Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tough Times

It’s becoming more and more likely that we’ll find ourselves in a recession (be it “technical” or otherwise), and a recession is never a good time to be in power. Tory Times Are Tough Times has claimed a slew of Conservative Prime Ministers over the years, and Premiers of all political stripes have also become recession-victims. So what are the re-election odds of the 11 current men and women who lead governments in Canada.

I think the best reference point to look at would be the most recent “real” recession - the one of the early 90s. So let’s take 1990 as the starting point and look at the 11 provincial (and federal!) elections that happened after that point, to see how the incumbents did.

Re-Elected: 5 (PEI, NF, NB, MN, AB)
Defeated: 6 (CAN, NS, PQ, ON, BC, SK)

So a little over half went down in defeat. Of course, Klein's bitter 1993 victory may be a "technical" win but, by Alberta standards, it's really a loss for the incumbents. Of course, there were obviously other factors in play...I have doubts the BC Socreds, federal PCs, or Quebec Grits could have hung on, even in the best of economic situations.

Comparatively, if we take 1995 as our base line, 8 of 11 governments survived, if we look at 2000, 7 of 11 survived, and if we look at 2005, 6 of 10 survived (BC pending...).

So, what’s the moral? I dunno. Politics is a complicated game. And we don’t even know how bad this recession will be. All we can really say is that governing through tough times is a political challenge, but that it’s not necessarily fatal.


  • I'd agree with your conclusion here.

    I don't think Harper has much to worry about - jimtan and james curran-type partisans aside, most people are cool-headed enough to recognize that no Canadian Prime Minister was involved in the US sub-prime mortgage/banking meltdown/GM-Chrysler-Ford/etc crisis. Any Prime Minister would find this a tough dilemma.

    Personally, I think Harper has more to fear from Bob Rae or Dominic LeBlanc than the recession.

    Provincial governments -- I don't know enough about them individually to say much...

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 12:29 AM  

  • I have to call you on something, Dan... the abbreviation for Manitoba is MB. MN is for Minnesota. Us Manisnowbans get testy with that mistake!

    On an unrelated note, my captcha word was "torie."

    By Blogger DG, at 7:52 AM  

  • DG - You're right...I must still have US politics on my mind.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:05 AM  

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