Saturday, February 14, 2015

In 2015 it might be time to pay some attention to the Libertarian party

It is eight months till the 2015 federal election and the Libertarian Party already has 45 candidates nominated(1).   In the last 11 elections they have at best managed to nominate 88 candidates in 1988.   45 is already more candidates than what they have run in the six elections.   There could be a chance they will  run a full slate(2) and that would be an important change to the 2015 election and possibly harm the Conservatives.

It will be interesting to see what the impact of a full slate by the Libertarians might have on the election.   The one group of Conservatives, above all others, that Stephen Harper has disappointed are libertarians.   People had hoped for a secret libertarian agenda once the government had a majority but quickly found out this was not going to happen.

My expectation for the 2015 election is that most libertarians would have decided to stay home or reluctantly voted for the Conservatives.  With a full slate from the Libertarian Party of Canada there is a place for people to protest the status quo and have it reflect their values.

Tim Moen, leader of the Libertarian party
I do not expect with a full slate for the Libertarians to do well enough to place ahead of any of the parties that currently hold seats, but winning between 2% and 4% of the vote nationally is very realistic.   Their impact will be enough that Conservatives will start to worry about vote splitting hurting them.   Their best candidates could get as many as 3,000 votes and that is clearly more than the margin of Conservative victory in many seats in 2011.

Managing to run a full slate is not easy.  Since the 1965 election the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives(3)  have always run a full slate.  In the last 15 election the only new parties to run full slates were the Canadian Alliance in  2000 and the Greens in the last four elections.   If the Libertarians were to manage a full slate, they would be only the third new party to do so in 50 years.

The Green party came onto the national scene in 2004 because of the tireless work of the new leader at the time, Jim Harris.   He managed to organize the Greens well enough for the 2004 election that the party did run a full slate.  If this had not happened the Green Party of Canada would not be what it is today.

Not only have few parties managed to run a full slate, there are only five other parties that have even managed to run more than 100 candidates in the last 50 years.   The Libertarians are already at 45 candidates, I have no doubt they will easily break 100 candidates, but can leader Tim Moen get them close to 338?

If Tim Moen does manage to get the party to a full slate they will become a factor in the election.   As much as I am a vote splitting skeptic(4), the Libertarians could be enough of a factor in close races that they could cost the Harper Conservatives a few seats.

It will be very interesting to see how the Libertarian party plays out in this election.
Some Data
Here is the list of fringe parties that managed to run more than 100 candidates but not a full slate in the last 15 elections

  •                         Candidates
  • Party         Election Number Percent. % of vote
  • Green            2000    111   36.9%     0.81%
  • Natural Law      1997    136   45.2%     0.29%
  • Natural Law      1993    231   78.3%     0.63% 
  • National Party   1993    170   57.6%     1.38% 
  • Rhino            1980    121   42.9%     1.01%
  • Marxist-Leninist 1980    177   62.7%     0.13%
  • Marxist-Leninist 1979    144   51.1%     0.12%
  • Marxist-Leninist 1974    104   39.2%     0.17%

Major Parties since 1965 that did not run full slates(5)

  • Party     Election   # of Cand.  MPs
  • Bloc              2011    75      4
  • Bloc              2008    75     49
  • Bloc              2006    75     51
  • Bloc              2004    75     54
  • Bloc              2000    75     38
  • Reform            1997   227     60
  • Bloc              1997    75     44
  • Bloc              1993    75     54
  • Reform            1993   207     52
  • Reform            1988    72      0
  • Social Credit     1980    81      0
  • Social Credit     1979   103      6
  • Social Credit     1974   152     15
  • Social Credit     1972   164     15
  • Rall. créd+Socred 1968   104     14+0
  • Rall. créd+Socred 1965   163      9+5
(1) With 45 candidates nominated, this places the Libertarians ahead of the Greens who have 44 candidates nominated as of today
(2) By full slate I do not mean 100% of the seats, but relatively close, within 10 or so seats of running in all of the seats
(3) By Conservatives I mean the PCs till 2000 and the CPC since 2004 
(4)I think the impact of vote splitting is very much over rated.   In most cases it is not going on and very few seats are won or lost based on it.

(5)  Major meaning they won seats in the election, were holding them or won them in the next one.

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