As the Fall session in the BC Legislature comes to an end this week, MLA’s will be going back to their ridings to meet with their constituents and host various Christmas and Holiday celebrations back home. If I were a betting man, I would confidently say that BC Liberal MLAs should expect to be asked by their supporters and constituents over a glass of eggnog: “Exactly how long do you expect the GreeNDP Alliance to hold together?”
My take on the situation…
For starters, we know that among several other “interesting” pieces of legislation introduced during this Fall session, the NDP have introduced a Bill that will have voters decide on the future of how democracy works in British Columbia. The Bill introduced in October sets out the details for a provincial referendum on the implementation of Proportional Representation (PR). In layman’s terms, and without complicating the issue more than necessary, PR allows voters to elect a number of MLAs from a particular party that corresponds with that party’s share the popular vote.
The Green Party has been a major champion of democratic reform for years, and the agreed mutual pursuit of PR has been the primary policy item at the centre of their GreeNDP’s cooperative relationship thus far. The unbelievable naivety of the Green Party, however, will be their downfall, and the eventuality of an election where the Greens will be trounced by the NDP is inevitable. Here’s why:
While the pursuit of PR has functioned as a bargaining chip, and has allowed the NDP to form government by being propped up by Andrew Weaver and his two colleagues, the implementation of PR actually works directly against the interests of the BC NDP, and they are fully aware. Under PR, the NDP would never form another majority government. In fact, it’s hard to believe that any official party would be able to.
Under such a system, Greens would arguably garner 20% of the popular vote, as could BC Conservatives if they were to rebrand themselves appropriately, because it would virtually signal the end of Strategic Voting, which means voting just to keep someone out of office as opposed to voting for those with which you’re most politically aligned. By it’s very nature, and as we’ve seen in other countries with similar voting systems, PR produces endless coalition governments (instead of coalition parties), and is one of the major reasons to avoid it altogether.
The trouble with the government’s plan to implement PR is that they know it will keep them from ever forming a majority government, making it a complete facade meant only to bind the GreeNDP Alliance long enough for the NDP to make a power play. Make no mistake, the NDP will promise to pursue the idea of PR long enough to be able to maximize their chances in the next election, but they will trigger the election when they are good and ready. Here’s how it will play out:
The NDP has set the date for the referendum on PR to coincide with the next Municipal elections in November 2018. That gives the NDP a year from now to be able to strategically spend as much of the $2.5 billion dollar surplus as possible in a number of ridings that are vital to a NDP majority government. With 41 seats, the NDP require three more to form a majority. Of those three, two of those needed are on Vancouver Island and are currently represented by fresh-faced Green Party MLAs and were both previously held by the NDP. The other seat will come from one of the ridings on the mainland that were narrowly lost. With that said, there should be no doubt that the NDP will be working to reclaim both of the new Vancouver Island seats back from the Greens.
This time next year, the NDP’s strategic spending and tactical communications programs in the ridings that are key to their majority will result in favourable polling for the NDP exactly where they need it. From there, all that will be left is to force the Green Party to trigger the election. Why not call an election themselves you ask? The reason, historically, is that parties and governments that force early elections are normally punished by voters, and are often returned with fewer seats than when they began. Thus, the NDP will need a scapegoat.
That is why the NDP plans to fumble how they handle the province’s response on the referendum for PR next year. It will be an absolute deal breaker for the Green Party, they will feel betrayed, and it will ultimately force their hand to vote against the government’s measures on how to proceed with PR, which will be put to a confidence vote. This will cause the Greens to be responsible for breaking the Alliance, forcing the next election, and they will bear the blame for doing so.
This gives the NDP government a year to spend as much money as possible in the most vital ridings to their future majority before the Legislature’s Christmas Break in 2018 – which will ultimately result in a January/February confidence vote following the purposeful mishandling of the response on the referendum. When that happens, the NDP will conveniently be able to blame the Greens for causing the next election, and they will go after their seats in an attempt to finally form their long sought majority.
Just remember that you heard it here first.