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Every Vote is a Strategic Vote

March 29, 2011

Fellow DemReform blogger CuriosityCat has a great post today on a little tidbit that passed the lips of Jack Layton:

“The way to stop Stephen Harper from getting a majority is to take Conservative seats one by one, and defeat the MPs who are there. That’s how you stop Mr. Harper from getting a majority,”

I agree with the Cat, this is a fantastic development.

I am very happy that the NDP has brought forward the idea of strategic voting rather than parading around talking about Jack Layton becoming Prime Minister.  I argued last election that strategic voting is the only kind of voting that makes any sense, especially given our  flawed first-past-the-post voting system. This is even more true today than it was two and a half years ago.

The Greens won’t like this because while this is a call out by the NDP to Liberal voters in weak Liberal seats in BC and the prairies, it is really dropping the gauntlet on Green voters.  I sincerely hope that Elizabeth May wins her seat this election but otherwise I think everyone who sees the necessity of defeating the Conservatives needs to think strategically and vote smart.  In safe Liberal or NDP seats that means as much as possible to vote Green to help with their funding and popular support but in close seats it unfortunately means biting your tongue and going with the least worst option.

This would all be more depressing however if it results in a narrow Liberal minority win and nothing changes, dooming the Greens to no seats and continuing the travesty of the NDP getting less seats than the Bloc. The second element that is required and that we must vigilantly harangue candidates about is democratic reform and especially electoral reform. Recently Andrew Coyne committed to bugging them on just this issue, let’s be sure he lives up to that 😉

To be clear, strategic voting is not a fix to our system, it is a ‘hack’ as us programmers would say. It’s a necessary bandaid for a fundamentally broken system. A system that is bleeding worse each election as fewer and fewer voters show up to cast their vote and see it immediately wasted.  Jack Layton has taken a brave step forward today in admitting that. Hopefully he will take further steps in the campaign by making a clear commitment to requiring an investigation of electoral reform as a requirement for supporting a Liberal or Conservative minority.  Even more importantly, hopefully his brave and reasonable stance will inspire Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals to commit to fixing the democratic deficit that exists in our country which includes such outrages as: unfair elections, dangerous precedents of Senate interference and out of control Prime Ministerial power to name just a few.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. E. Dawson permalink
    March 31, 2011 8:24 am

    I received this from an unknown source, but I agree with it completely. If you agree, send it to everybody in your email list

    Mathematically, Mr. Harper can actually win a majority without having to win one more vote than he did in the last election. It all depends on how votes for opposition candidates are split.

    If the opposition parties continue to try to defeat each other, Mr. Harper could pick up seats in ridings now held by other parties just by having them split the votes more evenly. Opposition parties which target ridings already held by another opposition party or in which another opposition candidate ran a close second are feeding right into Mr. Harper’s game plan.

    On the other hand, if the voters were to vote for the strongest opposition party in each riding in the last election, Mr. Harper would be out, we would probably have a Liberal minority with the NDP picking up many seats, perhaps even official opposition status, and the Green party actually having one or two seats in Parliament. Mr. Harper would still hold many seats where the candidate had an absolute majority of the votes, but not enough to hold power.

    To me, that sounds like a pretty good outcome. Certainly a lot better that a Harper majority without having to gain much support. If we don’t get a grass roots plan going for voters unhappy with Mr. Harper, nothing will change. Too many people do not wish to see their party, Liberal, NDP or Green, destroyed. This plan helps all of them, and can be a one shot deal if it causes Mr. Harper to step down. No coalition required… just a combined action of voters for the good of the country.

    If there is anyone out there who has the where-with-all to start a grass roots internet campaign for that, I’d be happy to send support. I’d even stick a hand made sign on my lawn. The opposition parties will never do it themselves. They would be targeted by Conservative attack ads. Also, they are too focussed on their own campaigns; don’t see that they all could benefit from this, and that even more vote splitting could be VERY destructive to our democracy.

  2. April 5, 2011 11:04 am

    Check out – Burnaby South, New Westminster–Coquitlam, and Surrey North are within 1000 of Conservative majorities where the NDP won last time; if the NDP isn’t how you roll, Vancouver South and North Vancouver were within 1000 votes of Conservative majorities where the Liberals won last time.

    I’ve been helping a campaign in my riding and I’m having serious second thoughts about jumping ship and going to help in another riding where it matters more. I think we need to put time and effort and (if possible) money where it can do the most good.


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