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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.