Friday, January 27, 2006

More thoughts on the Canadian election

More thoughts on the Canadian election:

  1. Only 41 per cent of the people who voted Conservative did so because they wanted a Conservative government. Most people just wanted to send a message to the Liberals. Since the Conservatives got 36.25 per cent of the popular vote, that means that all of 14.8625 per cent of voters wanted a government with Conservative policies. That has to be the world-record low amount of support for a political group that claims to have a 'mandate' to impose its policies on the whole country.

  2. The proportional representation assholes are trying to spin this election as a great defeat for democracy, but it actually shows what a potent and fine electoral weapon the 'old-fashioned' first-past-the-post system can be. The Conservatives got 36 per cent of the popular vote and 40 per cent of the seats. The Liberals got 30 per cent of the popular vote and 33 per cent of the seats. The Bloc got 10 per cent of the popular vote and 16.5 per cent of the seats. The NDP got 17.5 per cent of the popular vote and 5.5 per cent of the seats. The results are amazingly fair. The Bloc did proportionately well as they only run in Quebec and have no pretense of forming a national party. They give up real power to be a sort of lobby group (and were punished for it in the election by people who voted Conservative as they correctly felt a Bloc vote was a wasted vote). The NDP always do proportionately poorly as they run a national campaign with policies that are still too left to be mainstream. The irony is that the NDP under Layton has moved dramatically to the center in order to gain seats, a policy that worked at the expense of selling their soul (they run the risk of finding themselves to the right of the Liberals in many areas), and now have greatly increased seats and greatly diminished power. They used to hold the balance of power and successfully pushed the Liberals around to more left-wing policies; now they have absolutely no power. It's nuances like these that the vote reform people completely misunderstand (and it's imposible to argue with them because they have so many alternatives you can never pin them down). They also completely misunderstand the dynamics of the party system, particularly the dynamics of a party system based primarily on class interests (first-past-the-post forces political compromise and punishes political radicalism). The lefties want to replace first-past-the-post to increase the political power of the radical left; right-wingers want to destroy first-past-the-post to increase corporate dominance over people's lives. The result of the tinkering will be less control in the hands of normal people, and more power in the hands of various radical groups and corporations.

  3. You can see how powerful the system actually is when you consider how the results turned out. The electorate wanted to teach the Liberals a lesson but didn't want any real Conservative power. So they kicked out the Liberals while maintaining most of their political base, and gave the Conservatives the slimmest possible minority, facing three parties who are mostly opposed to their policies. They refused to vote for the worst of the Liberals, people like Anne McLellan, Tony Valeri, Pierre Pettigrew, Ms. Digital Rights Management Sam Bulte and slimy lobbyist Richard Mahoney. In other words they sent an amazingly finely-tuned message against right-wingers, Canadian neo-colonialism in Haiti, and the culture of corporate lobbying entitlement that followed Paul Martin around. Canadians have been voting for a long time, and can play their electoral system like a violin. If this election had been held in Europe, the group of back-room weasels who controlled 51 per cent of power would become the group of back-room weasels who control 49 per cent of power, and no message would ever be sent. The fact that your party can be wiped off the map completely in an election, and that you could lose your own seat forever, concentrates the mind wonderfully.

  4. The Green Party lost votes in this election. The Canadian Green Party is a group of e-x-t-r-e-m-e right-wingers - too right-wing even for the Conservatives - who mounted a hostile take-over of the old real Green Party. People are no longer being fooled.

  5. There are three large cities in Canada, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. As Canada is one of the most urbanized countries in the world - it surprises people to find that Canadians don't all live in igloos in the arctic - these cities have a disproportionate influence over the country, and a lot of political power. How many seats do you think the Conservatives won in these three cities? Zero. I called the Conservatives the Republican Party North, but they might just as well be called the Hillbilly Party of Canada. You can see where their votes come from if you walk through any small Canadian town. Half the population looks like they are members of a biker gang (and probably are), and the other half looks like they were kicked out of the biker gang for being insufficiently well groomed. This is the 'base' of the Conservative Party. Canadians can no longer feel moral and intellectual superiority over Americans voting for Republicans.

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