not sure how successful it would be, given that a bunch of us die-hard NDPers would feel pretty uncomfortable actually merging with the Liberals, but I'm sure there may be a push to try.

But, we'll hopefully have a good last reflection post the day before the election to see which way the winds are blowing.

But with the NDP rolling this high, and to borrow a quote from Bob Dylan, it surely looks like the times they are a changin'.

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