Sunday, February 22, 2009

Things to come - a new coalition?

It is not evident in polling now - there has yet to be a sharp or marked departure from trends of the past few years. Canadians seem to be in a wait and see mode, but they are deeply worried about the direction of the economy. Inevitably and eventually the public will turn in a clear way against the Harper government. They just haven't done so yet.

Even now the last two Nanos polls suggest a Liberal minority, which could command a bare majority in the House with the support of the NDP were an election on offer. When I average the last two polls and perform a seat calculation this is what I get:

C.P.C. Liberal NDP Green Bloc
109 128 29 0 42

The Liberals plus NDP would have 157 seats (a clear majority is 155). The NDP has not been in this potential position of leverage since 1979 (and all it led to was a Bob Rae motion of non-confidence that ended the Joe Clark government). After a disastrous decade in the nineties, the NDP has recovered much lost ground since Jack Layton became leader in 2003, but they have not won enough seats to make them the obvious governing partner for the Liberals. Paul Martin & Layton did a "budget" deal in spring 2005 but that reflected Martin's desperation, and it took the vote of Chuck Cadman and the defection of Linda Stronach to save the government then. The prospects for something quite different are now becoming visible as we see in the numbers above. There is a tendency to believe the future will be like the past - that the NDP plus Liberals in Ottawa somehow can't construct a majority. The radical changes in the economy these past few months should tell everyone that the recent past is certainly no guide to the future.

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