Greetings – first, a big thank you to Dan Karipides for inviting me to blog in this space. Whether or not this is what he intended, for the next couple of months I’ll be primarily blogging on the upcoming Canadian election. As Dan indicated, on November 29th, the Governor-General of Canada dissolved the 38th Parliament, and issued a writ of election with a polling day of January 23, 2006.
I’m going to talk mostly about the recent polls, what they mean, and what we can expect in the general election. As in any Westminster system of government, should a party win greater than 50% of the seats (155 seats in this case), they’ll have a majority and will basically control the entire legislative agenda, as well as the entire cabinet, for the next four or so years. If no one gets 155 seats, then the Governor-General may ask some group of parties to try to form a coalition to govern, or she may simply ask the party with the plurality of seats to attempt to govern until they lose a “confidence vote”, meaning a money bill or an outright vote of non-confidence, which happened to the Liberals on November 28th. There are a number of polls out there, mostly giving a national breakdown of party preference, but since Canada uses a first-past-the-post system like the American Electoral College, regional voting preferences mean everything.
There are 308 ridings across the country. We’ll start in the east:
Atlantic Canada consists of the Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador. There are 32 seats in total up for grabs here. In 2004, the Liberals got 44% of the popular vote in the region, the Conservatives got 30% of the popular vote, and the NDP got 23% of the vote. This got the Liberals 22 seats, the Conservatives 7 seats, and the NDP 3 seats.
SES Research currently has the Liberals polling at 50%, the Conservatives at 36%, and the NDP down to 11% in Atlantic Canada. Let’s start with the NDP, who are down by 12% from their last outing. Two of their three seats are in very NDP-safe areas where they aren’t vulnerable at all, Acadie-Bathurst (New Brunswick), and Sackville-Eastern Shore (Nova Scotia). Alexa McDonough just barely won Halifax (Nova Scotia) for the NDP last time around, and since they’re polling so much lower this time, I’ll give this seat to the Liberal challenger.
Since the Liberals and Conservatives are polling close to the same relative to each other, I’ll say the other 29 ridings are a wash at this point. The biggest unknown at this point is what will happen the rest of the campaign – just as in the United States, six weeks in a political campaign is an eternity.
My prediction (for now): Liberals +1 to 23 seats, Conservatives even at 7 seats, NDP minus 1 to two seats.
Stay tuned for my predictions in Quebec, Ontario, and the rest of Canada!