So, we had an election last night and, despite the pompous prognosticatings of the New York Times, this was not “a striking turn in the country’s politics”.
Let’s do the math (from the CBC results reporting): 308 ridings
So, to get anything passed, you need 155 votes. How are the Conservatives going to manage this? They will not likely be able to secure a strong coalition: ideologically their nearest neighbours are in the Liberal party and, well, there’s a load of hate between those two. Numerically, the Bloc could do it (and it would be interesting to see a political marriage between the separatists and the former Reform members who form a significant part of the current Conservative membership), but they’re well left of the Liberals on points of policy. The NDP surprised many by serving as the support for the last Liberal minority, but at least they had many policies in common.
Harper will have to tack a sharp left if he’s to form a lasting coalition and I don’t see that happening. He owes the right wing of his party too darned much. So I expect to see some point-by-point agreements hammered out to put through a few key promises (probably the GST reduction) while Harper relies on extra-parliamentary powers to let him shape the government (expect announcements of more Canadian troop commitments in Afghanistan, which I wouldn’t mind, and Iraq, which would drive many Canadians crazy!). They’ll probably call a free vote on gay marriage in the late spring or summer. Expect that to be defeated, unless my reading of the surviving Liberals is wrong (there are a lot of people in that party who voted the party line in permitting gay marriage the other year and they just might take that back, if given the freedom).
Like James Bow, I expect Gilles Duceppe to take a hit. Yes, the Bloc has 51 seats but it lost three seats as well as a chunk of the popular votes to the Conservatives. The Bloc doesn’t take kindly to leaders, however eloquent and experienced, who can be perceived as weakening their cause.
I’ll also note that parliament will see even fewer women MPs in this latest shake-up. From 65 women MPs in the last parliament to 60 or fewer in this, it’s not a good trend although the odds were stacked against them as only 23% of the candidates were female. Again, unsurprising: there’s not a big drive in the Conservative or Liberal party for better gender representation, as far as I can see — only the NDP has really pushed hard on this issue, mustering women as 35% of their candidates. The matter’s complicated by language politics and the long political coat-tails that drag deep into the riding associations, seeking to secure a leader’s affinity first, satisfy equality issues a distant second, third or fourth.
All in all, it will be an interesting next few months watching the Conservatives try to assemble a shaky coalition or rule, issue-by-issue, without one. When they finally have to put out a budget, things could get really hairy. We might be back to the polls in a year or less!
As I said, In-teresting!