Thursday, February 09, 2017

Alberta PC + Wildrose Votes ≠ Victory

It is the confidently stated certainty of right wing Albertans that the NDPs win in 2015 was a PC collapse fluke and will not be repeated.  That a protest vote spiraled, the result wasn't what people expected and it couldn't happen again.

Which rewrites what we all remember, a surging leading NDP from the moment the leaders debate ended, until an election day result that had become a clear certainty for weeks before it happened.

Albertans knew full well exactly what they were doing.

The shred of hope the Albertan right clings to, is the belief that if they could just merge the two right wing parties their combined vote would drive the socialist heathens from the temple and God would be back in his Heaven and 'all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'

It's not much of a hope.

There's reasons the right wing movement in Alberta fractured into two different parties, just as it did federally back in the 80s and 90s.  Those reasons, which largely boil down to rising right wing extremism in the North American conservative movement, have not gone away.  They have not been resolved.  They have not eased, to the contrary they are more raw and inflamed than ever.  The conservative movement has become captive to an extremism that is both a reactionary response to massive demographic progressive cultural change and an accelerant for that same change.

Assuming it is even possible that the two parties could merge into one vehicle - by no means a certainty even if Kenny's takeover of the PCs is at this point - that vehicle will be instantly compromised.

The unavoidable bedrock certainty is that either Wildrose voters abandon an entity they consider too moderate or PC voters one that seems too extreme. The only choice is where to take the electoral bullet, in the heart or in the head.

If the PCs and Wildrose merge a big chunk of their own right and moderate wings memberships immediately decamp to either new or existing right wing or moderate parties.  They will be, pardon the imagery, bleeding from both ends.  Wildrose extremism doesn't play in the cities, PC social liberalism, such as it is, is unacceptable to the Wildrose base.  This is the same unyielding iceberg right wing hopes in Alberta are sailing for at top speed that they were in 2015.

Could the NDP lose the next election?  Certainly, anything is possible and this is a diverse province made up of diverse interests.  Is monolithic right wing dominance returning for another generation?  Almost certainly not.  The demographics simply make that impossible.

The NDP is now and forever the progressive voting option for Albertans and a choice they will pick again if not this election than the one after that or the one after that.  Conservatives will come back to power in Alberta some day but likely not until the constantly changing demographics of both urban and rural Alberta blunt the power of the extremists sufficiently to return a moderate conservative option to the fore.

Until then the conservative True Believers are the permanent wall between the movement and power.

1 comment:

b_nichol said...

I have a hard time disagreeing with any of your post: the notion that all WRers and PCers would unite under a single banner under the auspices of simply defeating the NDP seems rather simplistic, given the results of the last two elections.
I’m entirely baffled by the actions of the PCAA, a party that for years knew that they had to build the ‘big tent’ in order to govern. By ceding the centre (and I really hate that linear description of politics) to the NDs in choosing Kenney, they assume that that have to move further right into the realm already occupied by the Wildrose. Yet we know from experience that WRP support has a ceiling (more so since Ms Smith and her colleagues left the increasingly extremist party), and there is little room to expand. A post-election analysis in 2015 (I think it was concluded that most WR supporters would never vote PC (at the time), and that the reverse was the same for PC supporters. If that holds true next election then voters will stay at home or more likely, under a unified party or as separate entities, the law of diminishing returns actually produces diminished returns. As your post title suggests, 27.8% + 24.2% ≠ 52%
Finally, I can’t help but notice the parallels between the WRP and the 2010 US midterm elections at the height of the Tea Party movement. Immediately after the election, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell declared that his party’s only obligation was to ensure that Obama became a one-term president. In Alberta, we see the same thing: only the defeat of the NDs matters; no policy announcements, no white papers, not even an opposition budget nearly two years into the current administration. Like the 2015 election campaign, all the WR has to offer is to slash spending and employment, and “not raise taxes”.

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