Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quebec results and a federal election

Ok, so I'm not really an expert, by any means, in PQ politics, but I think a lot of people have been premature in trying to assess what the Liberal minority and Dumont's ascendance in PQ means. I don't think it's bad news for Harper by any stretch; that's not a plausible argument, but I don't think it's a slam dunk for him either.

There are a few reasons for this.

First, PQ doesn't really have normal electoral patterns, so taking something that fits into a typical political framework might not be the best idea. Additionally, there has been a long history in large provinces of voters expressing one sentiment provincially while countering that in a federal election, but like I said, PQ doesn't subscribe to normal patterns. What I think is the key thing to look at is that this wasn't really an election won on platform, more so on circumstances. The pequistes have been in decline and they didn't have the leader that could capitalize on the sovereignist potential that still exists; Charest is not very popular in PQ and neither is the liberal brand: I think the most telling part was when Dumont said Charest was more popular somewhere in the prairies that in Quebec. Dumont turned out to be right. There you have the circumstance, two well organized parties that people were probably a bit tired of. These parties didn't have the leadership needed to do anything special, so people went to a leader of a party that they don't really know that well. I guess the old adage of "better the devil you know" didn't really apply in this case.

As for the federal scene, Harper has a few other issues to deal with. First his views are still not that much in line with PQers. Even though they just gave mass approval to a right wing party in PQ, it wasn't due to ideology, but more in protest, so Harper shouldn't overestimate that. Harper is not a native son of PQ, that's gonna matter in the next election. As for what the other federal leaders will do, well Duceppe has to realize that where his vote will bleed it will be to the Tories, so I think he has to stop focusing on the Liberals and focus on the Tories -- something the other opposition parties don't do that well. As for Dion, yes the liberal brand needs to be repaired in PQ, but at least the big sponsorhip elephant won't be as visible in the room. Dion has potential in Quebec, not only because of his policies, but also because he is a native son. He will do well in the french debates, and if his organizers do it right, he has the opportunity to outshine Harper.

For now, it doesn't make sense to have a federal election: it's not good for any federal party, not even the Tories, especially with Danny Williams going mad! Added to that these poll numbers vary so much that there's no clear indication of what true opinion is-- not that polls are super reliable anyway. If I were the liberals I'd take all this time to get organized internally, but what do I know!

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