Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Welcome to WildRump and Alberta's future

WildRump will retain the title of "Official Opposition" it seems.

The Wildrose party, which was originally elected with 17 members, now has 5 remaining. This ties the Liberals at 5; however, due to precedent, they will retain the title they already hold.

Speakers across the country have ruled, time and time again, that whatever titles a caucus holds, pre or post election, they are able to retain it unless overtaken. This means by dropping to 5, a tie, Wildrose will retain it's status as Official Opposition, and only should it drop to 4, or, should the Liberals rise to 6, will the Liberals overtake the party and become the Official Opposition.

So what's next for WildRump? Of their 5 MLAs, one of them (from Calgary) does not plan to run again. She is also competent and well spoken. My guess is she becomes interim leader while the party holds a leadership race. Saskiw seems well positioned to win such a race, but there is also the possibility of Aglin being welcomed back into what's left of the party, and that he may run for (and win) the leadership.

Smith will eventually get a good position, IMO, but it remains to be seen which position. Prentice says no cabinet shuffle this week; but there is nothing stopping him from calling a new throne speech and making a major shuffle in the early new year which gives Smith a key position. If Prentice has any sense to him, he'll give her some kind of position with a title to the tune of "Minister of Government Ethics" so that he can go back to the voters and tell them he's so into ethics, he had the Opposition leader come on over and do that job.

So, where does this leave everyone? I've created another map that shows the current standings in the legislature. Aglin is still shown as an Independent; as that's his status, and the 5 WildRump MLAs retain their shade of Green; however the 11 defectors (9 from today and 2 from a few weeks ago) are shown in a slightly different shade of blue from the remainder of the PC Caucus.

My personal guess for the future is as follows:

Forsyth (that WildRump Calgary MLA) becomes interim leader.
Saskiw and Aglin run for the leadership.
The results end up 51%-49%, because that seems to be the trend as of late*
Either wins, it matters little.
Prentice either does a shuffle and throne speech, or, calls an early election.
Either way, in the next election, Aglin and Saskiw are re-elected.

Why do I think these two will be re-elected? Both come from areas of the province where the average Wildrose voter is different. The "Model" Wildrose voter lives in areas of the map like District 57 and District 53, the areas held by Aglin (77) and Saskiw (65) have a different voter base. With big personalities, these two people who have already won their ridings could well manage to hold on to them even if all their other colleagues go down to defeat.

* Examples:,_2009#Results,_2014#Results,_2013#Second_ballot,_2011#Results,_2011#Results,_2003


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WildRump to remain opposition (for now)

7 Wildrose MLAs are crossing the floor, including the leader, leaving WildRump as the official opposition for the time being.

I've decided to respond to this by making a map of the party affiliations, post defection, of Alberta's MLAs.


Proportional Representation and Japan

While Wildrose figures out what it's future is, and Glenn Thibeault decides to bring Ontario provincial politics in the news, I thought I would take a step back and examine some other issues.

The final results from Japan are out. The map I posted earlier is correct and still stands, but we now have voting numbers.

I want to, in particular, examine how these numbers apply and might work under a Parallel system, such as exists in Japan.

First, lets examine the FPTP seats; IE, the seats where one person wins, and that person is whomever happens to take the most votes.

The LDP had a overwhelming victory here, with the results as follows:

48.1% - LDP - 233 seats
22.5% - DPJ - 38
13.3% - JCP - 1
8.1% - JIP - 11
1.5% - NKP - 9
1.8% - PFG - 2
1.0% - PLP - 2
2.9% - IND - 8

There is a quick and dirty way using math to estimate the seats won in a FPTP system using popular vote. This is by squaring the popular vote result. Lets just take the top 4 parties and do this.

LDP = 231361
DPJ = 50625
JCP = 17689
JIP = 6561

total: 306236

The LDP in this case has 75.5% of the "points" as noted above. The DPJ has 16.5%. With 295 FPTP seats, we simply multiply.

LDP = 223
DPJ = 48

The other parties will be off by larger numbers, but both these examples are within 10 seats of the final result.

This is a very quick and "dirty" way of doing such estimates that will generally work in any country; but be warned, this method can not properly estimate when parties have support that is spread out (JCP) or concentrated (JIP)

What I want to do here in particular, is compare the FPTP results to the Proportional results. Here are the Proportional results on their own:

33.11% - LDP - 68
18.33% - DPJ - 35
15.72% - JIP - 30
13.71% - NKP - 35
11.37% - JCP - 20
2.65% - PFG - 0
2.46% - SDP - 1
1.93% - PLP - 0

One thing that should be clear is the radically different result this is from the FPTP results. This is somewhat misleading though as it misses some important factors. Lets just examine the governing coalition.

FPTP - 49.6% - 231 seats
PR - 46.82% - 94 seats

You can clearly see from this what happened was many LDP voters in the constituencies, voted NKP in the PR list. Why? My main suspicion is it was simply a way to keep the LDP honest, to put a cap on the power the LDP could achieve alone.

I also want to note the change between FPTP and PR results for the Government, the DPJ, and JIP

-2.8% Government
-4.2% Democratic Party
-7.0% (combined)
+7.5% Innovation Party

It is clear to me that many right-win voters split their vote between the LDP and JIP, while opponents of the government split their vote between the JIP and DPJ.

It was, clearly, more common to cast a straight ballot; that is, for the same party in both local and regional races, but only ~55% appear to have cast a straight ballot.

Why this is important is that under a Parallel system, like that Japan has, this difference matters. Under a more standard MMP model, it would not matter who you vote for locally in terms of the final seat result of the parties. The only difference is exactly who the MPs are. Most people, to be blunt, care less that their MP is Bob or Joe and care more that it's a Liberal or a Conservative.


The (Wildrose) Party's Over

Its completely real, folks - the Wildrose Party, a party formed out of the perceived slights towards conservatives of the Klein era that built up its movement during the more flagrant Stelmach and Redford regimes, is about to be history, as its executive and membership will vote on merging with Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives.

According to Sun News' Rick Bell, its being called a "reunion." Its essentially like a replay of the 2002 merger of the federal PCs and the Canadian Alliance, except without any obvious reason as its clear the PCs are not in danger of losing to a left-wing party anytime soon. Supposedly the merger is happening because Prentice has agreed to a laundry list of right-wing policies, including creating more latitude for private healthcare intrusion, "parent choice" in education (read: no GSAs, more support for homeschooling, etc.), and some other things that, frankly, if Prentice never bothered to lift a finger for, no one could do anything about because he already had a majority!

Clearly the Wildrosers and their pronouncements about integrity, accountability, and change meant nothing if, in the end, they just end up assimilated back into the PC fold. I don't agree with Danielle Smith's politics, but I certainly agreed with her when she talked about the excesses of the PC government in Alberta, how its hegemonic hold on the province has, in the end, just produced a giant sense of entitlement for a government that is way past its prime. Part of the problem has been the lack of effective opposition to the PCs, until Wildrose showed up that is... but now look where they are. Good job, guys.

Well, give Prentice credit, I suppose - this is a major coup. Even if a tiny conservative caucus remained (WildRump, as my co-blogger Teddy said, which is hilarious) separate, it will be nowhere near as organized or effective as the current Wildrosers are. He has essentially killed off his main opposition with barely any effort - and lets not pretend the centre-left opposition parties are anywhere near a state called "election ready" or "effective." I have immense respect for current Alberta Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, but he is unpopular and already proven to not be up to the task of making the ALP useful. The Alberta NDP have a new leader who I think could really prove popular, but outside of a few extra ridings in Edmonton and Lethbridge, they won't be going far. The Alberta Party and Greens are minor parties whose impact will continue to be minimal, at best. Maybe this will change, but I won't hold my breath.

So, slow clap for Prentice, and a slow end to Danielle Smith's career. Amazing. Who says Alberta politics is boring.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Something going in on Alberta; Wildrose to merge with PC Party?

Nothing confirmed yet, but word from the grapevine is that Wildrose may merge with the PC Party.

I want to take a look at party standings in the Alberta Legislature first.

In the 2012 election, the results were as follows:

PC - 61
WR - 17
LB - 5
ND - 4

Between then and October 27th, 2014, many changes occurred; however, the end result, was a Legislature that was organized as follows:

PC - 61
WR - 17
LB - 5
ND - 4

Since then, two important things have happened.

First, Joe Anglin, former Green leader and Wildrose MLA, quit Wildrose to sit as an Independent.

A few weeks later, two Wildrose MLAs quit the party to sit with the PC Party.

Now, there is word that Wildrose is considering merging outright with the PC Party of Alberta.

So what does this mean?

For the PC Party
This could be something Prentice is pushing for. An official "merger" could be a chance to re-name the party from PC to just plain Conservative. A re-branding might be a good way to try to shake off past scandals. In addition, Prentice could use this as an excuse to make changes the leader would otherwise not have the power to force though. This could be a great bonus for the PC Party, as it eliminates their #1 challenger from the next election. The down-side is that the PC Party spent the entire last election telling voters to keep Wildrose out of power and out of Cabinet; and now the PC Party itself seems to be inviting them in.

For the NDP, Alberta Party, and Greens
This does not mean as much as it does for the other parties, in effect, not much changes for any of them,

For Rump-Wildrose (or WildRump)
Not all members will join. There is word that between 3 and 11 members will refuse to cross to join the PC Party, even if only 3 remain outside the newly merged party, that does give some kind of WildRump a possible change to challenge in a few ridings in the next election. WildRump does not need to take over a dozen ridings to really make it's point, a small number will keep them on the radar and keep their policies in the public debate.

For the Liberals
If one party truly stands to gain, it is the Liberal Party. The Alberta Liberals have always been rather moderate and with the PC Party seemingly moving away from this part of the political spectrum, that leaves room for the Liberals to grow. In addition, should Wildrose vanish, the Liberals will become the opposition, and, the most obvious "other" choice for Government. Those who want to see the PC Party defeated, but do not care by who, will now vote Liberal not Wildrose. This is, frankly, a great time for the party to refresh itself, and consider a possible convention and leader change.

My personal prediction is that in a month, the Alberta Legislature will look like this:

74 - PC
5 - Liberal
4 - New Democrat
3 - WildRump
1 - Green*

*possibility of Anglin joining WildRump instead.

Polls, polls, polls!

Three polls were released today from Leger, Forum, and EKOS, all except for the latter showing an increased Liberal lead compared to their previous polls. I'll run through them quickly below.

Leger Marketing - Dec. 13, 2014 - +/- 2.5%
Liberal Party: 38% (+2%) - 151 seats
Conservative Party: 32% (-1%) - 130 seats
New Democratic Party: 19% (=) - 55 seats
Green Party: 6% (-1%) - 1 seat
Bloc Québécois (QC Only): 16% (+2%) - 1 seat

The 38% for the Liberals is the highest Leger has ever given the party, but they've also shown a pretty stable number as of recent, waffling between 36-38%. The regional numbers give the Liberals leads in every region except Alberta - 38% in BC, 42% in the Prairies, 42% in Ontario, 34% in Quebec, and 57% in Atlantic Canada. I'd call that a sweep, but apparently its not enough to give the party a majority, probably thanks to strong support in Ontario for the Conservatives (36%).

Forum Research - Dec. 11, 2014 - +/- 2.0%
Liberal Party: 41% (+5%) - 177 seats
Conservative Party: 33% (=%) - 132 seats
New Democratic Party: 17% (-1%) - 27 seats
Green Party: 5% (-3%) - 1 seat
Bloc Québécois (QC Only): 14% (-3%) - 0 seats

Forum shows much better numbers for the Liberals, and absolutely terrible numbers for the New Democrats, who at 17% are probably the lowest I've seen them since 2011. Its mostly down to poor numbers in BC (20%), the Prairies (12%), and Ontario (14%), while posting 25% in Quebec. Though they're in majority territory with this poll's numbers, once again the Liberals are held back thanks to a super-strong Conservative result in Ontario (38% to 42% Liberal). If that wasn't there, you'd see the Liberals at +190 seats

EKOS Research - Dec. 15, 2014 - +/- 1.7%
Conservative Party: 30.8% (+0.6%) - 132 seats
Liberal Party: 31.8% (-1.7%) - 127 seats
New Democratic Party: 20.0% (-0.5%) - 65 seats
Bloc Québécois (QC Only): 20.9% (+5.8%) - 12 seats
Green Party: 7.8% (-1.9%) - 1 seat

EKOS breaks with its two competitors, showing the Liberals losing support and the Bloc gaining support. Quebec overall is a mess - the Liberals lead with 26.5% to the NDP's 26.3%, the Bloc's 20.9%, and the Conservative's 16.7%. Ontario and BC, the other two battlegrounds, are also fairly close.

Interesting side notes: in both Forum and Leger, the Conservatives are in third in Quebec, and in all three polls, they're up from their 2011 result of 16.5%; in all three polls, the NDP are below 20% in Ontario; and in all three polls, the Liberals lead in BC.

EKOS and Forum did approval/disapproval questions, and in both Harper has a deficit while Trudeau and Mulcair have more positive reviews than negative ones. Leger did a Best PM question, where Trudeau leads with 27% to 24% for Harper and 16% for Mulcair. In all three polls, some stark trends: Alberta is the only place that approves of Harper, while Mulcair is more popular than Trudeau in Quebec... not that it seems to matter for the latter.

Finally, EKOS asked an interesting question - would you approve of a coalition government of Liberals and New Democrats, specifically led by Justin Trudeau, in a situation where the Conservatives have enough to form a minority government. The numbers given in the chart for this are 60% in support of a coalition to 40% for a Conservative government. It'd be nice to see further numbers on this, but I think EKOS mucked up their data below because they don't show it where they say its supposed to be, instead its another right/wrong direction question.

We're not facing a situation where the reality of a coalition is so in-your-face like it was back in 2008/2009, with Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe sitting at a table, smiling, so I think any support shown here can turn on a dime pretty darn quickly. Don't read too much into it, though I will say that without the Bloc in the mix, any coalition would be a lot more feasible in the future.

More Japan results

I've created a results map, using more "Canadian" party colours. This is adapted from the Wikipedia map on the Japan election page.

The LDP is shown in Conservative Blue, while the DPJ has been assigned Liberal Red. The JIP has Reform-Alliance Green, while I've assigned NDP Orange to the JCP to represent it's role as Japan's largest "Left" party. Komeito, with no Canadian equal, was assigned a light purple, a colour not used by any Canadian political parties.

Region by Region, the vote results are as follows:

LDP - 29.8%
DPJ - 27.6%
NKP - 12.3%
JCP - 12.1%
JIP - 9.9%

LDP - 32.9%
DPJ - 22.5%
JIP - 13.0%
NKP - 11.2%
JCP - 9.9%

North Kanto
LDP - 34.6%
DPJ - 17.8%
NKP - 14.7%
JIP - 13.9%
JCP - 11.7%

South Kanto
LDP - 34.0%
DPJ - 17.6%
JIP - 15.4%
NKP - 12.8%
JCP - 11.9%

LDP - 32.1%
DPJ - 16.3%
JCP - 15.4%
JIP - 14.2%
NKP - 12.1%

Hokuriku Shin-Etsu
LDP - 36.1%
DPJ - 22.2%
JIP - 13.9%
JCP - 10.1%
NKP - 9.4%

LDP - 33.3%
DPJ - 23.1%
JIP - 15.0%
NKP - 12.5%
JCP - 9.6%

LDP - 28.9%
JIP - 26.1%
NKP - 14.6%
JCP - 12.8%
DPJ - 12.4%

LDP - 38.2%
DPJ - 17.1%
NKP - 16.7%
JIP - 12.7%
JCP - 9.2%

JDP - 34.9%
DPJ - 20.8%
NKP - 15.8%
JIP - 12.8%
JCP - 10.1% (no seats)

LDP - 34.3%
NKP - 17.7%
DPJ - 16.2%
JIP - 13.0%
JCP - 9.1%
SDP - 5.3% (one seat)

All in all, the Coalition managed between 40% and 60% vote in each region.