The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Election prediction

Two days early came the transfer of power to a newly democratic government … interestingly, on the same day another democratic government of the G-8 has chosen to hold its own elections. There are some parallels between the two countries: most notably some degree of ethnic diversity (albeit differently acquired) and the overwhelming influence and borderline threat of a global superpower. (Elections in both will be non-computerised for the foreseeable future, but would that count as a “notable” parallel?) There are also some non-parallels: a current state of peace being a rather major one.

Predictions are a simple thing after the fact. Let’s set this one down in open text well before the polling booths close, and see whether I have any public weathervane sense at all … especially given that going into the election, the undecided vote continues to hover somewhere between 25% and 50% (regional variations). I suspect that only the New Conservative Party will not generally benefit from final decisions made by the undecided, and that the New Democratic Party and formerly fringe parties have most to gain.

Tight Liberal minority (103), New Conservative opposition (101), with Bloc Québecois (59) and New Democrats (43) holding the balance of power. Two possible Green or independent seats.

Liberal: 103
(Atlantic Canada 17, Québec 16, Ontario 51, Prairies/Territories 11, Alberta 1, British Columbia 7)

New Conservative: 101
(Atlantic Canada 11, Québec 0, Ontario 34, Prairies/Territories 10, Alberta 27, British Columbia 20)

New Democratic Party: 43
(Atlantic Canada 4, Québec 0, Ontario 21, Prairies/Territories 10, Alberta 0, British Columbia 7)

Bloc Québecois: 59
(Québec 59)

Other: 2
(Most likely British Columbia or Nunavut, although Ontario could surprise)

Atlantic Canada: New Brunswick (10), Newfoundland and Labrador (7), Prince Edward Island (4), Nova Scotia (11)
Prairies/Territories: Saskatchewan (14), Manitoba (14), Yukon Territory (1), Northwest Territories (1), Nunavut (1)

Brief background and overview:

Canada has a rather archaic system of party-based political representation, wherein the country is divided into 308 “ridings” based upon population and minimum representation. Each riding is individually contested among local candidates, each candidate representing one of the twelve registered political parties. The only measure of victory is the number of winning local candidates representing a particular party. The leader of the winning party, who must be elected in his or her own riding, becomes the Prime Minister. (There are rare exceptions. They can get complicated.) A majority government requires one party to win 155 ridings. In minority governments, one party will have won the most ridings of any party, but not enough to outvote all the other political parties combined. No provision is made for proportional representation.

There is a slight, but real, possibility of the Green Party winning its first seat ever in Canadian politics.

There will - or should! - be some slight protest over ballot confusion, as it is likely that some who meant to vote for the Conservative party will accidentally mark for the Progressive Canadian party instead … indicated as “PC” on the ballot. This used to be the shorthand reference for the immediate predecessor of the current Conservative party, the Progressive Conservatives … several members of whom are currently sitting as independents in protest, and who form the backbone of the new party. In fact, their webpage actually uses the words “Progressive Conservatives”.


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