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I get the impression that Stephen Harper's master plan is to reduce the Bloc Quebecois and Liberals to minor party status and create something like the British political system of the 1950s.
In a Conservative/NDP two party system, the Tories would win most of the rural and suburban seats in most elections. In a Canadian context the big cities represent a minority of the country, so a party which only wins the urban seats is going to be in opposition. As the Liberals have more chance of winning significant numbers of seats outside the cities than the NDP in a good election, it would be in the Conservative interest to have the latter as the principal challengers.
Frequent elections would be very difficult for the Canadian Liberals, who are short of cash and have a decaying organisation. This could have the same effect as the British elections in 1922, 1923 and 1924 which cemented the British Liberals into third party status, in a Conservative/Labour two party system.
It would seem if Liberal resources are stretched, that an Federal electoral cease-fire with the NDP, where the NDP does not field against sitting Liberal MP's and conversely, would increase the prospects of entering into a coalition government, and then of course being in government might allow some minor repairs and maintenance of party machinery.
(And I suppose a push for electoral reform in favor of second-preference voting? Are Canadian Federal ridings first past the post?)
I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
Until 2003 the Liberals were able to win enormous majorities because their opposition was fragmented. This probably contributed to the scandals which eventually led to them losing power to the new Conservatives.
Is the eventual reaction to unity on the right going to be greater co-operation on the centre-left?
Outsiders might see it as being in the interests of the Liberals and NDP to join forces, to secure a proportional representation system. I see no sign that either party actually wants to do that at the moment.
The problem may be that the Liberals are a party with a majoritarian ethos, who see themselves as the natural governing party of Canada. They were in power for most of the twentieth century. It is therefore natural for the Grits to assume that sooner or later things will return to normal with a Liberal administration being installed.
As with the British Liberals it may be that only after losing the status of being one of the two parties of government, they will adopt proportional representation. As with the British Labour Party, if the NDP became one of the two leading parties, they might lose all interest in proportional representation.
However if the current stalemate continues for many more Parliaments, Canadian politicians may realise that coalitions and electoral reform are necessary.
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