Saturday, December 09, 2006

Spring Election Off?

Conventional wisdom has assumed that we are heading for an election after the spring budget. The Liberals, particularly Dion, have mentioned an election as a near certainty. However, these latest batch of polls might pour water on the idea of a quick election.

Pouring through the numbers from the various polling, the only parties that might welcome an election sooner rather than later are the Liberals and the Greens. The Greens have no say, so the Liberals desire is pretty much irrelevant unless they get some help. The latest numbers are mostly devastating for Layton, and given his history of poll watching, I doubt he will be eager to go the electorate when offical party status may be on the line. How can Harper now orchestrate his own demise when he is looking at a Liberal Party that looks poised to wipe out his recent gains? A week ago, Duceppe might have appeared eager, but these surprising Quebec numbers will surely give the Bloc pause.

There are some dangers in these poll numbers. What will Layton do with the Clean Air Act? Will he accept a partial sellout now to argue relevance in the next election? There is no getting around the fact that the NDP is getting squeezed from all quarters and their support is on the wane. If Layton gets trounced in the next election his leadership is effectively over. Layton cornered is an unpredictable animal and I don't think we can assume his decisions will be based on the purity he claims. Layton may well look for a token concession in the budget to delay a non-confidence motion.

The real wildcard is Duceppe, but if you posed the question today, I would suspect the Bloc willing to hold off in the near term. The surprising mini-honeymoon of Dion in Quebec is clearly not encouraging and should make the Bloc cautious on bringing down the government.

Harper surely must be in a tizzy. Every policy voter driven, all the bullying about election calls, and he is now faced with the prospects of the impossible- a Liberal majority. I don't see a realistic scenario where Harper forces a losing confrontation with the Liberals ahead in the polls. The only caveat, the budget is really the only day on the calendar that Harper can control and manipulate, so it may still be his best opportunity to turn around the government fortunes.

A couple of weeks ago I was certain of a spring election, now not so much. The good news for the Liberals, they are now free of their restrictions and can act boldly in Parliament, letting others prop up the Conservatives if they wish.

12 comments:

knb said...

I would agree that this is tough to call.

Jack's in trouble, no two ways about it. Between the Lib's and the Green's, he has lost an awful lot in recent polls, 10% has got to hurt. That said, just watch for the attacks. The problem is, he and his MP's are painting themselves into the same box that the conservative's have. They tell half truths during their attack and they deliver them with venom.

I think people are beginning to see through it and if not, they are seeing an energized Liberal party that prefers to speak to fact, not rhetoric. All the buffoonery from people like Baird for instance, in the end just makes him look mean, spiteful and therefore unappealing.

As to Harper, the one wild card for me is his ego. This article I found a bit disturbing.

Ed King said...

btw, Duceppe has said that he will vote against the next budget unless it fixes the so-called fiscal imbalance to the tune of $3.9 billion per year for Quebec.

knb said...

I also meant to say, that I hope Dion can keep up some sort of media presence. He does well, even when the interviewer try's to bait him. If he does get attention, Harper too will fight for more and he will continue to provide the contrast Canadians need.

ed king, it will be interesting to see how Duceppe act's now.

Steve V said...

knb

"just watch for the attacks."

No doubt. I do wonder how effective Layton can be, when you contrast his approach with May. If May keeps taking the high ground, it makes Layton look even more partisan and less attractive.

ed

Let's hope the Liberals have that link :)

Steve V said...

knb

This is a generalization of course, but I think the media actually likes Dion. Sure they will turn, but it might not happen this election.

knb said...

I hope you're right...no, let's know you're right, hold the good thought.

May really has been a class act through this. That she supports Dion, is terrific.

Oh dear, Jumping Jack must really be going crazy. Steve H., I'm sure he is out for blood.

Steve V said...

knb

The funny part, just last spring Layton was musing about replacing the Liberals.

Dana said...

Layton's a become a nutjob federally. He's a graphic representation of the Peter principle. All his civic experience has allowed everyone to over estimate his preparedness for the federal level.

knb said...

True enough Steve...we'll wait and see.

dana, you're right IMO.

Scotian said...

I've maintained for over a year now that the kind of political gamesmanship Layton was playing would end up hurting the NDP, and sure enough that appears these days to be exactly the result. The great strength of the core NDP vote over the decades was that it was principled first lusting for seats second, a formula Layton reversed and did so without any apparent consultation with the Party membership as I have also noted in the past. With May demonstrating what principled opposition looks like on one side and Dion with his reputation on integrity, placing Canada first and his environmental dedication on the other Layton has placed himself and his party in what could well be a fatal position at worst and at best significantly weakens the NDP for several years.

As I have mentioned before Layton made it impossible for me to vote NDP last time out despite my MP being NDP AND being someone I have known personally since my teen years and have a great deal of personal and professional respect for. I have to wonder how many other swing voters felt the same, and now I am curious as to how many of the dedicated NDP vote rooted in placing principles first are also feeling like this is not the NDP they had always known.

As to whether we have a spring election, who knows. This is a very unstable minority government that was only able to do what it did this year because of an Official Opposition party leaderless, a BQ that was until fairly recently worrying about CPC making inroads on their vote turf, and an NDP that saw itself positioned to replace the Liberals if they were willing to swallow their principles and work with the CPC to combine attacks on the Liberals and draw their voters to the NDP. This would work to give the NDP more seats but would also almost certain set the stage for a CPC majority via vote splitting and a win from up the middle wins from that vote splitting as happened to the right in the 90s in this country.

Instead though I think this tactic is being seen through by many voters, and in particular many NDP voters who are wondering why Layton doesn't make the biggest threat to the fundamental NDP principles his focus let alone being this much in bed with them. That it is taking way too big a chance for increasing seat counts to risk a CPC Harper majority government even if it places the NDP as the next choice for government instead of the Liberals by the time the CPC government is gone. It will almost certainly have significantly altered federal powers available that the NDP would no longer by able to do a significant amount of what it would like to if it were the government, especially regarding national social welfare and justice programs.

I do think 2007 is an election year; the only question to my mind is exactly when.

Steve V said...

scotian

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Good points all around.

CuriosityCat said...

To avoid a spring election, Harper has to pay the Bloc their ransom demand of $3.6 billion in equalization payments.

Wait for it. He will rob Peter to pay Paul in order to survive for another year in power, waiting for the polls to break his way before calling another election.