It is with some regret that I noticed today that the third of the three New Brunswick blogs I follow has stopped posting. Spink About It and now The Independent have both formally raised white flags, while Countering The Nanny State has been largely silent for months, with the last post early in the New Year.
I have never formally thrown in the towel and do plan to continue to post occasionally on non-political topics and on political topics I can't resist, as I have for the past while. One of those topics is elections, so expect a handful of posts over the next few weeks on the recently called Nova Scotia election.
This should be an interesting one. Barring a game-changer (certainly possible), I would almost certainly expect the NDP to win a plurality of seats. That doesn't make for a lack of excitement, however.
Does the NDP win the most seats, but not a majority? This seems most likely to me and, if so, who comes second? Logic suggests that the PCs should come second, but they only held their plurality last time thanks to favourite son Rodney MacDonald's unusually strong PC showing on Cape Breton Island. Should the Liberals hold their seats elsewhere and reclaim Cape Breton, they could come second.
Another issue is how big of a plurality will the NDP win, if at all? Their support is very heavily concentrated in the HRM, where they already hold virtually all of the seats. If their vote share continues to rise there, they'll get more and more popular votes but their seat total will remain steady. Where is their room to grow? They had some breakthroughs in rural Nova Scotia in 2006 - can they hold these and grow them? Will a likely lowering of PC support on Cape Breton break their way at all or is it all destined for the Liberals?
The other big question is, if the NDP doesn't win a majority, who will form a government? A lot of people misunderstand how our system works. Individual candidates are defeated in elections, not governments. Should the Tories win fewer seats than the NDP, they continue to be the government until they are defeated or resign. If the NDP wins a majority, by tradition the Tory government would resign. However, if the NDP wins a plurality but not a majority, the PCs would have the right to face the House and try to maintain confidence (as W.L.M. King did in 1925), something that could easily be successful either through a coalition government (done as recently as 1999 in Saskatchewan) or a confidence agreement (such as the one between the second and third party in Ontario in 1985) with the Liberals.
All of this makes for an interesting campaign, one I'll watch closely.
See also a post from a while back where I hypothesized the possibility of a Liberal government. The most recent opinion poll showed NDP 36, Lib 31, PC 30 - so anything could happen...