A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Australian Coalition Government?

Just 4 months after England, the home of the parliamentary system that many commonwealth countries governance is based upon, formed a coalition government it looks like the same may happen in Australia.

“With 74.7 percent of the vote counted on a two-party preferred basis, Labor and the Liberal-National coalition were tied on 71 seats each in the 150-member House of Representatives, according to the Australian Electoral Commission as of 8:35 a.m. Seventy-six seats in the lower house are needed to form a government. The electorate also voted for 40 of the 76 seats in the upper house Senate.”

At the close of counting last night, the probable composition of the upper chamber was 35 Coalition senators, 31 Labor senators, nine Greens senators and independent Nick Xenophon.
The lower house will take some time to decide but it is clear it will be a minority government between the (conservative) coalition, labor party, greens and that a coalition government with the greens is probable.”

It is interesting to note that the Harper regime is in a minority position and yet there is no coalition government in Canada. Is that due to Harpers arrogance, the oppositions weakness or a total ignorance of how coalitions work by both the Canadian public and our political “leaders”. It is also clear that no matter when the next election may come in Canada, and despite our antiquated electoral system, it will be another minority government, whether or not whoever receives the most seats (and thats not necessarily the most votes) will seek to form a coalition or leave us forever on the brink of an election due to political “games” in the House remains to be seen.

Bottom line – As citizens show their unhappiness with the traditional governing partys, minority and coalition governments are rapidly becoming the norm within countries with various forms of parliamentary democracies. Canada is no different, the choices may not be the same, the electoral system may influence the results somewhat, many of our politicians may say they would not consider forming a coalition, but the reality is that such cooperative governance is coming to a country near you. And the sooner the better from my point of view!

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ck said...

We've already seen the reaction to Jane & Joe Canuck at Timmy Horton's to what happens when we only talk of coalitions. They react rather violently and Steve's polling numbers go up. For openers this is problematic.

The math has already been done, it just doesn't work. NDP and Liberals alone were recently projected to still only come up with a minority gov't at around 137 seats. We already know what happens if you add the Bloc Quebecois to this equation, things get a whole lot worse outside Quebec.

Besides, the sovereignty movement is slowly gaining momentum and I hazard a guess that this time around, they would have to add a referendum on sovereignty as part of their campaign platform. To join two federalist parties would be counterproductive. Duceppe has expressed no interest in embarking on the coalition express this time around.

Then, there's the NDP and the Liberals, themselves. Those two parties are far too different from each other ideologically these days. Neither are the parties of Trudeau and Broadbent of days' past. The Liberals have had move somewhat toward the right simply because the majority center (which is not mythical; they're a reality who can't be ignored), simply because Canada's center has shifted rightward.

Also, the NDP, under Jack Layton these days, seem to be playing some kind of weird game. They seem to do & say things simply to be contrary to the Liberals. Ever hear Mulcair on the tv or radio? They slam Liberals as often, if not, more than they do the Harpercons

I suspect folks in countries like Australia and Britain understand their parliamentary system better than we do. Ask your neighbour, co-worker, even a friend or family member for the hell of it: When they go vote: what is their intent when voting for an MP? Are they really picking the MP they feel is best suited to represent their riding as it's supposed to be? Or, are they voting for the MP who represents the party of their favourite leader they want to see be PM? 9/10, betcha it'll be the latter. That's one reason why they don't like coalition. Most believe Stephen Harper was the clear winner; they feel a majority did vote for him, simply because he had the most numbers. Try to change their minds.

BTW: I suspect that British coalition will fall like a house of cards sooner rather than later. Cameron has no intention of honour Clegg's demands for a referendum on electoral reform.

The Dutch are into their second month following elections of coalition talks of a minority center-right coalition, propped up by wingnut, Geert Wilders' party, which is being opposed by one of the coalition member parties. They can't agree on how to cut 18 billion euro out of their budget. Wilders even abandoned negotiations not long ago to go protest the Cordoba center. Second place Labor is not going down quietly; they could go back to polls in October if deadlock continues.

Just sayin' that coalitions are far from perfect and stable sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is the norm now. People just won't give majorities to any party, because they've been treated so badly by all of them.

Fear and attrition is how conservatives win their permanent minority. And yet neither party has spoken to the public that the electoral system itself needs reform. Until that happens, the Cons rule. It's a shame really. The Opposition(s) are so subdued one would wonder exactly what the hell is going on. I see Ignatieff today tells us about the politics of fear from the Cons, and spoke up about the gun registry. A good start, but then he lamely ended with "If you vote NDP or Green, you will give this country four more years of Stephen Harper," he claimed. Not going to work on NDP supporters when he is suppose to be the official opposition, and presents no alternative except 4 more years of Harper. He needs to push electoral reform or he's right, 4 more years of Harper. It gets very tedious to know the leaders are surrounded by insiders who are completely out of touch with Canadians. The Catch 22 Campaign is a perfect example.

Lorne said...

Given the constant timidity shown by the Liberal Party under Michael Ignatieff's leadership, I predict that the calling of the next election will fall to Stephen Harper who, of course, will choose the most propitious time, thereby minimizing the risk of even the possibility of a coalition.

As well, until the Liberals show that they stand for something other than the thirst to return to power, it is unlikely they will achieve any more support than they garnered in the last election.

Colette Amelia said...

if you think about it even when we don't have a coalition government in times like we have seen with minority governments we technically do have a coalition government...the only difference is we have a opposition who are being bullied by a dictator who panders propaganda to the political illiterate and uses fear as a weapon on the voting public...

Yes the time has come for coalitions but it will take a total overhaul of the adversarial way of doing business in order to have our elected servants working for the people not just for their own ideological power Hungry thirst for power. And we need an electorate that is not obsessed with their own petty problems and can look at the big picture to vote for positive change.