Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why we are likely to see a minority government after the 2015 federal election

Since 1921 when Canada first had a significant third parties win seats in elections we have seen 46% of the elections bring us minorities.   A minority election result is something we should consider as probable in Canadian elections

15 Majority Elections
1930, 1935, 1940, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1968, 1974. 1980, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2011
13 Minority Elections
1921, 1925, 1926, 1945, 1957, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1972, 1979, 2004, 2006, 2008
(the Liberals in 1921, 1926 and 1945 managed to govern as functioning majorities through the support of other MPs)

A number of our majority governments were not very large majorities and it would not have take much for a minority outcome

  • In 1974 only 9 seats needed to change hands to reduce the Liberals to minority
  • In 1980 the Liberals only managed a 12 seat majority, if the Credistes had held onto seven seats the Liberals would have been in a minority
  • The 1997 election came very close to being a Liberal minority, it would have taken five more seats lost for the Liberals to be in a minority    

Given that there will be very likely be five parties elect MPs in 2015 and no one party seems likely to break 40% of the vote, it is hard to see any other outcome other than a minority government after 2015.

In 2015 you will need 170 seats to have a majority in the parliament.  

  • The Conservatives are likely to hold at least 70 seats in Western Canada and 30 seats in Ontario.  This puts them at 100 seats.  The redistribution of seats has tended to add seats in areas that hoave supported the Conservatives.
  • The NDP is likely to hold at least 10 seats each in the west and Ontario as well as retaining at least 30 Quebec seats for a base of 50 seats.
  • The Liberals are very likely to take at least 10 Atlantic, 15 Quebec and 15 Ontario seats for a base of 40 seats.   
  • For simplicity I will assume the Bloc and Greens have a base of five seats total.

Which means about 195 seats are reasonably secure in who will win them.   This leave 143 seats up for grabs.    If the Conservatives can take half of them, they can barely get to majority territory.  The gap between what is likely secure and what is needed for a majority government by the NDP and Liberals is not realistically close at all.

If the NDP can hold onto 80-100 seats and the Conservatives can hold onto 120-140 seats, there are not enough seats available for the Liberals to come close to a majority.   This math leaves them at 93-133 seats.

What we are likely to see after 2015 is another minority Conservative government with two opposition parties vying to be the government in waiting.

Could we see an NDP/Liberal coalition government after the election?   It is possible that the two parties could win enough seats to have a majority between them but I have trouble seeing the two parties being able to form a coalition given that in many provinces the two parties are very much opposed to each other.

The largest party is still likely to be the Conservatives and I assume they would push for another election immediately instead of allowing for a coalition government.  We could see a second election within six months of the 2015 election.  After the 2008 coalition talk the CPC rose massively in popularity.  I can see them risking another election on the hopes of getting a serious bump in the election.

One more thing that could complicate everything is a come back by the Bloc.   If the Bloc can re-take 15 to 30 seats the electoral math for the non Conservatives becomes much harder to get to a majority even with a coalition between the Liberals and NDP.

Realistically I would expect an election in the spring of 2017 to spring of 2018.


For interest, here is how the 2011 and 2008 elections would have turned out with the new boundaries if nothing else was changed

Party   2011 new 2011 old 2008 new 2008 old
CPC      189      166      164      143
NDP      108      103       35       37
Libs      36       34       86       77
Bloc       4        4       51       49
Green/Ind  1        1        2        2

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