Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A new twist on strategic voting

In both his latest blog post and today's National Post column (subscriber only), Andrew Coyne suggests that disillusioned Liberals may well want to think about voting strategically for the NDP this time if they want to make sure a Conservative minority government will be held in check after January 23rd:

On the Liberals' other flank, the NDP might at the same time plead, especially with Ontario voters: give us enough seats so that we hold the balance of power. You're wondering whether to vote Liberal to "stop Harper"? You can't stop Harper: the Liberals can't win. But if the Liberals can't keep him from power, the NDP can still keep him in check. Whether the Grits win 90 seats or 100 seats, it makes no difference. But whether the NDP win 20 or 30 seats makes all the difference in the world.
It may sound a little crazy by conventional thinking, but when the Conservatives start coming within striking distance of the Liberals in Quebec, these aren't conventional times. Coyne's a pretty sensible guy, and he's making a difficult argument to counter. And if we add this sort of thinking to the growing number of one-time or current Conservative supporters who have been looking in the NDP's direction for an "anyone but the Liberals" vote, we may have the early beginnings of a movement.


Patrick said...

Stephane Dion is reported ( as saying it is preferable to vote Conservative or NDP than to vote Bloc. Making him your highest level endorsement.

I would add to your succinct and excellent analysis only this one point. You have to believe there are two federalist parties that deserve to be in a position to influence the decisions of the next government for strategic voting to make sense. In my case, I have long thought the NDP to be a party of principle, and so when faced in my own riding with a situation where the Conservative doesn't have a chance, I planned to vote NDP. I'm changing my mind rapidly every time I see Jack tear into the Conservatives, like a girl in the schoolyard trying to get the two biggest boys to fight. Jack should be aspiring to climb over the carcass of the Liberals, not to bring the frontrunner down despite the implications for Canada and his own party.

If the Conservatives and Liberals are close to a tie in the seat count, the NDP will lose the balance of power. Simple as that. Jack had better smarten up, or he'll tear down the only other party capable of providing an ethical alternative to the Liberals.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Well, I don't have any special in with Jack by virtue of my party membership, but I too have been cringing a little at the anti-Conservative rhetoric. It's quite inconsistent with his rhetoric that says he's willing to "make Parliament work."

One thing I think we've both got to keep in mind, though, is that this may just be what he needs to do to reassure his base. People have been told for so long that a vote for the NDP is a vote for the Conservatives, and people need to know that's not literally true, that Jack isn't just going to fly into Stephen Harper's waiting arms and do whatever he wants. (Which he won't, you know. A Conservative minority governing only by consent of the NDP would be a tough situation for both parties, and there would only be a small fraction of the Conservative agenda that would be accomplishable.)

Anyway, Stephen Harper needs to play up the similarities right now, and Jack needs to play up the differences. If we look at the situation, it's pretty clear why. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the two men have even discussed this. If Jack keeps this rhetoric up after the election, though, and refuses to play nice even where there's potential for compromise, you guys can throw him to the wolves, with my blessing.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Greg of Sinister Thoughts (and many of his commenters) agree with my take on this, by the way.