Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keep May out

Back in 2008, I made the case for Elizabeth May to be included in the debate. This election, I hold a different view.

In 2008, the Greens had a good case to make. They were the modern day answer to Reform and the Bloc in 1993; parties that had not won seats in a general election but polled far ahead of other "fringe" parties and had a good chance of winning seats. They were included in the debates and went on to both win more than 50 seats. How much the debates influenced their electoral showing is, well, a matter for debate, but it is obvious that it helped these parties (particularly Reform) get on to more voters' radars.

In 2011, the Greens no longer can make that case. While neither of the scenarios I envisioned for the Greens after being in the debates in 2008 came to pass, the fact is that their thesis was disproven. The whole argument for the Greens to be in the debates was that they were building up impressive amounts of support with little money and public exposure. The debates would undo the bottleneck they faced allowing them to raise funds and earn votes.

It didn't happen. Their vote increased incrementally as it had for the past several elections. They had no electoral breakthrough, and really didn't do any better than they likely would have without the debate.

The more leaders you have in the leaders' debate, the less of a debate it becomes and what you get is a shouting match. I'm all for including up-and-comers to give them the chance to breakthrough. But when they get that chance and fail, let's not crowd the stage with also rans.


Eric said...

How much of that lack of a breakthrough would be attributed to the push for strategic voting by the Liberals and the NDP? Why isn't an increase of votes of 41% from the previous election considered to be a breakthrough?

Also, if May hadn't impaled herself by running in MacKay's riding, and just went with the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in the last election, it wouldn't be out of the imagination that she would have been elected. The greens would have had their breakthrough and had her face in Parliament giving the Greens some legitimacy. Thereby fulfilling scenario 1.

However, May had to be foolhardy in thinking she could unseat Peter MacKay and squandered the Green's greatest opportunity. The debate really raised her profile more than it did than party's.

If May doesn't get into this debate, it will set her party back to before the 2004 breakthrough.

nbpolitico said...

Since the Green Party first registered in 1984, they have, on average, doubled their vote in every election. That includes the high of a 433% increase in 2004 and the 33% decrease in 1993.

In 2008, the Greens increased their vote by 50%, an impressive figure but one that they exceeded in 1988, 1997, 2000 and 2004. That's why I refered to their 2008 improvement as incremental change.

I think your point reinforces my argument. Whatever the other reasons for there not being a breakthrough in 2008, the fact is that they failed to achieve what they argued the debate would let them do.