Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can Elizabeth May win in Saanich-Gulf Islands?

In the recent UK election, the England and Wales Green Party leader Caroline Lucas was elected for the seat Brighton Pavilion.   Does this mean Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May has a chance in Saanich-Gulf Islands

1) The culture in Canada expects a serious party to run a full slate, in the UK there is not such expectation.   The Greens ran in less than half the seats in the recent UK election.   

2) The UK has a long history of electing people not with one of the major parties or MPs from major parties that are hardly on good terms with the leadership.   Canada does not have this sort of history.   In Canada, Arthur Andre in Quebec has been the only non major candidate to win in a long time in Canada.   The few other independents to win have been sitting MPs that fell out with their party.

3) Caroline Lucas has a track record as an MEP since 1999 and has shown she has a track record.  Elizabeth May has never been elected to anything.   

4) The Greens were almost tied for second in 2005 in Brighton Pavilion.   The Greens in Saanich Gulf Islands have done as well and only placing third last time because the New Democrat withdrew.

5) Brighton Pavilion was held by Labour, Saanich Gulf Islands is held by the Conservatives.   Caroline Lucas was in an election that everyone expected Labour to lose.   Labour and the LibDems retained most of their 2005 vote and the Conservatives gained votes, the big change was a large increase in turn out and what seems to be a strong vote for the Greens from people that did not vote in 2005.

6) In Saanich Gulf Islands there was a very strong 'green' campaign by Briony Penn of the Liberals in 2008, she even had the advantage of the New Democrat withdrawing from the race..   IN 2004 Andrew Lewis of the Greens outspent the Liberals and NDP but still came fourth.

I do not see the success of the Green leader in the UK as a serious example for the Greens in Canada.

My take is that it is unlikely that Elizabeth May can win in Saanich and Gulf Islands because there are too many right of centre voters.  To win she will have to be aim for 45% of the vote, an unrealistically high percentage of the vote because it means that the NDP and Liberal votes would have to collapse.   

Greens need to look for ridings where it would be a four party race and the person winning does so with 35% or less of the vote.   A riding that is more Liberal/NDP in orientation is also a better option as these seats have the most votes available to shift to the Greens.

I think she would have a much better chance in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca where it would be possible to win the riding with as little as 30% of the vote.  Vancouver Centre would also have been a better choice, especially given the sitting MP.

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