Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

October 03, 2015

The NDP alone can’t stop Harper and most progressives couldn’t care less: Matt Fodor, Oct 03 15

As the NDP has sunk in the polls, its partisans have increasingly clung to the narrative that since the Liberals can’t win a majority, therefore only the NDP can replace Harper.

It is certainly true that the Liberal vote is less efficient than the NDP vote (i.e. more widely spread out, rather than concentrated in specific ridings) and thus in a scenario where the popular vote is more or less equal, the NDP will almost certainly end up with more seats.  That was the case in Ontario in the 2011 federal election, where the NDP edged out the Liberals in the popular vote (26%-25%) but won twice as many seats (22 vs. 11, respectively).

Hence Alice Funke is correct to say that Liberals have no route to majority based on Atlantic Canada (our Celtic fringe!), anglo and allo Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, the 905 and upscale Vancouver and can only really be competitive in about 120 seats (out of 338).  Indeed, the last time the Liberals was able to win majority governments was during the Chretien years, where the party had the perfect storm situation of an NDP that looked to be on its deathbed and a divided right that allowed them to nearly sweep the province.

In contrast, Funke says that if things go as well as possible for the NDP they can win about 190 or so seats.

However an NDP majority is almost certainly out of reach (they’re now either in third or neck and neck with the Liberals in second), and promoting the idea that since the Liberals can’t win a majority the NDP represents *the* alternative to Harper in all ridings is patent nonsense.

The idea that the NDP can somehow win a majority by holding Quebec and all their traditional strongholds, while picking up swaths of seats in southwestern Ontario (Andrea Horwath’s fool’s gold), dominating in the Prairie cities of Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton and most of the province of BC strikes me as absurd.  I don’t see a route to majority without displacing the Liberals in their GTA stronghold.  In Ontario, according to several polls (i.e. Ekos, Forum) it looks like the party will be lucky to hold on to what they have.  They could also lose several seats in Quebec (if the Bloc resurges on the niqab wedge issue) and gains in the West may be more modest than hoped.

As a general rule, the race has broken down along regional lines: the NDP are the main alternative to the Conservatives in Western Canada and the Liberals are the main alternative in Ontario (particularly the GTA and Ottawa region, which together make up about 60% of the population of its population).  There are of course plenty of exceptions: for instance, the NDP is better positioned to defeat Conservative incumbents in the Ontario ridings of Oshawa and Essex, while the Liberals are better positioned in south Winnipeg and could win a seat or two in Calgary.   But that is the general picture.

Nor for the large group of non-aligned “progressive” voters does it matter all that much which party is larger or whether it’s a majority or minority government, as Harper is no longer the Prime Minister.   And they are right to believe that the differences between the NDP and Liberals are minor compared to the differences between either party and Harper’s Conservatives.

Posted on October 3, 2015

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