(Another) Conservative Minority

Stephen Harper’s early election gamble managed to pretty much crush the Liberals, but it didn’t quite win him the majority he was seeking:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were preparing to return to Ottawa after winning a strengthened mandate in a general election Tuesday that resulted in Canada’s third consecutive minority government.

“Canadians have voted to move our country forward and they have done so with confidence,” Harper told a rally in Calgary as supporters celebrated the party’s victory and the end of a tumultuous — and at times rancorous — 37-day campaign.

As of early Wednesday with almost 60 per cent of votes counted, the Conservatives were elected or leading in 143 ridings, up from 127 in 2006, while the Liberals were elected or leading in 76, a drop of 19 seats from the party’s standing at dissolution.

The analysts were divided on whether to call this story a success from any front. For the Liberals, it was a definite failure, with Dion’s leadership coming under real scrutiny after his party dropped so many seats. The NDP gained seats, but Jack Layton isn’t the Prime Minister, nor did he even come close. The Green Party managed to increase their popular vote, polling at upwards of 6%, and yet again failed to attain a single seat in the election. And the Conservatives won, with increased power, but they failed to gain full control of their parliament, and another issue reared its head late in the evening:

But with just under 60 per cent of the votes counted at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday, turnout hovered around 59 per cent. That figure was slightly below the lowest turnout recorded in 2004 at 60.9 per cent when Paul Martin’s Liberals won a minority government.

Only two years ago, 64.7 per cent of Canadians went to the polls, also giving Stephen Harper’s Conservatives a minority government.

As the CBC commentors noted, this election seems to have utterly failed to capture the Canadian imagination. One analyst pointed out that it seemed to be a big turning point when the Canadian leaders were asked about the Economic Crisis, and all of them failed to lend any inspirational words to the matter. Harper’s position — the least drastic — was ultimately good enough to get him a minority but lose him the majority he was oh-so-close to around the time that the crisis sprung up.

In fact, the irony of the situation is that the only party that could really come away happy after this election were the Bloc Quebecois, who managed to gain around two thirds of the Quebec seats. This, despite the fact that both the Liberals and Conservatives were dead set on undermining the Bloc in order to gain seats outside of their normal strongholds.

The next three or four years will be telling. Will Harper manage to reconcile some of his differences with the smaller parties? Will it be another round of politics without a cause? Or will Harper finally reveal to the nation what he intends for the country, rather than playing his hand tight to his chest in his chronic damage-control mode?

Seems to me that we’ve been here before.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. juggling mother
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 12:31:40

    It seems you guys are in for more of the same:)

    I’m amazed at 50 Quebecois seats tho – I didn’t realise it was so many!

    i did feel sorry for him losing points because Canada is not in the “global financial turmoil” (The BBC’s phrase of the day today) – as the leader in place he should have been able to cash in on that one.

    Mostly the whole election seems to have passed by without much interest – abroad or in Canada really!

    Reply

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