Political parties don't die so easily - Macleans.ca

Political parties don’t die so easily

The big news: It’s silly to suggest established parties will vanish forever


Paul Chiasson/CP

“It’s a far cry from where they were not long ago.” —The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson, on how Liberals are winning again after a miserable electoral drought

Our political leaders, and their political parties, can’t seem to lose without being declared dead. Liberals endured a terrible run after the 2011 federal election when they could perfected the art of defeat. Prince Edward Island was made to be the party’s last stand. Death was near, many assumed. How could a middle-of-the-road party survive in a country where voters were increasingly polarized between Conservatives and New Democrats?

Well, easy. By winning. Stephen McNeil has invigorated the Liberal brand by sweeping Darrell Dexter’s NDP out of power in Nova Scotia. Justin Trudeau has the party atop national polls. Now, death is not so near. The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson wonders if the NDP’s devastating loss in the Maritimes is a “straw in the wind of what the party dreads”; namely, getting squeezed out by Liberals.

Not so long ago, the NDP was so buoyed by its success at the federal level that victory seemed possible everywhere. They were favourites in B.C. They competed in Newfoundland, and governed Nova Scotia. They were reasonably popular in Ontario. They’d won another term in Manitoba. Momentum found its way into every region.

Then, things turned sour. The party lost to the traditional parties in B.C. and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and haven’t broken through in Ontario. Time to question the party’s mortality, right? How can a left-wing party survive in a country where voters are returning to traditional parties like Liberals and Conservatives?

Well, easy. By winning. Simpson points out that the NDP are “slumping” in Newfoundland, which is true. The party’s dipped in the polls. But the NDP remains in second place to the Liberals, and the NDP’s Lorraine Michael is the province’s most popular leader. Win an election there, and then win more seats than anyone predicts in the next Ontario election, and social democrats are back in the game, turning heads and gaining coveted momentum.

Or maybe not. But it sure is silly to predict that political parties will languish in obscurity because they lose a few elections.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail Alice Munro, Canada’s most recent Nobel laureate, hasn’t said much publicly.
National Post Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin want to buy BlackBerry.
Toronto Star The newspaper sends a reporter to work in a Bangladesh garment factory.
Ottawa Citizen An autistic boy and his family could be evicted from their Ottawa home.
CBC News The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an anti-chemical weapons group.
CTV News John Greyson and Tarek Loubani have apparently left Egypt.
National Newswatch Former Jack Layton aide Anne McGrath is returning to the NDP.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Politics. Richard Le Lay, a well-connected political operative in Quebec who advised provincial and federal Conservative governments for decades, is heading back to Ottawa to work on behalf of Quebec’s Parti Quebecois government. The committed sovereigntist first worked for his province’s Union Nationale government in the 1960s.
THE GLOBAL Charles Taylor. The former Liberian president will serve a 50-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom. Taylor, convicted of helping rebels commit atrocities in Sierra Leone, was found guilty on 11 counts, including terrorism, rape, murder and the use of child soldiers. He was the first head of state convicted by an international court in decades.
THE QUIRKY Dead man. Donald Miller, Jr., a 61-year-old Ohio man, vanished in the 1980s. He lived in Georgia and Florida, and was eventually declared dead. Eight years ago, he returned to Ohio and attempted to renew his driver’s licence. Earlier this week, a judge ruled that death rulings can only be changed within three years, so Miller’s remains legally dead.

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