Monday, May 2, 2011

Crystal Ball #2

I'm changing my bets. Yesterday's polls show the Liberal collapse continuing across the country. I now think the Liberals may get as few as two dozen seats.

The only area of the country where Liberal fortunes have improved is in BC. They're still in third place there, but they're recovering enough to split the vote with the NDP and hand some closely contested seats to the Conservatives.

I now think the Bloc is in worse trouble than I thought yesterday, too. I think they may get as few as 20 seats. Hopefully even less.

On the other hand, the NDP surge continues - entirely at the expense of the Liberals and the Bloc. So I now expect them to take at least 100 seats.

The Conservatives continue to hold steady or may be climbing. With the Liberal collapse, I think they've got a 50-50 chance of hitting 155 seats, which is what they need for a majority.

So here's my new prediction:

Conservatives: 155 seats (more or less)
NDP: 105 seats (more or less)
Liberals: 24 seats (or more)
Bloc 18 seats (or more)

Combined NDP & Liberal seats: about 130, versus about 155 seats for the Conservatives.

If the Conservatives manage to win their majority, the constitutional situation becomes mute. We'll have a Conservative government, full stop.

Otherwise, I fear we're into the same mess as I predicted yesterday: The other 3 parties combining to defeat the Conservatives at the first opportunity. Then the NDP and Liberals forming an informal coalition undersigned on a vote-by-vote basis by the Bloc.

I don't know if most Canadians will view such a government as legitimate. They didn't the last time the opposition parties tried it.

But here's a thought: Previously everyone's assumed the opposition would be led by the Liberals, and of course it's impossible to imagine the NDP siding with the Conservatives - party members simply wouldn't stand for it, regardless of any consideration of real politic.

But ideologically, only the left wing of the Liberal party is close to the NDP. After tonight, that left wing will cease to exist - they've all gone over to the NDP.

It may take the Liberals a while to understand their new position - and probably too long to adjust to it - but as of tonight, a Conservative - Liberal colation will make much more sense than and NDP - Liberal coalition.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My 2011 federal election crystal ball

Okay, time to put my money where my mouth is. Here’s my prediction for tomorrow’s election:

Conservatives: 136 – 154 seats. Best guess: 143 (i.e., same as before)
NDP: 64 – 73 seats. Best guess: 67 (up about 30 seats)
Liberals: 53 – 61 seats. Best guess: 56 (down about 20 seats)
The Bloc: 40 – 46 seats. Best guess: 42 (down about 5 seats)
Greens: 0 – 1 seats. Best guess: 0

Combined NDP & Liberal seats: about 125, versus about 145 seats for the Conservatives.

While, I don’t have any faith in these numbers I’ve pulled out of the air, I do expect they’ll reflect the general picture: a Conservative minority, with the NDP and Liberals not able to form an alternative government without the support of the Bloc.

I think this is bad news. A Conservative majority would be my preference. Economically, most countries are a mess – except for Canada. Our economy remains the envy of the world, and a Conservative majority would ensure continued stability.

My second choice would be a Liberal-NDP coalition with enough seats to govern without having their every move okayed by the Bloc. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen. The Liberals are headed for third or fourth place, so they won’t be leading any coalition. Worse, I don't believe the NDP and Liberals can win enough seats between them to create a majority.

So what’s going to happen? Most likely the other parties will defeat the new Conservative government at their first opportunity. Then we’ll see a minority coalition government led by the NDP (though doubtless it will be called something else, so as not to embarrass Iggy who has sworn off coalitions).

Who knows what its policies will be. The federal NDP has never had to create a platform that could actually be implemented. Ignatieff correctly called their election promises “science fiction” – at least $20 billion in increased spending supported by $17.5 billion in new taxes they won’t be able to collect.

But regardless of what the NDP would like to spend our money on, the biggest ticket item will be new goodies for Quebec. To support an NDP-Liberal coalition, the Bloc will charge a high price, and they’ll keep asking for more.

I expect that, sooner or later, the NDP-Liberal coalition will realize it can’t afford to pay more blackmail and the government will fall. Or the Bloc will refuse its support simply in order to demonstrate that Canada doesn’t work – that we can’t even create a government that lasts more than a few months. In the worst case scenario, the Bloc will pull the plug during a new referendum campaign on Quebec separating from Canada.

I hope to be proven entirely wrong in my analysis, but in my heart, I expect we’ll all be back at the polls next year.