Thursday, March 27, 2014

What if the Orange Wave crested earlier?

As someone who politically came of age during the minority years after 2004, it is striking just how much the 2011 federal election transformed the political landscape in Canada. Prior to that election, and after the uniting of the right in 2003, the presence of the Bloc Québécois and its ability to take 40-50 seats off the table made cobbling together a majority government a difficult thing. But what would the elections between 1997 and 2008 have looked like if the NDP had made its breakthrough into Quebec earlier?

Before getting into this hypothetical exercise, a little business. Today is the last chance you have to pre-order Tapping into the Pulse: Political public opinion polling in Canada, 2013. Pre-ordering will save you 20% off the price of the eBook, which will be made available for sale via this site, Amazon, and Kobo tomorrow! 

A few caveats before we get into these hypothetical scenarios. Obviously, if the NDP was able to breakthrough into Quebec in 1997 the course of the party's history would be entirely different. But would a breakthrough in 1997 or 2000 under Alexa McDonough even be possible? If it had occurred before 2003, would Jack Layton still have been chosen as leader? How would the other parties have reacted to an NDP based primarily in Quebec? All of these questions are unanswerable, and will be left unanswered here.

The scenarios outlined below are based on the following premise: that the NDP takes the same proportion of the vote from the Bloc, Liberals, and Conservatives (or PCs and Reform/Canadian Alliance) that they did between the 2008 and 2011 elections. Would that happen exactly the same way in every election between 1997 and 2008, each with their own issues and dynamics? Of course not. But again, we're just doing a hypothetical exercise.

For the seats, I started with the UBC's electoral forecaster for 1997, but used a simpler system afterwards as that model does not handle huge surges by one party very well (in 2011, it would have given the NDP over 70 seats in Quebec). For the elections between 2000 and 2008, I merely penalized the parties by the same proportion as occurred between the 2008 and 2011 elections, and awarded the NDP the rest.

Results in the rest of the country are unchanged. Would that happen if the NDP was surging in Quebec? Probably not. But again...

What is the purpose of this exercise? Much of it is sheer curiosity, but I think it also shows just how important Quebec has been in the past and how it can still be important in the future.

The first scenario imagines that, after the referendum defeat of 1995, the Bloc Québécois is deemed no longer very useful and voters drift over to the NDP (note that in 1988 the NDP had 14% support in Quebec, better even than their 2008 performance under Layton, so it is not unthinkable). 

The NDP wins Quebec with 37% of the vote, while the Bloc Québécois drops to 30%, the Liberals to 20%, and the Progressive Conservatives to 10%. This gives the NDP 56 seats, leaving just 12 for the Bloc, five for the Liberals, and one for the PCs.

The NDP's surge in Quebec propels them to Official Opposition status ahead of the Reform Party, while the Bloc drops to fifth-party status behind the Tories. Jean Chrétien wins a minority government. His only viable route to getting legislation passed is the NDP, as the Tories are not strong enough to give them a majority of seats.

In 2000, we can either imagine that the NDP continues its dominance in Quebec, propping up the Liberals for three years, or that the 1997 breakthrough never occurs, and instead takes place for the first time in 2000. For continuity, we'll assume the former scenario.

The NDP takes 37% of the vote again, while the Bloc plummets to 23%. This barely puts them ahead of the Liberals, who win 22%, while the PCs take 17% of the vote. The NDP retains 56 seats, while the Liberals take advantage of the Bloc's tumble to win 13 seats. The Bloc loses enough support in rural Quebec to the PCs to give the party no more than a handful of seats, and it is reduced to four.

The Liberals are returned with another minority government of 149 seats, while the NDP just manages to hold onto the Official Opposition role with 69 seats. But they lose their influence in the government, as the Progressive Conservatives use their 13 seats to give Chrétien a workable majority government. Disappointed that she continues to struggle to breakthrough in the rest of the country, McDonough resigns as leader and is replaced by Layton, who emphasizes his Quebec roots in his successful leadership bid.

Disgusted that Joe Clark has teamed up with the Liberals, the PCs split apart. One faction officially joins the Liberals while the other group approaches the Canadian Alliance. An agreement is reached to form a new Conservative Party.

Layton manages to keep the New Democrats the first choice of Quebecers with 38% of the vote, but the Liberals have been boosted to 27% thanks to the PCs from Quebec having joined the party en masse. The Bloc takes 25% of the vote while the new Conservatives, seen as too close to the old Reform wing, manages just 9% of the vote. The NDP takes 54 seats, with the Liberals winning 18 and the Bloc taking three.

This gives Paul Martin a new minority government, but the Official Opposition role has gone to Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Determined to not make the same mistake Clark made, Harper refuses to co-operate with the Liberals under any circumstances, and the Liberals and NDP team up to form a majority government.

But the sponsorship scandal poisons the relationship between the Liberals and the heavily Quebec-based NDP, and the coalition falls apart and new elections are called in 2006.

The NDP takes 39% of the vote in another successful campaign, but the Bloc jumps to 30% as a result of the sponsorship scandal. The Liberals still take 20%, while the Conservatives drop again to just 7%. The NDP takes 60 seats, their best-ever result, while the Liberals are reduced to 11. For all their gains, the Bloc picks up just one seat.

Harper manages to form a minority government with 114 seats, as Layton refuses to join with the Liberals again. For two years, he instead works with the Conservatives to pass budgets, though they oppose everything else the government proposes until things come to a head in 2008, and the government falls.


The NDP takes 38% of the vote in Quebec and holds 59 seats, as the Liberals drop to just 12% and seven seats. The Conservatives, now in government, manage to increase their vote share (at the expense of the Liberals) to 19% and win five seats, while the Bloc slips slightly to 26%.

Harper forms another minority government with 138 seats, while Layton takes over the role of Official Opposition from Stéphane Dion, whom the Liberals selected in hopes of winning back the Quebec vote. Dion proposes that the Liberals and NDP join up again to form a majority government. Layton has a chance to become Prime Minister, but his support in the rest of Canada is still weak and his potential partners have just been dealt a terrific blow in Quebec. Does he accept?

The point of this exercise is not historical revisionism, but instead what these numbers tell us about the future. As the Conservatives won a majority government in 2011, one might be persuaded that all Quebecers did was replace a teal party with an orange party - it doesn't change the electoral calculations one bit if the Conservatives win a majority government completely outside Quebec. But that was the unusual event. In previous elections, the Conservatives had never been strong enough to win a majority government outside of Quebec. Recall that in 2006 and 2008 the Conservatives were kept to a minority despite winning 10 seats in Quebec. 

If the 40 to 50 seats the Bloc routinely won are now up for grabs by a national party, that changes things tremendously. Majority governments could have been cobbled together between 2004 and 2008 if the Bloc wasn't such an unacceptable dancing partner for a government. Barring a return to prominence for the Bloc, that is no longer a problem. What will that mean in 2015 and beyond?

46 comments:

  1. What makes you think the NDP has crested at all? They could sweep the entire province next election. Mulcair is by far the most popular politician in Quebec.

    Also, the reason the NDP are doing well in Quebec is because of a series of important policy changes. Adopting the Sherbrooke declaration, opposing the gun registry...and Mulcair winning his byelection in 2007 was the beginning so I don't see the point of this exrecise except for you to say "The NDP wave has crested" which is not true at all.

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    1. Are you serious? Like, really?

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    2. Like, seriously. I write a post about what it would be like if the NDP did really well between 1997 and 2008, and you take it as a dig at the NDP?

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    3. And I didn't even say "the NDP wave has crested" or made any suggestion that the NDP cannot do as well or better in 2015. Sheesh.

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    4. The NDP does not oppose the gun registry, the Conservatives opposed then repealed the gun registry. The one Dipper who voted with the Conservative motion Bev Desjarlais was unceremoniously dumped from the NDP caucus by Jack Layton.

      Seriously though, according to all the poll data the NDP has peaked. They peaked slightly after Mulcair became leader at 34/35% in May-June 2012. For the past year the NDP has consistently polled in the mid-20's. That is not to say the NDP is unable to repeat their 2011 performance merely that as of today poll data indicates they are unlikely to do so.

      I think we have not seen the end of the BQ. It may lie dormant for a few elections but, some time in the future scandal or war or profound disagreement in policy will put new life into its veins. The BQ is the quintessential protest party (like the NDP once was) in Quebec. As soon as Quebeckers need to protest against Canada again the BQ will awaken from its slumber.

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    5. The point was that the NDP position on the gun registry was popular.

      The NDP is going into the election way ahead of where they were last time. They may just gather momentum again. Trudeau's honeymoon is lasting long, but I've yet to see whether he can weather a campaign. After decades of voting Liberal on my part, it will be a while before I vote Liberal again now that I don't have to. Maybe after an NDP government gets tired.

      On the BQ, it could be a few decades before they become important again. The only thing that kept them going was Liberal governments and the possibility of sovereignty. Right now, Trudeau and Mulcair are the most popular politicians in Quebec, and it will be a race between them nxt election.

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    6. Bede, I think you are confusing the gun registry with same sex marriage. Bev Desjarlais was a member of neither the NDP nor the House of Commons when the gun vote came up -- she had already become independent, lost reelection to Tina Keeper in 2006, who then lost to Niki Ashton in 2008.

      There were 12 NDP MPs who voted to abolish the gun registry at second reading -- the whole northern caucus. 11 of them are still New Democrats. They include Niki Ashton, also Nathan Cullen, Charlie Angus, et al -- prominent front-benchers in the NDP caucus.

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    7. No offense but the title of the article is "What if the Orange Wave had crested earlier?" You are implying that it has crested.

      I meant to say the NDP opposed the dismantling of the gun registry and that was popular in Quebec. The fact that they gave their members a free vote, under Layton, was popular in Northern Ontario. I believe it was under the interim leadership of Turmel when the members were punished for not voting for the registry. This led to the eventual floor crossing of Bruce Hyer.

      In most polls the NDP is still leading in Quebec. I don't understand why everyone is in such a rush to write their obituary.

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    8. MGK,

      You're right I stand corrected.

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    9. Knownothingsk - please look at the polling average on the right hand side of the page.

      It has crested.

      That doesn't mean there can't be a new wave. But for now, it's crested.

      I'd point out though that's not what Eric's article suggests though. It looks at the Orange Wave happening in the 1990s, and then being maintained indefinitely.

      So your criticism is WAY off base.

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  2. I don't think those Bloc seats in Quebec are up for grabs. I think the NDP has them, has a solid base, and has a leader who has taken a long-term approach to building a base in Quebec as the Bloc and Liberals neglected theirs. They fought elections on identity issues as the people grew tired of it. Mulcair and Layton appear to have tapped into that fatigue more effectively than provincial parties like the ADQ, QS, and CAQ.

    The NDP is now a permanent national factor in any federal election, with a strong base in BC, ON, QC, SK, and ATL. The question is whether Mulcair can turn that into a majority government in the next two elections by convincing more Ontarians to vote NDP.

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    1. Guy,

      The NDP base across Canada is faltering. In the Atlantic they are polling in the 20's across all 4 provinces. The Newfoundland NDP has essentially fallen apart, the NSNDP has the ignominy of being the only single term government in Nova Scotia history (they got thrashed in the last election), In New Brunswick they are far behind in the polls to the Liberals. In PEI some hope exist because the Tories are in the midst of a civil war but, at this point that is all it is.

      On the prairies they win a handful of seats federally at the moment they are in the high 20's but are only in the high teens in Alberta. With these numbers they would be lucky to win 6 seats in MB, SK, AB.

      In BC the party is essentially in disarray and mired in scandal. They had to beg John Horgan to run for provincial leader, they lost an election by all accounts they should have won and they are devoid of ideas and fresh talent. Sure, they'll win 6-14 seats next time federally election but, since they are down a couple points from the last election they'll likely lose one or two seats.

      In Ontario the federal and provincial party seem incapable of breaking the 25% mark. With the resurgence of the Liberals federally the NDP is on course to lose about half its Ontario seats.

      The NDP's biggest problem to forming government is Mulcair himself. His "Dutch disease" comment has alienated most Western voters particularly in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC. His policy on Quebec independence (50%+1) alienates Ontarians, federalist Quebeckers and others across the country especially in Ontario. At this point NDP policy is at odds with federal law!

      The BC NDP were deluded by euphoric poll numbers and a 20% lead. You are in danger of making the same mistake if you think all well with the NDP across the country. The polls are clear and have been so for the best part of a year-the NDP is heading toward third party status at the next election. Of course there is still time to turn things around but, Dippers must first be capable of identifying the problem(s).

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    2. Any additional gains the Mulcair's NDP gets in Ontario, will be primarily due to Horwath's popularity. Although, I feel both the federal and provincial NDP will be more competitive in Southwestern Ontario.

      A federal NDP majority in two election cycles? Hard to imagine at the moment.

      An Ontario NDP minority in one or two election cycles? More likely to imagine at the moment.

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    3. Bebe

      The NDP is still stronger at this point in the places that count than they were before the last election.

      In Quebec, they polled at 10-12% before the election. Now they poll at 23-27%.

      In Ontario, they polled at 15-18%. Now they poll at 21-24%.

      In B.C., the NDP polled at 25%. Now they poll at 30%. This is an expansion of their base.

      In the remaining regions, they do no worse than they did before the last election.

      Keep in mind that the weakness of the Liberals in the last two elections did not show until the election campaign, when the Liberal campaign collapsed because its base deserted it, particularly in Quebec. Whereas before they could count on getting out the vote by getting frightened anglos like me to the polls, the lack of grass-roots membership meant that the Liberals were hobbled. People who always wanted to vote NDP but were afraid to finally voted their conscience.

      Trudeau is an able MP, an even better boxer, and looks good in a canoe, but as a die hard Trudeau Liberal (as in Pierre Trudeau) I see Mulcair as much closer to the substance of the ideals of a "just society" than Justin.

      Moreover, it seems to me that it's the Liberals that are euphoric at Justin's performance in the polls. They seem to be oblivious to the the fact that they have no party left outside Montreal and Toronto. Frankly, I'll be surprised if they candidates ready to go in all Quebec seats before the next election is called. The fact is while Chretien and Martin were packing the Senate with Liberal bagmen and parachuting str candidates into safe seats, Mulcair was building a real base in Quebec.


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    4. Guy,

      In some ways the NDP today is better off but in two ways they are in a weaker position; The loss of jack Layton is a huge blow and puts them in a far worse position. I am not criticising Mulcair but, Layton worked a rapport with voters that Mulcair simply has not been able to emulate. Secondly, the loss of the per vote subsidy disproportionately benefits the Tories.

      If I were you I would not mock the Grits for "They seem to be oblivious to the the fact that they have no party left outside Montreal and Toronto". The votes and seats are in Toronto and Montreal! You demonstrate a major NDP's own weakness with this point. Thus far the NDP has had mixed success in urban areas especially among blue collar and middle class voters.

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  3. Looking at 2015 and beyond, I feel it will still be difficult for any party to win a majority government.

    All three major parties have strong demographic, regional and ideological bases. The NDP may not have the support or resources to outright win government, but they have consistently polling in the mid 20s range. Their vote is pretty efficient too, since their support is concentrated in Quebec, along with urban and blue collar areas throughout the country.

    The electoral map that produced the Conservative majority in 2011 was an unusual event that would not be repeated again. The Liberal collapse across the country (especially in the GTA) was the primary reason the Conservatives were able to win a comfortable majority with only 5 seats in Quebec.

    The Liberals are back in form, but the Conservatives and NDP are still holding on.

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  4. I should point out the NDP has been a "permanent
    factor" in Canadian elections since, 1932. They keep losing but, one must give them credit for their tenacity.

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    1. They were not a factor in Quebec; they were not in Atlantic Canada.

      They were never a true national party until the last election. That election changed everything for the NDP in terms of their national scope. It made them the official opposition for the first time in history.

      Moreover, it was the first time I and many other Quebeckers voted strategically voted for the NDP. Previously, I voted Liberal. That's a big change in Quebec.

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    2. I don't buy your logic. The Liberals rarely have been competitive in Western Canada, Conservatives have rarely been competitive in Quebec both are and have always been considered "national parties".

      I hardly see how Quebeckers voting NDP in 2011 is "voting strategically". Quebeckers continued a tradition begun in 1993 of voting for a party that will not form government.

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    3. What are you talking about?! The NDP was only founded in 1961.

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    4. Bede - There's competitive and then /competitive/ :p. The NDP took less than 2% of the vote in Quebec in 2000. That's not just uncompetitive, that's completely off the radar. The Liberals have never done that badly in any region.

      I don't agree with Guy's assessment entirely either though. The NDP have been a factor in Nova Scotia for a long time.

      This is kind of a unique period in Canadian politics, isn't it? Other than 1988, I can't think of any other time when we had 3 political parties putting up double-digit results in every region of the country.

      I wonder how long it will last. On the one hand, Duverger's Law suggests that our elections will be pushed back towards a two party system.

      On the other hand, there's a long-term trend of increased political fractionalization throughout the Western world (something I attribute to the same trend in media).

      Should be interesting in the future.

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    5. Ryan,

      I take your point but, whether you're at 2% or 18% in a particular region the probability a party will win seats is low. In 1984 the Liberals won 1 seats West of Ontario. In 1984 the Liberals were completely off the radar in every riding except Little Leningrad in Edmonton and Vancouver Quadra out. So although there may be a large difference in polling the seats numbers are almost identical.

      You may be interested to look at polls from the infancy of polling in the mid-1940's. For a while around 1944 it looked as though the CCF had a chance at forming government. Whether all 3 parties were competitive or not I do not know.

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    6. klobklobklob,

      The CCF was founded in 1932. The CCF is regarded as the forerunner of the NDP. In fact the NDP was a "merger" of the CCF and CAW, in reality it is better described as a re-branding of the CCF since almost all familiar CCF faces transferred their loyalty to the NDP. THe NDP even kept the CCF's policy platform instead of writing a new one. The Winnipeg declaration remained official NDP policy until 1983.

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  5. Great analysis, Eric. All these scenarios are plausible at the very least, and give us an interesting picture of what could have been had the NDP not had the life squeezed out of it during the 1990's. Its also a clue of the kind of result we might get in 2015.

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  6. My theory on the 2011 result is that the massive "Orange Wave" that swept through Quebec scared Ontario Blue. I'll admit that I didn't think a majority achievable without Quebec before the new 30 seats were added. I was wrong , but will be happy to make an early prediction on 2015.

    I'm seeing a likely Conservative plurality, with a very good chance of a coalition Lib/NDP not letting it gain confidence in the house.

    We will see then how Canadians react to such a coalition. To be clear, I see nothing wrong with it, as long as the leaders do not explicitly rule it out during the campaign.

    I'ts possible such a coalition could prove durable, and gain wide support. I do not think this likely.

    For those claiming that the 2011 result is not repeatable, I believe this type of plausible scenario could lead to the conditions for them to win another majority without Quebec.

    I've underestimated PM Harper before, and it's not that hard to imagine him ready to pick up the pieces if such a theoretical coalition were to falter.

    The extra seats will make a difference as well, and not in the favour of Quebec influence in Ottawa. Interesting times ahead in any event.

    I could envision a Trudeau minority (as the polls now indicate) but my prediction is predicated on his stumbling a bit. If that happens all bets are off as he would easily command the confidence of the house. After that his fortunes would depend on how well he governed.

    Sorry to blather on a bit, but hypothetical politics is fun!

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    1. The 2008 coalition was not accepted by the Canadian public due to a variety of reasons. The dynamics have changed in 2015 where a LPC/NDP coalition will be more plausible to voters.

      In 2008, the Bloc Quebecois would have propped up a LPC/NDP coalation led by the hapless Stephane Dion. In 2015, there will be two coalition partners, a more competent Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.

      In December 2008, Stephen Harper was PM for less than 3 years. His party increased his vote and seat share. In 2015, Harper would have been in power for nearly a decade. And a large segment of the electorate are tired of this government. Thus, it would be easier for a coalition to be formed, should the Conservatives win a plurality of seats.

      Mulcair's coalition talk a while back shows that the senior NDP brass realizes the party still has a some way to go from achieving power. The likely scenario of being in government would mean being a junior partner to a Liberal government. The NDP has a strong front bench with the likes of Nathan Cullen, Peter Julian, Paul Dewar, Charlie Angus etc. These guys are competent enough to be cabinet ministers, but might never get the chance unless they bend a bit to the Liberals.

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    2. I think the biggest issue with the 2008 coalition was the optics with the Bloc (which weren't even downplayed). You pay a price when you break cordon sanitaire.

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    3. There were many problems with the 2008 coalition process and structure including the method by which the coalition attempted to become government.

      Trudeau will never agree to a coalition unless he has a minority of seats. Even then to agree to a coalition with the NDP is to surrender a large part of the big tent party to the Dippers and with it the power and cachet of governing. It is to share the title of natural governing party with the NDP. Trudeau will want to govern alone.

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    4. Trudeau doesn't have to agree to or need a "coalition" bede and you know that !! There have been in our history several successful minority govt's where the third party supported the leading minority party. Think Tommy Douglas for one supporting the Liberals.

      Formal coalition in our system is unnecessary and unneeded !

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    5. That is what I write Peter! Trudeau will only join with the NDP as a last resort and he may not even do that preferring to test his luck at the polls instead!

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    6. No bede you implied very clearly that a formal coalition agreement was necessary and I pointed out that no formal agreement was needed and gave the example of Tommy Douglas.

      Trudeau can have "working agreement" with the NDP on a specific bill but IMO that's not necessary nor desirable.

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    7. Peter,

      At first I thought your April 1 post was a not very funny April Fool's joke. After reading a second time I realise you do not understand the difference between a minority party, minority government and a plurality party.

      To be clear though when somebody writes:Trudeau will never agree to a coalition; and then; Trudeau will want to govern alone. They are not recommending or predicting a coalition! I am certainly not implying a formal agreement is needed which is why I comment that a coalition would in effect remove the Liberals' biggest asset.

      The problem Peter is that you did not understand the second half of the clause: unless he has a minority of seats. You confuse minority of seats with minority government. A minority of seats in Parliament is any number of seats below a plurality of seats. A plurality being the largest number of seats in the House that is not a majority (50%+1). If Trudeau had a minority of seats that would mean the Liberals would be the second or third largest party in the House and would not hold a plurality.

      I would please ask you read more carefully before accusing others needlessly!

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    8. Well done bede you completely agreed with my position.

      It's nice to know that after 70+ years of observing Canadian politics I've got it basically right.

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  7. Regardless of all the smoke and mirrors in these comments the reality is that the NDP will NOT be the next Govt nationally. They will do well in Quebec but everywhere else the Trudeau Liberals will cream them.

    The reactions outside Quebec to an appearance by Justin have to be seen to be believed. He's almost overwhelmed and that's without any kind of real policy pronouncements. Harper will lose to. Get used to reality !

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    1. For the Liberals to win a majority they would have to increase their seat total from 36 to 170. Moreover, they would have to reverse a declining trend over the last 4 elections in terms of both seats and popular votes. That is the reality.

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    2. Liberals don't need a majority to form government FYI knownothingsk. Just a plurality (and perhaps less than that). That is the reality.

      In terms of trends - all things change.

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    3. It would be near impossible for a minority party to form government. A plurality of seats may get you a minority government but, a minority of seat almost guarantees some form of power sharing agreement. A government with a minority of seats would be unable to pass legislation since, a party presumably the Official Opposition would be able to out vote the government by holding a plurality of seats.

      On the face of it such a government is unable to meet the basic requirements outlined in the Lascelles principles. Therefore, the Governor General would be well within his purview to call a new election. I think this a far more plausible outcome than a party with a minority of seats governing alone.

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  8. Another alternate scenario for you, Éric, is : What if the 2011 election had gone on another two weeks?

    My feeling at the time was that the Conservatives might have been denied their majority... the NDP was still steadily rising (apart from the last day or two before election day) in BC and Ontario... they might have passed the threshhold giving them more seats in BC (at the expense of the Conservatives) and more in Ontario (at the expense of both Libs and Cons...?).

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    1. The Tories peaked shortly after the election so we would likely see an even larger Tory majority today.

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    2. During election and post election are two completely different contexts... they can't be compared. During the election, the NDP was still climbing in the polls right up to the end, so it's possible to speculate what might have happened if it had gone on longer. Once the election is over, the context is too significantly altered for reasonable speculation.

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    3. Why not? Your hypothesis rests on an equally metaphysical proposition?

      According to Nanos by e-day the NDP vote was in decline-they peaked two days before the election.

      If it is possible to speculate why not use the data available? The Tories peak a week or so post-2011 election, the NDP rise is halted and they start a protracted decline that lasts until March 2012 and the Grits improve slightly on their 2011 result.

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  9. Eric, I am wondering why you have the Conservatives doing so poorly in 2006 with just 9% when in real life they surged to 25% (a veritable blue wave)...

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    1. in Quebec?!?!

      Also, he put 2004 at 9%, and 2006 at 7%. In Quebec.

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  10. I don't see Quebec voters with any kind of nationalist sympathies gathering behind the McDonough NDP. Her French wouldn't even impress Ignatieff.

    If anything, a stronger movement away from nationalism on the part of the Quebec electorate would benefit the Liberals more so than the NDP at that point, as both parties were seen as favouring the centralization of power in Ottawa, a vision that Chretien was far more capable of selling than anyone in the NDP.

    2000 is an even tougher slog, as the BQ has an entrenched leader with leftist bonafides and strong ties to organised labour, which coupled with the corresponding process of social democratisation and cosmopolitanization that was underway in earnest within the BQ hands all but the most anti-nationalist centre left and leftist vote to them.

    The NDP has no answer to any of this without Jack Layton, without the NPI, and without any kind of process in place to build a functioning party apparatus. Even in 2011, post-election polls show that it was the hard left more so than the nationalist vote that stayed loyal to Duceppe's BQ. It remains to be seen what these voters will do with the recent concessions that the nationalist leadership has made to the right and to morally bankrupt neoliberalism. The kind of people who stood with the BQ in 2011 are not the kind of people who tend to support the likes of Marois and Peladeau, and I'm sure some feel betrayed by Duceppe's rapprochement with the rightist PQ establishment.

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  11. CROP poll (for CAQ) of francophone voters :

    http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/elections-quebec-2014/201403/31/01-4753061-caq-bond-significatif-des-intentions-de-vote-chez-les-francophones.php

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  12. I would venture to guess that in these scenarios, 2008 would see the first ever NDP government. Without the spextor of the Bloc dragging it down, The Layton-Dion coalition succeeds.

    I would assume Harper would step down at this point...and without his iron fist, the right fragments again intobthe PCs under John McKay and the reformed Alliance under John Baird

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