Cooperative math is complicated -

Cooperative math is complicated

Uniting the left is still harder than it sounds


Paul Adams wonders what it would take for the New Democrats and Liberals to consider a merger. Greg Fingas notes a wrinkle in Joyce Murray’s cooperation proposal: Ms. Murray wants to combine the 2008 and 2011 election results for the purposes of figuring out where to cooperate, in part so that an “anomaly” like the NDP’s result in Quebec in 2011 can be accounted for.

Now, one of the main criticisms of strategic voting schemes has been their inevitable reliance on re-fighting the last war – with results ranging from ineffective to downright counterproductive. But Murray apparently isn’t satisfied with even that well-established level of failure. Instead, she’s going a step further into the past, seeking to incorporate yet another layer of past (and outdated) data from the 2008 election in order to try to make her proposal palatable among supporters who apparently want to live in denial that the most recent federal election actually happened.

Moreover, she’s explicitly declaring that a plan nominally aimed at expanding the number of progressive seats in Parliament will operate on the assumption that the largest actual grouping of such seats is an irrelevant “anomaly”. (Not that the NDP’s success in winning Quebec ridings from the Cons and Bloc would be subject to her cooperation plan in the first place – as in another familiar failing of strategic voting schemes, Murray doesn’t seem to recognize that a viable coalition needs to hold and build on the seats it actually holds rather than simply assuming the rest of the election will proceed exactly like the previous one.)

See previously: Gaming the system and Don’t go chasing waterfalls


Cooperative math is complicated

  1. At the moment it looks like Justin will win the leadership, and shortly thereafter, the election.

    There are also already a steady stream of hints that Harp is departing.

    So I’d say the moment for a merger has already passed. The ‘window of opportunity’ is closed, and the NDP is into it’s sunset stage.

    However…..if anything like this gets discussed again, I’d suggest they form a totally new party…..rather than just try to merge the two old ones.

    • Dunno.. that 37-39% base is a pretty hefty hill for any of the more progressive parties to climb. Especially with the NDP’s showing in last election, which will prompt more people to take them seriously, thus exacerbating the progressive split (to say nothing of May’s Greens)

      I mean, sure, conservative supporters may be starting to spit when they start thinking about what I’ve heard called, “the for-granted vote”, but at the end of the day, where else are they going to turn? (Which is part of the reason why I so wish the Green Party would ditch May and take a rightward shift again).

      • NDP are likely a one time fluke because of Layton. Since then, they’ve gone nowhere. And Harp’s performance…..not to mention Albertas… likely to shake others loose in the west.

        We have too many parties and all over the map….we need one decent one in govt.

  2. I’m sure nothing would please the Harperites more than watching their opposition wade into the hopeless morass of negotiation and quibbling that this loony plan would entail, prior to or during the next campaign.

    The analogy of circling the wagons and shooting inward comes to mind.

    Short of one of the opposition parties winning a clear majority, the only way in which progressives can realistically displace the Cons would be to hammer out a coalition in the event that election results leave Harper with a minority.

  3. Joyce Murray’s proposal would destroy the Liberal Party. You’d be asking people in more than 100 ridings (at least) to stand down. You think those same people who were willing to volunteer for, campaign for and donate money to a party that’s a shell of its former self are going to twiddle their thumbs and cut you a cheque the day after the 2015 election when you unlock the door and say they’re allowed to come in again?

  4. The way to get this done is for one party to hold a leadership convention in which the winning candidate promises in writing that he will never negotiate a merger and then promptly turns over the keys to that party.

    • Ya! But first we’ll need some poor sap whose views are somewhat outside the party mainstream to exchange his support to get this promise in writing.

  5. ‘Cooperative math is complicated for progressives’, more like. Wherry, I often think your titles are missing a word or three.

    • Much like all your posts?

  6. Nobody has explained how progressive “cooperation” will get around Canada’s election laws. If you don’t run a candidate in every riding, a party cannot spend the same amount of money.

    If there is progressive cooperation, why shouldn’t there be just one overall spending limit for the “coalition”.

    If there is progressive “cooperation’, how can more than one leader appear in the televised debates.