Yesterday was the Federal Election in Canada. The incumbent Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau had a majority prior to the election with 177 out of the total 338 seats in Parliament. At total of 170 seats are required to form a majority.
There were 6 parties vying for position in the election.
The two major parties are the Conservative party which is a little right of center, and the Liberal party which sits left of center.
The third party is the New Democratic Party is decidedly left wing in their policies. There are a few wild cards. The Bloque Quebecois, is a party based in the province of Quebec and they are exclusively focused on furthering the interests of Quebec, Canada’s only French speaking province. Historically, the Bloque was furthering the agenda of Quebec independence. These days they don’t talk about separatism and are focused on protecting Quebec’s interests at the Federal level. The Bloque Quebecois could hold the balance of power in a coalition government with either the Liberals or the Conservatives. The Green Party, the People’s Party, the independents, and a few other fringe parties make up the balance.
When you look at what each party is proposing on their election platform, there are supposedly about a dozen election issues, at least according to the media.
Then there’s the big issue that really decides the votes. Do voters like the candidate who is was elected as leader of the party who would ultimately be named Prime Minister. Do they conslder the politician to communicate in an authentic way, or do they find them manipulative? Justin Trudeau who has held the role of Prime Minister for the past mandate narrowly won enough votes to form a minority government. That means that any major legislation will require a coalition with at least one other party and possibly more.
The popular vote separating the Liberal and conservative parties was less than 2% different. Neither party managed to secure more than 33% of the popular vote. So it’s really surprising that any party was able to form a government with such a low percentage of the popular vote.
The US has a decidedly 2 party system. You either get a democratic congress, a democratic senate and a democratic white house, or a republican congress, a republican senate or a republican white house.
But in Canada, there are multiple parties. There are two major parties that seem to capture the majority of the votes, but there’s nothing enshrined in the system that limits the number of parties.
Minority governments are traditionally unstable. They also tend to gridlock and don’t get much done.
Countries that have an electoral system based on proportional representation have a very hard time forming a majority governments. You only need to look at Italy and Israel for examples of the pitfalls of a proportional representation electoral system.
After several weeks since the last general election in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came forward today to concede that despite having the most votes, he has not been able to put together the democratic coalition needed to from the government.
Minority governments have a history of not lasting very long in Canada. They often fall within 18-24 months and the country goes back to the polls.
This particular election was one of the most divisive in recent memory. There were numerous personal attacks and issues where the candidates themselves became the issue.
Much like in the US, the political division is regional. Canada tends to see a stronger base of support in the Western provinces for the Conservative party, and a strong based of support for the Liberal party in Ontario and Quebec.
I found there was little to vote for, only things to vote against.