Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Federal By-elections November 29th - The Greens and Harper inching to a majority

With everything going on in BC, I have had virtually no time to consider what is going on with the three federal elections currently underway.   For the total politically geeky out there, your best source of information is from the Pundit's Guide by-election page.   I can not compete with that information so I will just add some comments from my view.

The Greens
The Greens do not look like they are putting any effort into these campaigns.   I think this utterly crazy.   They should be spending every penny they can and have Elizabeth May on the campaign trail 24/7.   The Greens need to have the media take them seriously as a major party, to do that they need to put all the energy they can into any by-election.

If the Greens could get 20% of the vote in all three of the seats, this would be a huge signal to everyone that the Greens are serious and can get votes.   I would be an easy task for the Greens to come second in Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette if they put the effort in.  The party could spend the full amount allowed, about $100,000, and make an impression.

In Vaughn the Greens should be pushing hard to get well over 10% and to place ahead of the NDP.   They should also be looking at placing ahead of at the Conservatives in Winnipeg North.

The party has money now through the taxpayer political party subsidy, spending $300,000 on these by-elections would be the cheapest advertising the party could get.    If the Greens managed to place third or better in all three ridings, they would gain coverage and credibility.

The fact the federal Greens are not doing this is an indication of how weak and disorganized the party is.

Vaughn and inching to a majority
This is the only seat that is in play in these by-elections, it may not be a big change if the Conservatives win, but it places them closer to a majority.

The House right now
  • Conservatives 141
  • Liberals - 75
  • Bloc - 47
  • NDP - 36
  • Ind and Speaker - 3
The government is ten seats short of a majority, eight if the two independents vote with the government

If the Conservatives win in Vaughn and the current two and the other three coming by-elections do nto change hands:
  • Conservatives - 145
  • Liberals - 75
  • Bloc - 48
  • NDP - 37
  • Ind and Speaker - 3
The government is now only nine seats short of a majority, seven with the two independents.  It is still too far to govern as a majority, but it is getting closer.

While it is unlikely, there is a slim chance the Conservatives could win Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, it is within the region where the Conservatives have some seats and seem to be retaining their support in the polls.   The Bloc is not dominant in the riding and could be defeated by one strong federalist candidate.

If the Conservatives can win both Vaughn and Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, I suspect this will forestall any federal election as Harper may be able to get to a majority through resignations and by-elections.  If he losses either one I would expect to see spring federal election, right after the budget.

The Senate
The standings in the Senate are 52 Conservatives and 52 everyone else - I am not counting Raymond Lavinge until he is back in the red chamber.  There are two more retirements coming, one on November 29th when Peter Stollery hits 75 and then December 6th when Jean Lapointe reaches the same age.   Before Christmas the Senate could 54 Conservatives to 50 others.   With this Harper has a working majority in the Senate.

While the Senate is fundamentally undemocratic and without any popular mandate, having a majority there makes life easier for a government.
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