Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Could Have Been Elections: The Liberal-Democrats

In response to my previous "what if" post on running elxn41 under a preferential ballot, a few blog readers wondered how the election would have turned out had there been a Liberal-NDP merger.

The challenge with that kind of analysis is that we have no real way of knowing what 1 + 1 equals. Even merger proponents are not so naive as to assume every current Liberal and every current New Democrat would vote for a new Lib-Dem Party. The tricky part is figuring out how many would stay home or jump to other parties.

I've run these kinds of exercises before, but it doesn't hurt to update it given the new realities of the day. After all, even though a merger seems unlikely, it will be talked about at various times over the next four years - pretty much whenever columnists or bloggers are looking for something to write about during the otherwise dull life of a majority government.

I decided to go into this exercise using a "best case" scenario for the Lib-Dems. That is, I assume that every Liberal with the Conservatives as their second choice (17%) would vote Conservative and every NDP member with the Greens as their second choice (21%) would vote Green. But everyone else would vote for the new party. This would give the Lib-Dems a retention rate of over 80% - higher than the hold rate of the merged Conservative Party in 2004, despite the CPC being given the gift of Adscam (they held just 78.5% of the combined 2000 PC + CA vote).

Under this scenario, the end result is largely the same as now - a 160-seat Conservative majority and a 144-seat Liberal Democrat opposition.

Of course, this was the best case scenario. If the Liberals lose a quarter of their voters to the right and the NDP lose a quarter of their voters to the left, then Harper leads the Lib-Dems 178 to 125 seats in this restrospective hypothetical.

Perhaps a merger would make sense in the long term. But anyone who assumes it would be a quick-fix for booting the Conservatives just simply isn't looking at the numbers.



  • Agreed. Also agree that this kind of rational analysis won't stop the speculation one iota.

    By Blogger The Pundits' Guide, at 11:25 a.m.  

  • Keep in mind that in a preferential voting system - someone could vote NDP 1st, then make the Greens their 2nd choice and then the Liberals their 3rd choice and then if the final count was Liberal vs. Tory - it wouldn't make any difference if the person ranked the Green second and the Liberal third - as long as the Tory was dead last!

    We actually do have some real life examples in Canada provinces with two-party systems where the "left" and "right" are "united" - I draw your attention to BC and Saskatchewan - of course in each case the rightwing party (ie: BC Liberals or Sask. party is currently in power). It is also notable that in each case when push came to shove - all those supposedly progressive people who are federal Liberals decided to form an alliance with federal Tories to keep the NDP out rather than forming an alliance with the NDP to keep the rightwing forces at bay - so go figure.

    By Blogger DL, at 12:50 p.m.  

  • DL - Preferential ballot is a different game from a merger. In my post on the topic, the results came out with a CPC minority...about 140-145 seats I believe, opening the door for a coalition.

    That system is far preferable than a full blown merger to those on the left.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • The electoral advantage - and the REASON for such a political alignment - is that the parties will learn to moderate their policies so as to find a balance point nearing half the population.

    Which is to say that neither Party would allow the other to stake out so much "political real estate" as to win overwhelming majorities - at least, not very often.

    And because the winning Party would not be looking for "compromise" after the election, voters would actually be able to hold their elected representatives to account - we would finally get to live in a Democracy again! (As it is now, party platforms are often meaningless as they get thrown out after the election in order to win the support of other Parties).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:05 p.m.  

  • Your analysis appears to miss two things:

    1. Liberals who would vote Green and New Democrats who would vote Conservative.

    2. Liberals and New Democrats who would stay home.

    By Blogger Malcolm+, at 4:59 p.m.  

  • We can't take the results of voting in BC too seriously. Elections BC have been caught in corruption before. Elections BC has two different laws, one for the corrupt BC Liberals and the other, for the opposing party's.

    Craig James is a very good friend of Campbell's. The two honest members of Elections BC were shoved out, and Campbell put Craig James in their place, to do Campbell's dirty work for him. And indeed, the work was extremely dirty.

    Campbell wasn't even a Liberal, he works for Harper, the other snake in the grass. Campbell twice lied to be, re-elected for two different elections. The BCR wasn't for sale. And, the HST wasn't on Campbell, Hansen nor Harper's radar. Too bad Hansen had to admit, the HST radar papers were on Hansen's desk, long before the BC election. Not that it would matter, they didn't even have to resign. An opposing Premier would have been forced to resign.

    It doesn't even matter about the HST referendum in BC. Three quarters of the BC citizens, do not want the HST. However, we fully expect Elections BC to cheat.
    Or, they will levy more asinine taxes on us anyway.

    It is well known, BC is the most corrupt province in Canada. Thanks to ex premier Campbell. The BC Liberals are, the worst, corrupt politicians, also ever in the history of Canada. Gordon Campbell has the record, of the most despised premier ever known.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:41 p.m.  

  • As you have identified, the problem with the merger idea is that lots of Liberals end up voting Conservative, and lots of NDPers stay home or park their vote elsewhere.

    Aside from being arrogant and entitled, the idea that the Conservatives won because of 'vote splits' is just plain wrong. When the Liberal vote split, tonnes of it when Conservative.

    It happened all over Canada, but no where better than in Oshawa - with the Liberal vote pretty much nil, the NDP ended up getting creamed.

    Part of that was their candidate ("send a working-class hero to Ottawa!"), but part of that i the fact that when the Liberal vote collapses, lots of it (if not most of it) splits Conservative.

    By Anonymous Marc from soccer, at 2:14 p.m.  

  • Really effective information, much thanks for the article.

    By Anonymous vibradores, at 3:50 p.m.  

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