Koizumi Yukon: Canadian General Election 2011

Yesterday was the 41st Canadian General Election to elect members to the House of Commons of Canada in which the conservative government won what I would call a Koizumi-esque victory. The election saw a number of historical firsts, and may mark a turning point in Canadian political history.

The results for each of the main four parties were as follows:

    1. The centre-right Conservative Party won a clear victory, and it moved from its precarious position of a minority party leading the government to a majority government.
    1. The Liberal Party was wiped out and won the fewest seats in their history. Former academic and party leader Michael Ignatieff was defeated in his own electorial district.
    1. The separatist Bloc Québécois, which had always won a majority of seats in Quebec in every election since its founding in 1991, lost nearly all their seats, including the seat of their leader Gilles Duceppe.
    1. The leftist New Democratic Party saw a major surge in the last weeks of the campaign won the largest number of seats in their history, including a large majority of seats in Quebec.
  • Whereas previously elections in Canada were formed around the Conservatives and the Liberals, with Bloc Québécois as an interesting third-party spoiler, we now see a realignment between a genuine centre-right party (the Conservatives were created after the Progressive Conservative Party merged with another centre-right party in 2003) and the New Democrats taking their position as leading opposition party.

    I call the victory of the conservatives “Koizumi-esque” because the election only came about the PM asked the Governor General to dissolve the house after the House of Commons passed a motion of non-confidence against the government, led by the Liberals. This non-confidence motion affirmed the charge of “contempt of parliament” found by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs — the first time in the history of any Commonwealth nation that a government was found in contempt of parliament. Notwithstanding this charge, the popular vote was clear, and the Conservatives now have a solid majority from which to govern.

    About Curzon

    Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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    5 Responses to Koizumi Yukon: Canadian General Election 2011

    1. bdawg says:

      While the Liberals had been bleeding their left side to the NDP for some time, I believe many, many jumped over to the Blue ship at the last minute. The prospect of PM Layton was just too much for many of them (understandably). There now appears a definite lack of center now in Canadian politics (IMHO) as I don’t believe either Harper or Layton is capable of moving toward the center to fill the Liberal void. I feel like a bit of an political orphan right now. Still interesting election…shame it didn’t increasing the popular vote very much. It probably can’t get much more exciting and we only managed a 61% turnout. That is less than Iraq.

    2. Eddie says:

      Bdawg notes the absence of a center party of influence at this point. The Liberals have options, though this requires them to correctly parse the lessons of defeat. The Conservatives and NDP are not monolithic parties by any means, especially as Harper’s calculated compromises are departures from his right-wing base that may trigger dissent and turmoil.
      In reality though, I agree with the point of this author, who considers the necessity of center-left unity amongst the NDP and Liberals as the only way to represent a credible opposition to the Conservatives.

      Also for the naysayers proclaiming dark days ahead for Canada, how extreme are the differences of the left and right in the grand scheme of national purpose, vision, etc? Are they as extreme as those in the US? I would say they are not, and that means this alleged conservative victory (not as conservative as a mandate from the populace to be a center-right party) and centrist collapse is not as monumental or epochal as it seems.

    3. Albert says:

      I don’t see the conservatives as a “centre right” party- at least not harper himself. That is definitely very far right politically, as evidenced by speeches he’s given and the majority of his policy decisions. A party that compromises to gain centre right votes, perhaps.

    4. Rajan says:

      What is so far right about the Conservative party? Have you read their platform?
      Is it their commitment to support universal healthcare? Is it their refusal to touch the abortion issue, even with a ten foot pole? Is it their support of stimulus spending? Is it their commitment to pull out of Afghanistan? Perhaps, they’re far right because they have increased immigration levels to the highest in Canadian history.

    5. Inquisitive Officer says:

      What will be interesting to see is this sort of resolution of hung parliaments in favor of a conservative majority plays itself out similarly in New Zealand in November. If opinion polls are correct, we could be looking at a National majority government-the first since MMP was introduced. Seeing as the Nationals won 44% of the vote in 2008 and are now polling around 8 points higher and they received only three seats short of a majority in 2008, its definitely within the realm of possibility. The implications for the possible change away from MMP would be enormous should the Nationals get a majority in a system (partially) designed to prevent them.

      One also wonders about Australia, with Gillard’s approval ratings in the toilet, Abbott finally pulling ahead and the Labor government’s precarious situation of depending on several disgruntled independents from rural areas for its survival…