The Value in Frequent Elections
Apr 2, 2011

The Value in Frequent Elections

Election season is upon Canadians once again and many are frustrated by the fourth election in seven years. Especially since a change of leadership seems fairly unlikely, there is a perception that this election is unnecessary, expensive and a waste of time.

It is my view that we need to take a perspective larger than the outcome of a single election and consider what the effect is on passed policies during the next period. Namely, frequent elections in a minority government is key to keeping accountability to the limited mandate given and sets acceptable policy within a narrow range.

Regardless of what Harper may himself believe, he cannot do things like remove marriage equality for gays or privatize healthcare because any step in this direction would result in an election. Indeed, the more trivial the willingness of the opposition to call an election should he go in a direction they don't like, the more tightly bound he is to the opposition (and hence majority) view. It is often considered that many of the parties are synonymous with each other, and to some extent this is true, but a large part of this is simply that a minority government cannot stray too far from the consensus provided there exists the election deterrent.

Like any good deterrent, the threat of an election is only as good as the perception that they will follow through. One has to actually call an election periodically otherwise the threat is empty. Simply by going through the process - as obnoxious as it may be - means that future policy proposals will be more tightly in line with the majority opposition view.

While it may be that realpolitik acknowledges the affirmation of the status quo this election, it is thus not without value. By confirming the relevance and importance of other parties in the political spectrum and preventing a conservative majority there is a legitimate accomplishment in changing future policies. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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1 comment:

Dylan said...

"While it may be that realpolitik acknowledges the affirmation of the status quo this election, it is thus not without value. By confirming the relevance and importance of other parties in the political spectrum and preventing a conservative majority there is a legitimate accomplishment in changing future policies."

Well said. Very, well said.

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