Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Green Party Leader - Prospects

The Green Party has elected a new leader. She is Elizabeth May, a long-time environmental advocate and activist. May is also their first leader with real political skills. She is an effective communicator and should have a stronger media presence then predecessor Jim Harris, who, how shall we put this delicately, was a little weak in this department.

The Greens appear to draw mainly from the NDP and the Liberals (and the Bloc in Quebec). However, they also draw support from a younger, none-of-the-above voter who I suspect is somewhat alienated and less interested in politics, and probably doesn’t know any details of the Green platform but likes the Green brand.

However, one should not expect any early electoral success for the Greens. I have done some simulations using my forecasting model. I calculate that the Greens would have to almost triple their vote to 13.4% (and nudge slightly ahead of the NDP) to win their first seat, a highly unlikely proposition. For simplification, I had the Greens draw equally from the Liberals and the NDP (adding in the BQ in Quebec).

They seem to be hurt more by the first past the post system than even the NDP. They achieved initial success in piling up votes in 2004 when they won 4.3% of the vote, but they only edged upward to 4.5% in 2006. Long-established Green parties in Europe have not done all that much better in vote share terms. The German Greens, who have sat in the German Parliament since 1993 courtesy of proportional representation received 8.1% of the party list votes in the 2005 German election.

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