Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Party Time?

Centre Bloq has posted some intriguing speculation about a movement afoot to create a new centrist political party in Alberta (picked up by the Herald today), composed primarily of Alberta Liberals and disenchanted PCs. C's reports largely mirror what I heard while I was back in Alberta over the holidays, although I get the sense that discussions about this are still very preliminary, and that all the different individuals and groups who see the need for a new alternative to the PCs have yet to really meld together. They're all talking about what needs to be done...but this sort of talk has been going on for a long time and it's debatable how formalized it has become, or if anything will come of it.

So what would this new party look like? Well, one imagines that its backbone would be current Alberta Liberals, although it's hard to say if this would be done via a rebirth or a killing of the ALP. The new party would certainly to sit in the middle of the political spectrum, and it would likely need to be led by someone not directly affiliated with the ALP.

Could it Succeed?

I think it could, so long as it's seen to be something "different" from the ALP - this can't just be a Reform begat Alliance scenario, it needs to look like a real coalition (although, I'd shy away from that word, for obvious reasons); that means prominent PCs would need to be a part of this movement.

But, to steal some prose from the great philosopher MC Hammer, PCs are unlikely "2 quit", unless the party looks "legit". Similarly, Liberals are pragmatic animals by nature, and would only abandon their brand if this new alternative is seen as having some chance of eventually forming government.

So it really comes down to whether or not there's enough momentum for the party to reach a critical mass of support out of the gate. To accomplish this, they'd need three things, many of them closely linked to each other:

1. Official Opposition Status: There are currently 9 Liberal MLAs in the Leg. Now, obviously all 9 Liberals joined by another 9 Tories would be the dream scenario, but even if you had 4 + 3, they'd get official opposition status and all the perks associated with it.

2. Credible Leadership: The movement would need to gather steam before an actual leader is selected but its electoral success would ride largely on the strength of its eventual leader. Dave Bronconnier - should he one day learn how to take a political risk - would be the best candidate out there, but a fresh face to the political scene could be the answer as well. Or, if you want a really wild idea, how about Joe Clark?

3. Media Credibility: This will depend on the success of the above two points, as well as from my initial premise that there need to be prominent Red Tories involved with this movement for it to have any hope of succeeding.

My Take

If nothing else, this should add some spice to the bland world of Alberta politics. While having yet another party splitting the vote on the left doesn't do anyone not named Ed any good, Alberta desperately needs a viable alternative to the PCs.

It's very much up in the air as to whether or not this new party could be that alternative, but there's something to be said for taking risks in a political climate where there is absolutely nothing to lose. It's highly unlikely the ALP will be forming government anytime soon, so this new entity might be the best hope out there of ending Alberta's 40 year run of one party rule.

In the interests of full-disclosure, I'm not at all involved with this group, and have a very low awareness of who or what their plans are. But I will certainly be following any developments with keen interest. Since, you know, there isn't a heck of a lot else to follow in the world of Alberta politics these days.



  • Joe Clark would lend it credibility?

    Wow. There went yours.

    By Blogger Candace, at 10:10 p.m.  

  • Welcome back Presto!
    Or perhaps Taft will pull a Dion and try to lead the new party! hahaha. I crack me up.

    By Blogger kenlister1, at 1:16 a.m.  

  • Is it April 1 already?

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:15 a.m.  

  • I think the Wildrose Alliance has a better chance of coming out of the wilderness as a bigger factor in Alberta Politics.. Disenchanted PC'ers are likely more on the right.
    I think that Dave Bronconnier has lost a big part of support of Calgarians in the last few months,, with his latest round of tax increases he has made Calgarians realize that he is a champion of spending,, and now that he is seen to be wringing it from the local guy, as opposed to some provincial or federal bucket, it is not playing well. And the bridge,, well nuff said

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:17 p.m.  

  • This makes a lot of sense to me.

    People want to toss the PCs out. They don't want to vote Liberal.
    Give them an alternative.
    Toss in a deficit and low oil prices.

    Add it all up, and I could see a party like this coming very close to forming government in three years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:06 p.m.  

  • I chuckle when I read comments like "People want to toss the PCs out. They don't want to vote Liberal. Give them an alternative." when combined with chatter about forming a new centrist party of Liberals and Red Tories.

    The Tories own the centre-right in Alberta. If you speak to some Tories (and Wildrosers, obviously) they are not conservative enough. And a bunch of Edmonton Tories, and a few Calgary ones, are about as "red" as you can be without belonging to another party.

    So if you are trying to create a new centrist party, aren't you replacing one with another of the same? The Stelmach Tories are not the same Klein Tories, just as the Klein Tories were not the same as the Lougheed/Getty Tories. [You can draw a similar analogy with the ALP, they were just less successful with the messaging for the elections.]

    One of the reasons the PC party has been in power for as long as it has, is that it is adaptible. Deficit and debt reduction was cool in the 90's (Decore was "Brutal Cuts" to Klein's "Massive Cuts"). Now people want more investment and spending, and they are getting that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:42 p.m.  

  • Just how would this new party be different from both the current Liberal and PC parties?

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 4:50 a.m.  

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