From the ground up - Macleans.ca
 

From the ground up


 

Glenn Wheeler argues that any future Liberal-NDP coalition will have to be driven by party rank-and-file.

It’s up to us envelope-lickers and door-knockers to create the political space for an honest dialogue about getting our parties to work together after the next election night. Unlike career hacks, we peons have little to lose, other than the country as we know it…

But for a coalition to be legitimate, the Liberal and NDP leaders have to acknowledge before the election that they are prepared to enter into such an arrangement if no majority emerges. For Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton to be able to make such an admission, their respective grassroots must demand that they do so. That way, coalition will appear to be an answer to public pressure rather than the last resort of losers.


 

From the ground up

  1. "It's up to us envelope-lickers and door-knockers to create the political space for an honest dialogue about getting our parties to work together after the next election night."

    Good luck with that. I know anecdote is not data but from my experience, supporters of NDP and Libs loathe one another to a level not reached by any other combination of party's supporters. Dippers and Liberals seem to think they agree on many topics but wait till they have to come to agreement over the role of the market in Canadian life.

    It will all quickly end in tears.

    • I dunno. Layton was willing to let Dion continue with corporate tax cuts as planned. Seems to me like it could work. And dippers ought to be happy. It's the closest they would ever get to holding power.

    • To paraphrase people smarter than I: nothing unites [political parties] like a common enemy.

    • I know anecdote is not data but from my experience, supporters of NDP and Libs loathe one another to a level not reached by any other combination of party's supporters.

      I don't know about that… I recall a lot of dislike and mistrust between the PC and the Reform/Alliance/Reform-Alliance/Conservative-Reform-Alliance/We're-so-mad-we-can't-pick-a-name-and-stick-with-it parties, but they managed to come together. All that took was brow-beating from old PC icons, business leaders, and a whole bunch of political backstabbing and outright lies.

      I would think the mutual loathing of Harper would be enough to uncleft the left.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Nl5NACLd0

      An alliance with the Liberals would be a mistake for the NDP. The NDP need to replace the Liberals as the default progressive left of centre party. A coalition would provide the Liberals life support to fight another day and recover.

      History shows when the NDP cooperate with Liberals, the NDP become redundent.
      Trudeau, Chretien benefited from a weak NDP.

  2. "But for a coalition to be legitimate, the Liberal and NDP leaders have to acknowledge before the election that they are prepared to enter into such an arrangement if no majority emerges. "

    So if the Harper govt does not announce, before an election, that they intend to form a coalition with any party, does it make it illegitimate for the Cons to do so too?

    Otherwise, why are we holding the opposition parties up to a higher standard, considering that our Constitution allows coalitions to be formed legitimately for the purposes of forimg a stable government if the need arises post election?

    Coalition of losers? Lol. When voters elect a minority government, it is clear that they are not giving any party a clear mandate it is the winner and the others are losers.

    • I think it would be helpful if they stopped categorically denying the possibility of coalitions.

      • I agree on this point.

  3. @Anon ABC – Have a good luck in the mirror sunshine! If NO party gets 50% plus 1 – then they are ALL losers – according to the FPP system of elections. Mr. Harper (and you) can spin the facts every which way – but they are irrefutable. He has been hanging on to power by temporary coalitions ever since – vote by vote. Do any of the other party leaders trust him enough to form a long term coalition with him. Doubtful – but maybe you could convince me!
    On the other hand – all of the Opposition parties currently stand unlikely to gain the necessary 50% plus 1 – and there is some basis of trust and common ground between them.
    We live in interesting times.

    • Not sure if I understand you first line. That was my point, actually, that voters have not given any single party a strong mandate in the case of a minority Parliament. I do also agree that it appears there are more common grounds among the opposition parties that any one of them with the Cons.

  4. In the long term, the NDP has everything to gain from such an arrangement. The Liberals have everything to lose.

    It will be interesting to see whether the LPC leadership sees it the same way, and if so whether they have the stones to go with that assessment.

    • I agree. The Liberals and NDP may be able to form the next government by coalition, but long term this will benefit the Conservatives, as the Liberals are pulled further to the left – Go for it!

      Especially if a coalition places the least popular federal leader in the Prime Minister's office

    • "It will be interesting to see whether the LPC leadership sees it the same way, and if so whether they have the stones to go with that assessment."

      I think that they already have.

    • I disagree the NDP have the most to lose by keeping the Liberals afloat.

  5. In the Ekos survey just before the 2008 election 12.6% of Liberals and 13.8% of NDP'ers listed the Conservatives as their second choice. If you assume that those voters would defect to the Tories in the case of a pre-announced coalition, and assume a baseline of the 2008 election results, the Tories would have won a sizable majority of 185 seats.

    A pre-announced coalition will need to compensate for these defections by increasing its electoral efficiency. If the NDP and Liberals agree to not run against one another in key ridings, they can more than make up the losses inherent in a preannounced coalition.

    • . . . the Tories would have won a sizable majority of 185 seats.

      If pigs had wings . . . Harper and y'all would have a majority government.

      But, they don't.

      • My point is that Liberal-Tory and NDP-Tory switchers are likely to prefer the Conservative party to an NDP-Liberal coalition. While not huge in number, they are numerous enough to cause serious problems for an NDP-Liberal coalition. In fact my estimates probably underestimate the defection rate. When the Alliance and PCs – two parties that were reasonably close on the ideological spectrum – united they lost over 20% of their initial support (Reform and the PCs combined had consistently won 35-38% of the vote through the 90s), despite a major scandal in the Liberal party.

  6. Can you tell the Conservatives are scared s*&tless by a coalition?

    • They should be.

    • Harper has never polled better than in the wake of the coalition crisis. In the Fall when an election was looming, he regularly referred to the coalition as a means to whip up support (and judging by the polls, he was successful). But yes, Harper is absolutely terrified of a coalition that would combine the Liberal ability to communicate a vision for Canada, with the NDP's well-known competence and experience in government.

      • " NDP's well-known competence and experience in government" – what country was this in?

  7. I have been waiting a long time for this. So glad to see it happening, finally.

    Harper should worry because this here will be his undoing.

    • Nothing like counting chickens before they hatch.

      It must be depressing realizing the natural governing party is NOT the default option and need the NDP.