Thursday, March 31, 2011

Missing the Point on the Coalition Anger

I think that many people are missing the issue that pushed so many people's buttons with respect to the idea of the coalition government back in the fall of 2008.   It is not so much that the Bloc was part of it, but that the party that lost the election would get to be government.

Harper is trying to paint the Liberals and NDP as looking for a coalition government to replace the Conservatives.    He wants to get to that anger people felt in late 2008 but it is not resonating.

If the Liberals were to win the most seats and then offered to have a coalition government with the NDP, I do not think that many people in Canada would mind.  I could even see the public being OK with a Liberal NDP coalition government if the two parties between them had a majority of the seats in parliament.

What will cause a backlash is if the Liberals were to try and form a coalition with the NDP to govern when they had a minority of the seats.   Even more so if their total was fewer seats and the Conservatives.

What the parties must also remember is that in Canada there is no tradition of coalition governments.   In most countries where there is no majority government the expectation is that a coalition will be formed - this recently happened in in the UK.   In Canada we have gone 54 years and had nine minority parliaments out of 18.  Not once was there a coalition.    Even in 1979 when the Conservatives could have had a majority if they offered to take in Fabien Roy and his five fellow Creditiste MPs.  Roy had lost party status and could see the doom of his party, but there was no coalition deal.

Not having coalitions is one of the political traditions of Canada, going there may work but doing so when it looks like you lost the election is a huge political mistake as Dion discovered in 2008.
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