The effect on strategic voting of Wynne ruling out a coalition
Jun 9, 2014

The effect on strategic voting of Wynne ruling out a coalition

Unfortunately, for those of us who think that some form of Liberal-NDP election deal or coalition would be vastly superior to the PCs forming a government with the largest minority, Kathleen Wynne has said that she won't form a coalition with the NDP. Unsurprisingly, as this move changes the possible outcomes, it also has an effect on strategic voting.

For most ridings, this has little effect. Either the riding is "safe"  with the outcome largely determined. In this situation one can vote for any number of different reasons but doing it explicitly to strategically prevent the PCs from winning need not be among that list. Or, in the closer races between the PCs and the OLP, there is still pressure to vote OLP strategically to prevent the PCs.

The main effect this has is on ridings that are close between the NDP and the Liberals. If a coalition was possible, flipping a seat from OLP to NDP wouldn't matter too much. If the PCs got a majority, it wouldn't change things one way or the other. Even if that was the key seat that meant the PCs moved to the largest minority because of it, if the OLP and NDP were going to work together in minority situations anyways it wouldn't make much of a difference. If it was one of the key seats (such as it was in 2011) that just prevented the OLP from making a majority, the relative similarities between the current OLP and NDP plans would mean this wasn't too significant.

By ruling out the coalitions, however, there is a much greater chance that this will be relevant. Flipping a seat from OLP to NDP now reduces by one the number of seats Hudak has to win. If it were the key vote that took the PCs up to the largest minority, that loss of an OLP seat would meant Hudak would win government.

Personally, I am not willing to take that risk. Hudak's plan is far to far to the right to risk him winning out of hopes that the small benefits of the NDP plan over the OLP plan (such as the 1% corporate tax cut or tuition freeze) get increased influence by having one extra NDP member elected. I actually would probably prefer it if the OLP only won a minority and had to work with the NDP. But it is simply too risky, as was this entire election for the NDP.

Why does Wynne does this?
Ruling out coalitions is an appeal to centre-right voters. Many voters still have the false view that the NDP are crazed far left socialists, opposed to the much more modern, pragmatist centre-left moderates they now are. These voters could conceivably vote for the Liberals, but would abhor the possibility of a dreaded Liberal-NDP coalition, much how there was backlash when this happened at the federal level.

It is a huge gamble for Wynne, however. The hope is that you can pick up a few percentage point of people because of this. Maybe she can. But she does it at the risk that the dreaded situation of the PCs getting the largest minority actually happens. Then the promise - uttered for small electoral gain - translates into flipping from a much more desirable Liberal-NDP government to the PCs. 

Parkdale-Highpark riding:
My riding - Parkdale-Highpark - is a very left wing riding. It has flipped, both provincially and federally, between the NDP and the Liberals over the last decade and currently has NDP incumbents at both levels. The races between the NDP and the Liberals are often close and the Conservative/PC choices don't have any real shot.

That is, it is exactly the type of riding where this has an effect for strategic voting.  I definitely support my local MPP - Cheri DiNovo - who is on the left flank of the NDP and has done great work with things like Toby's law and advocacy for electric trains, and the like. She is a great person to have in parliament. I voted for her in 2011. However, I can't vote for her this time round. The risk of the PCs is just too big. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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Anonymous said...

I would disagree with your assertion that "many voters falsely view the NDP as socialists". Agreed, they are not viewed as far-left crazies anymore, and yes, the NDP seems to have a much better sense of the financial side of the economy, but there are a great many centre/left Liberals who would have no problem voting NDP, but as long as the NDP remains a full fledged member of Socialist International, they will never get those votes, (which could arguably be enough to put them over the top). Over the years, socialist governments around the world have proven time and time again, that while socialism sounds good in theory, it inevitably fails because they run out of other peoples money. So for that lingering reason alone, the NDP's membership in Socialist International may satisfy those few remaining in the "far-left crazy" wing of the party, but alienates many more voters who would vote for them otherwise, simply because it still tags the NDP as being socialist.

bazie said...

While it is true that they still have a few of those old trappings, like the Socialist International membership, the kinds of policies that have been advanced in the Layton era, and even more so in the Mulcair era, are far from socialism. Mulcair is more a "read my lips, no new taxes" style moderate. Those old trappings undoubtably do still alienate various voters - perhaps yourself included - but they are no longer the main thrust of the party.

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