The 2011 Election was worthy of note because it created so many new endings. Lots changed on May 2.
Yet, some things didn’t. Despite the best polling and computer simulations, nobody predicted that Stephen Harper would end up with a Majority Government. Early on in the CTV Election Coverage, their computer statistics expert claimed that there was only a 10% chance the Conservatives would win a majority government. They were wrong and its because they make a fundamental mistake in understanding our electoral system.
Each electoral district is its own election. We vote at the same time, but we don’t vote together. So that’s why it does not really matter whether there are national trends because those trends don’t carry over to each riding perfectly. In each riding there is a unique dynamic of vote splitting, strategic voting, and democratic culture that cannot be easily predicted. This is what allowed the Conservatives to win a majority despite winning less than 40% of the popular vote. Its how our system works. It appears to be unfair, yet I think those who complain about it are not going to find any satisfaction soon.
This election marked the end of fair vote movement momentum. Vote reformers (BTW. I used to be one of them) will talk about how this electoral result is wrong and unfair, and in a sense they are right, but this election proved that our plurality system does not discriminate. Yes, it does distort the results, and votes are wasted, but it does so for all parties. It happened for the benefit of the Liberal party in 1997 and now it worked for the Conservatives. The fair vote movement has suffered failed referendums in three different provinces in the past four years. The Conservatives will not entertain the notion and I am pretty sure the NDP having tasted Official Opposition status will not be too interested.
This election has brought about the end of politics as we know it. The New Democratic Party revitalized the electoral landscape by replacing the Liberals and almost completely snuffing out the Bloc Quebecois. While I am not a fan of NDP policy, I personally appreciated their positive message and their ability to dispatch the pesky BQ. It is the first time ever that the NDP are the Official Opposition and we will now see a traditional political alignment like the rest of the modern world where a Conservative Party competes with a Labor-based party.
This election will bring about the end of the Liberal Party. I am almost certain that they will not recover. To do so would require that the Liberals do absolutely everything right (such find an new charismatic leader, bring back their brain trust, and get grassroots donations to replace all of the corporate donations they used to have) plus need everything to go wrong for the Conservatives and NDP. The chance of both self-destructing is unlikely to happen. It was the hubris of the Jean Chretein and Paul Martin legacy and their ongoing battle that has devastated that party, forcing most of its organizational leadership to leave a sinking ship. When Harper changes the political party electoral financing rules (he was forced to back track during his last attempt as a minority government) he will put the final nail in the coffin of the Liberal Party, choking off their donations.
I am not a nationalistic person. I don’t really have a problem with Quebec or any other province exerting their autonomy but the BQ was so disingenuous continuing to run at the federal level, receiving money from the rest of Canada so they can use the specter of separation to get more for their province. It really annoyed me. They were a virus whose time it was to expire. Good riddance.
This election is the end of the Green Party seat shutout. The Greens wisely sunk all of their resources in Elizabeth May’s electoral race in order to get her elected. Whether her seat will act as a beachhead to expand the size of that party in Ottawa will need to play itself out, but it will be interesting to see.
Finally, this election has brought an end of boredom. The 2011 election with which few wanted ended up giving us a new political landscape and it will make politics interesting to watch again.