Just don't call it a merger, if it makes you feel better let's say "arrangement" or "limited" co-operation, or "joint nominations", but NOT that M word. Nathan Cullen's idea is garnering some attention, and it is an interesting proposal. However, the concept reeks of trying to have your cake and eat it too, advocating what amounts to local mergers without actually endorsing the concept, leaving the wider party affiliations in place, although invariably bastardized by the process.
Let's move from the theoretical proposal to the practical realities and co-operation becomes something more that does threaten the tribal mentality, a first crack which logically favours a wider reality. A riding unilaterally decideds to hold a joint nomination, with the main thrust being a progressive alternative to the Conservatives, one that can win, one that doesn't split the vote, one that puts all oars in the water for a common cause. The three parties come together in a riding and have a nomination, very much like a "primary" as the link points out. Really, no different than a nomination for an individual party, different folks run, different "camps" work to elect their person, in the end all three competitors take the stage and acknowledge the one person who will hold the "anti-Con" banner.
The joint nomination has found their candidate, now it's time to take on the true enemy and win the riding. Let's say the NDP candidate wins the riding for instance. Do the Liberal and Green workers, their riding association members, their volunteers now go home and leave the NDP alone to fight for the win? OR, do these other party members work with the NDP team to win the election? Given we have a meeting of the minds to hold joint nominations, a bit counter productive to believe the nomination is the end of the relationship. NO, if people are coming together to beat Harper, people are coming together to beat Harper, so expect more of that working together post nomination, Libs, Dippers, Greens out on joint canvasses, out on joint sign banging, out on joint GOTV. In other words, semantics and taboos aside, you really have a quasi new party of people with common purpose. The very process itself acknowledges an overriding commonality that USURPS individual tribal wants, so for the love of god just call it a merger, because the guts of the idea are just that.
Fast forward to post-election, and our joint candidate head to Ottawa. The candidate is a Dipper, sits in the Commons as such, yet is really a creation of a different arrangement, one that exists beyond what the superficial flag suggests. At this point, after a joint nomination, a joint resolve to elect an individual, joint VOTES, the ultimate expression, we just go back to the old divisions and said MP carries on as in the past. Really? After all this co-operation and SUCCESS, people just pull back and there is no evolution? I don't buy it for a second, the Cullen template if fruit bearing is really the first step towards a total and complete merger. All parties have divergent interests within, but there is a wider affinity, whereing compromise is made for the greater purpose. Cullen's proposal is a timid recognition of a a wider concept, it gently blurs the lines in more palatable fashion for partisans, but the result is something more in my view.
it may more accurately be a movement towards a voter merger than a party merger, although you're right about confusions over how things would work in parliament.
I still say fair share cabinet based on prop rep is the best answer, only takes a PM willing to create a cooperative all party cabinet/government, the house as loyal opposition.
"it may more accurately be a movement towards a voter merger than a party merger"
Another point, for the nominee to win, he/she would probably have to appeal to other "party" delegates, so in essence it would be a compromise candidate anyways, another overlap concept which just tells me you might as well go all the way instead of an almost saving "face" mentality.
Good post on the practical impacts of Cullen's proposal, but I'll note a couple of other possibilities.
For one, particularly in urban areas with different parties' candidates in play I'm not sure that I'd expect the default outcome to be all of the volunteers within a riding coalescing behind one candidate. Instead, I'd guess that most of each party's volunteers will work on that party's campaigns in neighbouring ridings - which might well make for a better prospect of victory immediately, but wouldn't necessarily lead to a lot of cross-interaction.
Second, the mechanics of the nomination itself would require some serious finessing. Party nomination votes include some candidate entitlement to use a membership list to contact current members - but would the parties be willing to share those lists with competing nomination candidates? If not, then I'd think the almost total focus would be on motivating one's own partisans rather than trying to appeal to some inaccessible group of other-party members - which might well cause more rancor between the opposition parties than cooperation.
I would assume consideration of no first ballot win, so this necessitates some sort of appeal beyond partisan lines, if you want to be the standard bearer.
Cullen only proposes this in riding's that are held by Conservatives.
What about riding's held by Liberals and NDP that Conservatives almost took.
They can still win those in the next election.
Some interesting points on the whole idea.
F&W - why not put your mind to working out details of alternative ways in which the Cullen Plan could be implemented?
If we really want to fire Harper as PM, we need to seriously explore all ways of doing this.
Perhaps a dialogue on how the Cullen Plan could actually work might provide us all with pros and cons of this idea...
Of course the great irony is that in Cullen's own home province of BC - ALL the federal Liberal hacks have formed a "united the right" alliance with ALL the federal Tory hacks and named it the BC Liberal party - all to make sure that there is NEVER a progressive government in BC and that this reincarnation of Social Credit stays in power. I will start to believe in these schemes to draw the NDP and Liberals together the day i see ALL federal Liberal hacks in BC announce that they prefer the BC NDP to Social Credit/BC Liberal.
If there is one thing you're an expert on ole DL, it's hackery. Part of the problem, never a solution, unless it's self serving.
OK, then let me ask politely. If we are supposed to consider the Liberals to be a "progressive" party that would hypothetically want to form some sort of an alliance with the NDP - WHY is it that in BC all the Liberals keep on doing the exact opposite and instead want to keep Social Credit (aka the BC Liberal Party) in and the NDP out? I'd like an explanation.
BC doesn't fall into your neat partisan lines, so I don't even see the merit in any debate. Also, I'm so TIRED of this orange allegiance in every province, like the NDP is some monolith across country, it isn't.
I think Cullen is simply advocating a case by case merger, so if that's the route, then you might as well just extrapolate to the entire country. I predict, if Cullen's idea is implemented, it will lead to eventual total merger, because it so blurs the current tribal mentality at some point it's rendered useless. Compromise candidates are essentially the after effect of a merger, former slants are necessarily altered.
Although that being said, in countries like France and Italy that have FPTP systems (or versions thereof) - the Socialist, Communist, Green and various other left of centre parties routinely divvy up seats to some extent and yet they all still retain their separate identities.
I believe that Nathan Cullen is showing a refreshing sense of realism in his proposal. Instead of standing on the sidelines debating things and wringing his hands, Cullen has taken a hard look at the political contours and asked one simple question: How can we tolerate a situation where a party with around a third of the vote forms the government and systematically implements a neo-conservative program, which fully 60% of voters rejected at the polls in at least 3 elections?
And he has zeroed in on one simple, incontrovertible fact: Any government that replaces the Harper neocon government, will be an improvement.
And any steps that need to be taken to achieve this end, will help give the millions of voters who voted for non-Tory parties a chance to have a different set of values applied. The George Lakoff summary of the two moral systems at work in the USA fits us as well: so why not be courageous and make it happen?
The Liberals and the SDP had an alliance for a number of years in the UK before they formally merged. They ran candidates, on or the other, in constituencies in the UK. Eventually of course this led to a formal merger. I expect if this plan gains any traction, this will happen.
Sounds all KUMBYA but it ain't going to work. The Dipper here cost a my ON LIB the seat, 2 weeks ago - & this NDP personn is an Arsehole. I will (never say never) NEVER work for a Dipper or a Tory. Remember this, so called Liberals Eff'd Sheila Copps out of her riding,(they & St. Lie'n Jack) are largely responsible for the present PM - do you think for 15 seconds this dynamic won't be in play in Cullen's daydream?
Focus people, focus!
You can read up on the Liberal SDP alliance here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal-SDP_Alliance
I responded here: http://democraticprogress.blogspot.com/2011/10/cullens-primaries.html
Having now looked at the comments, I think Greg raises two really good points, to which I would say "I don't care if the volunteers go to another riding", and "I don't think the lists would be shared", but that I suspect a party that won a primary would very quickly change their plans and start building a list of where others' supporters are.
I think on a case-by-case basis it might make sense for associations entering into an agreement to hold a primary to agree to at least share the information of all those who vote in the primary, which would be an advantage in and of itself.
I think the concerns of rancor Greg raises aren't hugely likely; without a candidate running for them, I don't think the other party's voters (as opposed to activists) would be all that opposed to hearing out the opponent.
I'll check it out Jesse.
The big difference between the Liberal SDP alliance in the UK in the 80s vs today in Canada is that the SDP and the Liberals were third and fourth parties, whereas the Liberals and the NDP are second and third parties. Another key difference is that it was, to a point, ideologically driven. The SDP was formed by Labour MPs that left Labour when it took a hard left turn. The current Canadian situation involves more being against the Cons, than being ideologically driven. Now, I am not much on ideology , but I think this may be an important point. I am not denying that there are similarities between us (I am a Liberal who has voted NDP before...) and the NDP, but there are differences as well. As an aside, I was offered a job in the UK in 1996, and I figured had I moved and become a citizen I would have ended up voting LD.
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