Monday, May 15, 2006

Why Did The Liberals Not Build A Coalition With The NDP In 2006?

I am a member of the Canadian Political Science Association and I received an email from Dr. David MacDonald, Senior Lecturer of Political Studies at the University of Otago where he asked, "why did the Liberals not build a coalition with the NDP in 2006?"

Please find below part of his email. I find it quite interesting and think that in the future, this is something Canada should consider doing. The idea definitely represents thinking outside the box.

Why did the Liberals not build a coalition with the NDP in 2006?

Just something that's puzzling me about the Canadian political system, perhaps POLCAN members can help. I am Canadian political scientist based at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I am puzzled by the apathy of both the Librals and NDP in the wake of the 2006 election results. What we have down here in NZ which works extremely well is the building of formal coalition governments, even if they are minority governments.

In the last Canadian election we have the following:

Conservative 124 seats 36.3%
Liberal 103 seats 30.2%
NDP 29 seats 17.5%

If the Liberals and NDP had gone into coalition as they might have done in Australia, or New Zealand, or in non-Westminster systems like Germany and France, we would have had a coalition government with 47.4% of the popular vote and 132 seats. This would represent a far more stable and democratic option than the current structure where the majority of Canadians have supported centre-left parties, only to be left out in the cold.

Why is Canada one of the few western countries to not explore the coalition government option as far as it can go? Neither the Liberals nor the NDP needed to cede power to the Conservatives. I believe Prime Minister Martin’s announcement of defeat and resignation was premature. If one takes into account that the Bloc is a centre-left party as well – the vast majority of Canadians, federalists and separatists voted centre left. It seems patently undemocratic to have a center-right party dominated by near Neo-Conservatives at the helm of our country.

In most western democracies coalitions are extremely common. Germany, France and Italy provide other examples. Natural coalitions of like-minded parties who share similar views that the mood of the electorate veers to either the center-left or center-right. We need to reappraise coalition politics in Canada and get away fromthe dominant one-party-takes-all mentality.

Canada sadly remains mired bythe traditional American and British two-party model, although Canada’s political system is far more vibrant than either of these two other systems.


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you propose is too much of a common sense way of dealing with these neo-cons, but what you fail to see is how the NDP caters only to its self benefit to the detriment of Canadian society. Mr. Laytons only purpose is to build up NDP numbers not actually do anything substantial. The Liberals are replacing their leader after two failed attempts at a majority, the conservatives would have replaced Harper this time around had he not won. Even the Greens are replacing their leader. Yet the NDP are sticking with Jack yet again though he fails to attract voters.
Seems to be more of self interst than Canadian interests.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger S.K. said...

The real question is why did the NDP sacrifice Native Rights and Dignity, a national Early Child Development agreement, Kyoto, personal tax cuts, gun control, and possibly SSM and eventually abortion rights to gain a couple of seats and have less power.

Jack Layton is a clown. Sorry I have absolutely no respect for the man after bringing down the govenment last fall. From 1965 to 1968 the NDP supported the Liberal minority Government of Lester Pearson and helped bring forward numerous progressive reforms with the Liberals including universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, bilingualism, and a greater role in international relations.

Too bad their Leader was too stupid and self-motivated aka a seat for his wife to think along these lines and work with the Liberals for another year or two.

Now they're S.O.L.

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I have known many political science professors in the past I am relieved to discover today that their unbiased analysis continues to educate the next generation. The Liberals and NDP cannot merge without splitting off major groups of supporters on both sides. Blue Liberals would gravitate towards the Conservatives, as we have seen in BC when the threat of real socialists emerge, and from the NDP greens, browns, socialists, anti-globalizationists, anti-Americans, and nutbars would move to the Green Party or start a new Waffle Party. I believe the lines of political demarcation would just shift without achieving any net gain.

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The New Democrats and the Liberals are two different set of ideologies completely. We may share the same stances as the NDP both on social and economics. We in the end we look at the same outcome for Canada to exceed in the world, however we believe in different ways to get there.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Zac said...

Interesting. It's actually something that I considered on election night.

We could have signed up with the NDP, similar to the Bob Rae/David Peterson deal in Ontario.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger notforyou said...

Pedro, the reason why we didn't is because we're greedy, and the NDP are lunatics for sacraficing everything we had done for progressing this country just so they could increase their seat count.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a simple reason: New Democrats in BC hate Liberals more than they hate the Tories. Moe Sihota, for example, insisted that it would be better to have a Harper government. The NDP spent all of their time trashing the Liberals, and did not demonize Harper because they were concerned that if Harper were demonized, people would vote Liberal instead of NDP out of fear.

The NDP will never, never, never agree to ally themselves with the Liberals. They are the main reason why we have a Harper government -- at least in the eyes of many Liberal activists. So there isn't much fertile ground within the Liberal Party either.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't you the guy who also said that David Emerson was right to cross the floor to the Conservatives?

If you are an example of what Liberals are thinking, the NDP would never want to ally themselves with you, because you could also go off and join Harper, like Emerson did.


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