The US, Nov 2012. The Netherlands, Sep 2012. Canada, May 2011. Now Germany, Sep/Oct 2013. British Columbia, May 2013. The Liberal Party of Canada Leadership election, Apr 2013. And, of course, the one foremost in my mind – Canada 2015.
In the run-up to one of the recent US presidential elections Rachel Maddow squeed and remarked that upcoming elections are like Christmas to political pundits. At the time I shunned this reaction as placing a disproportionate amount of importance on a part (voting) of a system (the electoral system) that isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be (democratic). Given corruptions like unregulated/unlimited campaign contributions (e.g. the Citizens United ruling in the US that paved the unholy path of corporate donations) and single-member plurality (aka first-past-the-post, which makes a mockery of the concept of equal legislative representation) to democratic principles, elections rung hollow and felt phony.
But when I detach myself, even just slightly, from caring about the election results, suddenly the power struggles, political compromises, strategising, deal-making and -breaking, and singular focus on one goal – namely, winning – irrespective of broader context or perspective are as riveting as the most exciting football game in the world.
The particularities of what makes an election exciting depend entirely on the context. Electoral system, demographic, candidates and current societal issues play a significant role. Admittedly it is the inherent unfairness of some systems (*cough* single-member plurality) that make the pre-elections run-up interesting. In Canada, for example, it’s never enough to know how the popular vote is split between parties; one must find out where these potential votes are coming from and how this translates to seats. More data to process, more confusion – more fun.
And what better way to understand the ton of data than through pollsters? Polls are so misleading and yet so, so fun.
In BC it looks like the NDP can run on autopilot from now till May. ThreeHundredEight.com – referring to the 308 electoral districts, or ridings, of Canada – presents poll averages/aggregates. It came up with 48% for the NDP with the Liberals trailing far behind at 30%. Frankly, I’m surprised they even reached 30%, considering how much BCers are thought to hate the Grits. I’m not quite sure why the Greens are polled at 8.5% but 0 seats. Someone explain, please.
The Liberal Leadership race is making me slightly nervous, what with Justin Trudeau polling at 77% and the other numbers saying many NDP supporters would switch over if Justin was the party leader. Ugh. None of the candidates except Joyce Murray have come out in support of electoral cooperation, and that scares the heck out of me. The NDP has in previous years officially supported it, but recent happenings makes me think either it’s getting cold feet or party leader Thomas Mulclair is being a huge tool. The Greens support both electoral cooperation and electoral reform, which is friggin awesome, but let’s be realistic – they have nothing to lose by doing so.
Coolest thing about the Liberal Leadership election? ANYONE CAN VOTE!!! Ok, not anyone. Anyone who is not a card-carrying member of another federal political party. Given the low rate of party membership these days, that’s almost everyone :P It takes 20 seconds to sign up, you vote online, and it’s free. I don’t support the party (despite checking off the mandatory box saying I do), but I do support electoral reform, which could theoretically happen with some electoral cooperation that brings about a non-Conservative, Liberal minority win. Which means being a single-issue voter, gathering together a ton of other people who support the same cause, and trying to get the candidates’ attention. With Justin receiving a lot of backing by other Liberal MPs this will be difficult, but with 40,000+ Canadians saying they support cooperation, not impossible.