Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More on the Left/Right Debate

Let's assume that people like LT are most concerned with a progressive Canadian government, i.e. they want the Conservatives out of power. Let's also assume that, at least to some degree, a leftward lurch in the Liberal party will cause some right-wing voters to move to the Conservatives. It doesn't have to happen on a 1 to 1 basis, but let's suppose it happens at all.

What that means is, for every bit the Liberal Party moves to the left, it drives a voter away from a party with a progressive agenda over to one with a right-wing agenda. Why do we want that? I would put it that we don't. At all.

Let's look back at those charts from below. Just to debate the grounds on terms generous to LT instead of neutral grounds, we'll use the second scenario proposed below, where, for every 1% the party moves to the left, the party loses 0.5% of the vote to the right.

Scenario 2: Leftward Gain Twice as Fast as Rightward Loss

Liberal Deviation Liberal Seats Conservative Seats NDP Seats
-10 102 117 14
-9 101 116 16
-8 101 116 16
-7 100 116 17
-6 100 116 17
-5 98 116 19
-4 97 116 20
-3 93 115 24
-2 93 115 25
-1 91 115 27
0 90 114 29
1 90 114 29
2 89 114 30
3 87 114 32
4 83 112 38
5 82 111 40
6 82 106 45
7 79 102 52
8 79 100 53
9 78 100 55
10 77 96 56

If what you want to do is prevent a government from pushing through a right-wing agenda, ought the goal not be to maximize the number of progressive legislators? Moving the Liberal party to the left will not help this.

Currently, the progressive parties (the Liberals and the NDP) have 119 seats between them (as always, in ROC). Suppose the Liberals move the equivalent of 5% to the left. This will increase the number of seats the Liberals have, but it will hurt the NDP so much that they will only have 117 seats between them. Moreover, the number of Conservative seats will have jumped from 114 to 116 in that case.

Suppose, on the other hand, the Liberals move to the right, primarily by continuing to advocate a progressive social agenda which at the same time being the party of fiscal restraint and thus attracting more support from business groups. Suppose the Liberals move 5% to the right. Then, in this restrictive scenario, even though the Liberals lose a few seats, progressive parties on the whole jump up to 122 seats, while the Conservatives fall to 111. Parties with a progressive social agenda will then have more seats than those without.

And that's just in this situation favourable to LT. I'm convinced that the situation is much closer to 1 to 1, and one needs only look at scenario 1 below to see how much better that situation is for progressive parties.

Some might respond, well sure, there will be more progressive parties in parliament, but the Conservatives might still be the single largest party. First of all, I don't think that that will always be the case, and it simply isn't in the 1 to 1 scenario. Moreover, having more progressive MPs, be they Liberal or NDP, means that those social initiatives which truly offend progressive sensibilities will be blocked. It might mean the Conservatives hold the government, but they will hold a government which is powerless to undertake the very actions which Lobster Thermidor and others fear it will.


Post a Comment

<< Home