17 January 2006

Strategic Voting

According to today's Globe, "55% of Canadians would welcome a Harper majority," while according to today's Star, "the Liberals and Conservatives have drawn closer to each other." According to me, political polling should be banned during an election campaign, as it creates public opinion, rather than reflecting public opinion. The public should be allowed to make up its own opinion, thank you, one voter at a time.

But it sure seems that Canada will be having a "Brian Mulroney moment" for the next Parliament. I don't believe it will take more than one Parliament for Canadians to realize that, despite what many may think of Paul Martin specifically, Stephen Harper is unlikely to have changed sufficiently to represent the collective Canadian set of values. So now that a Conservative victory appears in the offing, the question of "strategic voting" rears up for those who would prefer not to see a Conservative government of any sort.

Traditionally, "strategic voting" meant this: If it looks like a Conservative victory, and you were going to vote NDP, vote strategically for the Liberal candidate to at least get the lesser of two evils. However, it seems as if Paul Martin is being cast as ... (take your pick of a tragic literary metaphor - the two I particularly favour are Ahab and Hamlet). It would seem that, in this case, the traditional strategic voting approach might be ripe for a reversal - if you were planning to vote Liberal, you may want to consider casting your vote for the NDP candidate. According to Jack Layton's endgame rhetoric, this would represent not settling for either evil, but rather for a positive choice. A smart move by Layton, I think, to attract the anti-Harper vote, turning the well-worn Liberal playbook back against them.
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