Election post mortem: no winners one loser

No amount of spin can change the fact that the once mighty liberal party of Canada continued its post Chrétien slide into mediocrity.  In the middle of a sponsorship scandal under Martin’s leadership the liberals managed to get 103 seats representing a loss of 24 % of their seats.  Under Dion’s leadership the Liberals managed to get 76 seats representing a further loss 26% of their seats.

The liberals are broke and what last nights election shows more than anything else is that the liberals can not get their vote out where it matters.  Canada’s electoral system rewards geographic concentration and strong organization on the ground.  Dion should go because whatever his virtues he does not inspire the liberal base nor, as is now clear, provide a poll of attraction from outside the liberal base.  There are only two ways forward for the liberals at this point.

1) Drop Dion for a more charismatic leader like Ignatieff and start the process of reinventing the liberal party from the grass roots up.  Much like the NDP did with Layton

2) Start merger talks with the NDP and form a new party: the Progressive Party of Canada.

I suspect the first option is the most likely.  The problem for the liberals is that they are broke and a leadership contest is costly.  But this should not be an issue.  It would not kill the liberals to have a modest leadership convention and then focus their attention on rebuilding the party at the constituency level over the next four years.

The upside to the election is that the conservatives are going to have govern through a moderate to severe recession and their fiscal room for maneuver is highly constrained.  It is going to be hard to be Harper.  Having just announced 225 billion in an effective subsidy to the big banks to help them compete for global business it is going to be hard to say to other sectors.  Here the Conservatives are going to find themselves damned if they do and damned if they do not. Having run on the idea that government steers the economy the Conservatives are likely to get foisted on their own petard.

This is long way around of saying that the liberals have time to sort out their own house as it is highly unlikely the conservatives are going to get anyomore popular.

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8 thoughts on “Election post mortem: no winners one loser

  1. “Start merger talks with the NDP and form a new party: the Progressive Party of Canada”

    Ouch! The NDP’s gone rightwards enough; now you want to foist the Liberals on them?

  2. Your observation is exactly why I could even imagine it. I did not say it was my preference. I was just looking at from their POV. If I had my druthers we would start a pan Canadian Progressive party from the bottom up with a real deal nationalists in Quebec could live with and kiss both the the NDP and Liberals good bye. But then that was not the subject of my post.

  3. I think what offended my sensibilities was calling that amalgam the “Progressive Party”. Maybe “Left Alliance”.

    In any event, I don’t see the NDP getting eager to cast off their last shell of social democracy to embrace liberalism in toto.

    But how much of the Liberal loss can be attributed to electoral fears of “changing horses in mid-torrent”?

  4. Left alliance: Alliance: Alliance party. Now my sensibilities are offended. But here is no sense arguing over the name for a party that will not exist.

    I am going to ask question though: What specifically do you think still gives the NDP the claim to being social democratic? It is a serious question. To my mind they are a reform liberal party with a social democratic rump and the liberal party is a reform liberal party with a liberal rump. There in lies the difficulty of any merger: one of the rumps would have to go. If it were the liberal rump they would be free to join the conservatives. If it were the social democratic rump they would have to form a new party or hijack the greens.

  5. That’s why I said, “cast off their last shell of social democracy”: I think they’re pretty much left liberals in everything but name.

    As for the Liberals, I see them the opposite to you: a liberal party with a reform-liberal rump. Sort of like the DLC Dems from the States.

    I think a merger would invariably mean losing the NDP’s soc-dem rump, continuing (and I guess completing) their rightward shift. Mustn’t embarrass the money-people . . . .

    Doug Henwood, actually, gave a succinct description of the Dems that I think goes for the Liberals, too: a right-wing party that sometimes has to act left.

    And I see my little barb caught you: thinking about a certain other Alliance? I was.

  6. You are probably right about the libs the left nationalists were run out of that party long ago. The question is where did they go?

  7. Don’t know for sure. Some surely went to the NDP, but I do think there are some still there from a (very) brief conversation I had with a (leftish) Lib supporter.

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