Tuesday, September 13, 2005

One Party Under God, Unremovable

Richard Gwyn thinks he's figured out the Canadian electorate's psyche:

Although none of the polling gurus at places like Angus-Reid or EKOS or Pollara has provided me with any new inside dope, I'm pretty sure I've got a good handle on the political preferences of a majority of Canadians. These preferences are that Canadians want the Liberals to keep winning elections but they don't want the Liberals to be forever in power.

More exactly, they don't want anyone other than the Liberals to win an election, particularly not the Conservatives, who might have a "hidden agenda." This distinctively Canadian political expression means that in power they might do something different from the Liberals.

At the same time, though, Canadians don't want the Liberals to be in power forever. This would be embarrassing. It would mean that we've become a one-party state.

The problem is that our collective wish A and wish B contradict each other.

Why not then rename all political parties Liberal, then? The Liberals could be Liberal A, the Tories Liberal B, the NDP Liberal C, etc., etc.

But instead, he offers a more ingenious solution: permanent Liberal minority government!

Now consider this possibility: We leave the Liberals permanently in power, essentially because we feel comfortable with them.

But we still must keep the Liberals on their toes by periodically scaring them with the prospect of a loss of power.

We no longer do what we did in the past though, by occasionally defeating them. Instead, we use elections to elect enough Conservatives, Bloc members, New Democrats, Greens, etc., to ensure perpetual minority governments.

As a consequence, these opposition politicians will effectively become part of the government from time to time and on specific issues.

The Liberals would become a kind of extension of the civil service, which, indeed, they just about are now. We'd rely upon the other parties for political creativity and originality.

Gwyn's solution would reduce all other political parties, elections, and Parliament to an imposture. Unlike the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, the Conservative Party would have no role in such a system, because its membership and caucus are the most adamantly opposed to forming coalitions with the Liberals. There's no place for a major alternate governing party in a system that doesn't need one.

(Yes, that's right. A Liberal-Bloc coalition is far more likely than a German-style grand coalition between us and the Liberals. The Bloc will eventually take its turn propping up the Liberals if the price is right. Adscam will not be an issue forever in Quebec.)

Under Gwyn's solution, we might as well split into two parties again that might serve as coalition partners.

No doubt the possibility of legally enshrining permanent one-party Liberal government has been raised by certain Liberal-friendly constitutional law experts under the guise of "New Democracy", as opposed to the American-style two-party "Old Democracy."

Giving people a choice is wonderful in the abstract, but in practice, they might make the wrong choice. Can't have that now, can we?

No comments: