Monday, October 23, 2006

What If: Green Party Gains Seats, What Kind Of Change Will Happen?

Well, I personally tend to not look at the smaller parties, such as the Greens, Marxist-Leninist, Canadian Action Party, and so on as I only have so much time in the day, but an interesting post by James Bowie made me wonder: what would the effects be on Canada's political system if the Greens gained a few seats/generally became more powerful.

Well, let's look at the conventional wisdom: If the Greens became more powerful, they would attract leftists and eat away at the NDP. There are some variants, but that would basically be the gist of it. Well, today, I'm going to suggest something different.

I'll do my take by looking at the effects of a more powerful Green Party on three major national parties: NDP, Conservative, and Liberal.

NDP: According to numbers by SES Research, less New Democratic voters choose the Green Party as their second choice: 43% in 2004 to 29% in 2006. The reasons are relatively simple, I think: 1) that the NDP already has a great environmental platform at around the same quality as the Greens; and 2) The Greens are focusing on getting right wing voters, by doing things such as getting their platform approved by the Fraser Institute (I can see some great attack ads right there). Based on this information, I don't see the great migration of NDP votes to the Greens many people predict. I can see some cooperation between the NDP and Greens in Parliament, though.

Conservative: 36% of Conservative voters have the Greens as their second choice, according to the same poll. But the trick is, getting them to actually vote Green, and the thing is that Conservative supporters are relatively happy with the Conservatives (even though they may be privately not pleased about Harper's actions on the environment) and would not want to threaten that by voting Green. If Garth Turner went Green, there might be some more Conservative that would vote for the Greens, but not very much (how many people besides us bloggers know who he is?). With that being said, though, Alberta might vote in a few Greens, eating away at the Conservatives there.

Liberal: No poll numbers here. However, let's have a look at the two parties. Greens: "we are not left or right, but forward". Liberals: "we take the best from left and right". In short, both parties attempt to be centrist. Now combine that fact with a heavily fractured Liberal party. Some Liberals might want to escape that and go Green. There are other Liberals would would leave the Liberals if "leadership candidate X" got elected, since some of then might detest the Conservatives or NDP, they only choice they might have is Green. I think that the Greens could get a lot of votes from former Liberals, especially if they move further into the dumpster ("not left or right, but dumpster"?).

Overall: Looking at the fact before me, I don't really see an exodus of NDP votes going to the Greens, and I see only a few Conservatives votes; however, remember that every vote does count, and those few former New Democrats and Conservatives will help in getting seats. I see, however, that the Greens are trying to stake out centrist territory, which may attract disaffected Liberals (who will find lots to get disaffected about in the coming months) voters to go Green (this could conflict with the NDP because it is try to do the same thing). Therefore, I would say that Liberals are the next great Green growth area.

However, I don't really see the Greens becoming more powerful any time soon, to be honest.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

The Green Party gaining a seat or two would mean an even better lobby for proportional representation. I'm all for it!

James Bowie said...

Thanks for the link, dude. Shall we trade on the sidebar?

berlynn said...

I'd like to see a gender analysis of the numbers. I wonder how many women are disenfranchised from all mainstream parties and would prefer to vote for a party with a woman as leader.

Northern BC Dipper said...

Hmm, lots of comments today.

Idealistic Pragmatist: It would be interesting to see the Greens get a seat, but I really cannot see where they could get one at the present time. Greens and PR almost sounds like a chicken and egg question.

James Bowie: No problem. If by "trade on the sidebar" means putting each other's name on each other sidebar, then I'm fine with that.

Berlynn: I did not come across any numbers based on gender. However I do remeber reading that the sex of a party leader tends not to have a big effect on female voting patterns. Considering that Kim Campbell, Audrey McLaughlin, and Alexa McDonough were female leaders, I don't think there were any voting shifts based on that. I could be wrong, through.

wilson61 said...

New Decima poll came out Oct 20:
Alexander Panetta, Canadian Press

''Anderson's poll suggests 16 per cent of Tory voters, 25 per cent of Liberals, and a whopping 47 per cent of New Democrats would consider jumping ship to the Greens.''

However, I agree with your take and SES. Disappointed Libs could easily jump to the Greens.
David Orchard for sure!

Northern BC Dipper said...

The news item Wilson61 is talking about could be found here

I would argue that that poll could be a sort of blip caused by the results of the Green leadership election and media attention gathered by May.

The SES poll does not have a date, but it was pre-Elizabeth May. The Decima poll was September 8-18, 2006.

I remember that at the beginning, May was heralded as a shift to the left for the Greens (many Conservative Bloggers where disappointed). But since then, it has been revaled that May is continuing in the tradition of Jim Harris: attract the right. And that was what concerned New Democrats. Mention the Fraser Insitute thing, and a lot of those New Democrats that would support the Greens would disappear.

It would be more telling to read a similar poll a few months from now, when the media honeymoon is over (is always happens) and people know more about May.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Oh, I think there's a very good chance Elizabeth May will win her seat--not during the London byelection, but during the general election. And if Garth Turner crosses the floor, that would give them two.