I can't blame the NDP for the election call
Jun 13, 2014

I can't blame the NDP for the election call

Despite being a nonpartisan lefty, during the campaign I wasn't particularly kind to the NDP. I derided the choice to call an election as a gamble that risked either a fairly horrible outcome (Hudak forming government), or a relatively small loss (slightly less influence within a majority Liberal government) for a relatively small gain (slightly more influence within a minority Liberal government). I wasn't impressed with their "small" platform. And I wasn't impressed with their strategy.

However, despite this negativity from me, at the end of the day I can't really blame the NDP for calling an election, even if I would have substantially changed their strategy. To see this, let's first ask why the NDP actually called an election.

There is almost no reason to take at face value Andrew Horwath's claim that the election was a "referendum on corruption" given that if the gas plants cancellation boondoggle was really an election worthy revelation, what changed over the last three years while the NDP supported them despite knowing about the gas plants? The older expensive boondoggles like Ornge and eHealth that get tosses around under the corruption banner were before that. This was part of the strategy and messaging, but not their actual reasons for calling an election.

I believe the animus around the election was that the NDP, in some ways legitimately, felt that the Liberals were ignoring them and governing as if they really had the extra couple seats to make it a majority. The limited compromises they got into the previous budget were not living up to the promise, and they wanted more influence than this.

NDP polling was distinctly third party and steadily so. There can have been no illusions that the NDP had a real shot to win, or that this particular moment they chose was particularly conducive to giving them a shot to win. Instead, the hope, I suspect, was that the Liberals would be reelected, but with fewer seats and with the NDP getting more of the balance of power. Maybe they could even become official opposition somehow. With that, they would be respected and heeded more, allowing their voice to make its way into government policy.

I don't necessarily think this is even bad. The NDP was going to have to face a new election soon enough when the Liberal mandate ran out regardless. There wasn't any real reason to suspect that their opportunities would get better in the future, and while it is far from the smoking gun they might wish it to be, the police investigation into the deleted emails gives a time sensitive tarnish to the Liberals. Yes, I stand behind my post that the election call was an awful risk, but the next election was going to have substantial downside risk and little upside potential for the NDP no matter when it was called.

Besides, parties are designed and built and sustained around running elections, it is in their DNA. So parties call elections even if the stars aren't perfectly aligned, it is just what they do.

What I object to is the strategy they undertook. The choices they made in establishing their platform and the choices they made in how to run their campaign, were both bad. They managed the dual effect of minimizing the potential upshot of the election, while maximizing the risk in the election. But I can't blame them for trying.

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

Share this post:

Tweet It! Facebook Add Feed Reddit! Digg It! Stumble Delicious Follow

Post a Comment

Frequent Topics: