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03 May 2011 @ 05:28 am
For my Canadian readers  

forthright looks for some silver linings in the election results.

Everything I know about Canadian politics, I learned from LiveJournal; I confess I'm only grasping a fraction of what's going on up there.* I do know that I read (and am read) by a lot of people in the GWNE who don't read each OTHER, so one thing I CAN contribute is CONNECTION.

*Here's the fraction I do grasp, as well as I grasp it: new Lefty party caused a split in the votes, and some weird distortion of proportional Parliamentary procedure called "first past the post" has turned that into a Conservative majority. A "Canadian Politics For Unitistatians and Other Dummies" would be greatly appreciated.
Pyatpyat on May 3rd, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
Not a new lefty party - the NDP have been around since 1961, and were preceded by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation of the 30s and 40s, which formed the first socialist government in North America.

The NDP are pretty well established. They were the constant third or fourth place guys, who managed to be very influential and win seats in every election. Tommy Douglas, perhaps the most revered Canadian politician, was NDP and CCF. And he is eminently readable:

The Weasel Kingtheweaselking on May 3rd, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
"First Past The Post" is a voting rule. It's the same one you guys use in the US: The person with the most votes on the first count gets the seat. In the US, this means that you have two parties and only two parties, and that any third party by definition tanks it's own side by siphoning votes from the nearer party and allowing the further party to win.

In Canada, we have the same thing, but with 3-5 parties. So what happens is that you have races that go "33% Republican, 32% Democrat, 30% Green Party" and give the Republican the seat because the non-Republican vote is split.

What this means is that a lot of the time, a majority government can be formed out of a minority with a 1% change in support, because the shifting support of the other parties leads to picking up seats. If the vote in a riding was 40% BQ, 30% CPC, 20% Lib, 10% NDP before, and now it's 30% CPC, 25% NDP, 25% BQ, 20% Lib? The CPC just gained a seat without gaining a single vote, and with 70% of the voters voting against them.

As far as Canadian Politics For Unitistanis:

Okay, first: We don't vote for the Prime Minister the way you vote for the President. Instead, we vote *only* for our local Member Of Parliament, who is the equivalent of your Congresscreature. The Prime Minister is the MP who has the largest bloc of other MPs following him and voting with him. If the US worked the way we do, the House Leader would become President.

A "majority government" is one where your bloc controls more than 50% of the seats, total, and thus can pass anything it wants. This is the default in the USA, where one side or another controls Congress by having more seats.

A "minority government" is when the largest block is still not a majority - in order to pass a law, you MUST have the support of at least some of the people outside your party. Imagine a US Senate with 48 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 3 Independents. It takes 50 votes to pass something, so neither the Republicans nor the Democrats can get anything done unless someone from the other party, or an Independent, sides with them. That's a minority government.

A "Coalition Government" is when multiple parties band together to form a bloc large enough to make a government. For example, in 2008 Stephen Harper controlled the largest single group of seats, but Layton, Dion, and Duceppe *combined* outnumbered him, so they signed an agreement to work together and have Dion now control the largest block. Of course, what HAPPENED is that Harper immediately closed Parliament so they couldn't file the paperwork, provoked a constitutional crisis rather than leave office, and waited for Rae and Ignatieff to go all Ides Of March on Dion.
Terminotaur: yeeeessssssssterminotaur on May 3rd, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I would point to what theweaselking said, as its pretty good.

For a less serious but pretty accurate primer there is this video:

I would make the note that federally we just vote for an MP (as mentioned). Votes are passed with a majority vote of the House of Commons. There is a Senate that can hold things up but the Prime Minister can appoint people to it at will. This means that other than the Supreme Court, there is no effective check on power of a majority government. The one positive thing I can say about that is that if a party wins majority and wants to keep it next time they have to moderate themselves, because they OWN the results of anything they pass. None of this passing something for political points that you know another branch will shoot down, or blaming everything that's wrong on the one branch you don't control. Though I suppose you could pass something you know the courts will say no to when it comes up (there are ways even around that in cases: ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/cdngovernment/notwithstanding.html ).

Splitting of votes on the left is not a new thing (as mentioned, the NDP has been around quite a while now), but at the same time a lot of people in the political "middle" here will most likely oscillate between Conservative and Liberal parties. Until a few years ago there was right-wing vote splitting too.

Another note: Gerrymandering is much less of a problem here, with boundaries for federal ridings set up by a neutral independent body. There are a few exceptions, like where I live where there was public consultation, and the city was broken into 4 ridings each with a large rural component ensuring it all went Conservative despite a strong NDP vote in the city (I suspect the meetings were stacked, but that's just me).
Itisme: disgracenewwaytowrite on May 3rd, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
As much as I can
agree with most of his comments I still feel that we are about to feel even more separated from what I want Canada to be with a fear mongering bully for a leader. I feel that in many respects this is the beginning of a polarizing of my country.

The thought that a fully tuned Liberal would be more willingly to vote for thoughtless cold cack rather than the NDP with some thought for social justice and something other than business profit is some weird kind of liberal in my mind.

I take great joy in knowing that the PM will have to look across the floor of Parliament and have the NDP in his view after demonizing them. I hope it unsettles his intestinal lining.
KehzaFox: pleasedkfops on May 4th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
The link to forthright's journal is somewhat how I reconciled the whole event with myself this morning. It's nice to seem similar thoughts... thanks for that!

I will now return to my all time favourite priority... puppies!