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What would the House of Commons look like under a Liberal-NDP merger? June 20, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Canada.
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It’s been a while since I did any Canadian politics ranting.

Coalition government and/or a left-wing merger in Canada is all the rage at the Globe and Mail, with a Globe and Mail editorial discussing the ramifications of a shift left, Jeffrey Simpson arguing that the whole thing is a stupid idea, and Neil Reynolds talking about the Whigs for no good reason. The arguments on all sides contemplate a merger or coalition of the Liberals and the New Democratic Party, which is the most logical assumption considering that the Greens are nonviable nationally (although I did enjoy discussing the “hypothetical Mango Coalition” that could result from the 2008 election if the red, orange, and green parties joined up).

I’m interested in the effect of a merger, so I’m going to make some assumptions, not all of which are warranted:

  • The Bloc Québecois is not party to any coalition. BQ voters will always vote for the BQ. (This is probably the weakest assumption, since the BQ actively campaigns for votes and almost certainly won marginal candidates.)
  • The Green Party is not party to any coalition. Green voters will always vote for the Greens. (Again, this is a fairly weak assumption and I might examine the hypothetical Mango Coalition in a later post, but they’re not considered relevant by the editorialists so I’ll ignore them. However, they would have made quite a difference in the model below.)
  • Ridings won with a majority by any party remain with that party.
  • A riding won with a plurality by a Liberal or NDP candidate would remain with the merged party regardless of the current vote split.
  • A riding won with a plurality by a Conservative or BQ candidate needs to be reconsidered. I’ll do so by assuming that 66% of the NDP vote goes to the merged party and the other 34% evaporates (to model voters being displeased by a perceived shift to the middle and staying home). Based on those numbers, the party with a plurality takes the seat.

There were some surprising results. The Liberal-NDP merged party ended up poaching 24 seats in total, including 17 from the Conservatives and 7 from the Bloc Québecois. In total, that puts the parties at:Pie chart of the House of Commons under a hypothetical merger

  • Liberal Democrats: 137 seats
  • Conservatives: 127 seats
  • Bloc Québecois: 41 seats
  • Independent: 3 seats

This puts a different spin on the current House. However, we must take into account the Bloc’s behavior. After the 2008 election, there was discussion of a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition government. However, it is not in the Bloc’s interest to form a coalition, since the Grits’ position on Québec sovereignty is not compatible with the Bloc’s. As a result, we must consider this a non-coalition government – a majority run by the Grits.

It’s difficult to imagine this situation as being much better for the Grits. Dion would have run a minority government, but as a weak leader he likely would have been forced into an election some time between October 2008 and now. Ignatieff would still have been waiting in the wings to take over the leadership of the party in the ensuing chaos.

A merger is not a panacea.

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Duceppe: the Biggest Loser? December 3, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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AngryFrenchGuy thinks so.

Gilles Duceppe also lost the best gig in parliamentary politics this week: perpetual opposition.  The right…   – no, the constitutional duty – to rip the government and the other parties apart without ever having to offer a viable alternative.

Duceppe is in the position known in game theory as the kingmaker. He cannot achieve his goals on his own, and thus cannot “win” the government. He can only decide which of the two other parties becomes the government.

I disagree that he doesn’t gain anything, however; the instability of the government may provide him with the ability to pick up marginal seats in the next election, and could conceivably help his PR for future separation referendum purposes. Only time will tell.

Separatists in the House of Commons December 3, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Disclaimer: The title of my blog, “Heureusement, ici, c’est le Blog!”, is a pun, not an endorsement of the Bloc Quebecois. I harbor no particular affinity for the Bloc Quebecois. Though this post argues for acceptance of the Bloc as a coalition member, it does so solely on rational grounds which could be applied in any analogous situation of home-rule separatism.

There have been a number of complaints about the separatist/sovereigntist influence on the House of Commons under the proposed left-wing coalition in Canada. The concerns appear to be that A) Separatists are a bad thing to have in the national government, and B) It is undemocratic to topple the plurality government of the Conservatives. Behind the cut, I’d like to discuss these concerns.

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Quickie: Change-in-Government Roundup December 2, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Quick roundup of news and editorials about the leadership crisis in Canada.

Background: After spending $300 million for an election to congeal his minority into a majority government, Stephen Harper made little progress and ended up with another minority government. This appeared to be well and good, despite the fact that a coalition of the left-wing parties plus the Bloc Quebecois could easily defeat the Conservative government in a confidence motion if it decided to do so. However, because Harper failed to deliver an economic stimulus package in his fall budget, the coalition is attempting to take over as government.

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