CalgaryLiberal's post about the Green Party leadership questions brought up an interesting post in my mind: what if all five major parties had to switch leaders by tomorrow? Who would replace Harper, Duceppe, or Layon, the three most consistent leaders at this point? What prospects out there could lead a party to victory or doom?
Here's my quick & painless rundown today, for NDP (the others I must do research on!). The rest shall come over the next few days.
New Democratic Party
The Dippers at the moment are riding moderately high, with what some could consider their second-best leader, after former leader and messiah Ed Broadbent. But despite the weakness of the Liberals, Layton has not made a lot of inroads. Broadbent was able to capitalize on the unpopularity of Brian Mulroney and John Turner to lead ever-so-slightly in the polls, as well being considered one of the, if not the, best leaders at the time. Layton has not, despite the unpopularity of both Harper and Dion/Ignatieff (as compared with his popularity), the latter two whom you could make the argument are even more unpopular than Turner. But, I digress; who could replace Layton?
The bearded Liberal-slayer of Outremont, Mulcair is a former provincial cabinet minister who quit because of a falling-out with Premier Jean Charest. Mulcair, always a left-leaning fellow, made the jump in 2008, running for the NDP in the former Liberal stronghold of Outremont, vacated after Jean Lapierre (of temporary ad-hoc rainbow coalition fame) decided to step down. Mulcair won a substatial victory over hand-picked Dion candidate Jocelyn Coulon, 48-29. That lead was cut down to 40-33 in 2008, and will surely be cut down even further, now that former Justice Minister and MP for Outremont, Martin Cauchon, has entered the race again.
His current role is that of Finance critic, co-Deputy Leader, and general attack dog for the NDP. With a face like that, he suits the role well.
If Layton were to leave, Muclair would be my first pick for leader. He is eloquent, he is articulate, and he brings in a crucial Quebec voting base that is key to NDP victory. The man really could do wonders for the NDP, but whether they recognize that is another story. Despite all his benefits, I consider Mulcair to be a scruffy-lookin', loud-mouth a-hole, so I wouldn't blame anyone for passing him over.
Pat Martin is the MP for Winnipeg Centre. Popular, outspoken and comfortable in his seat, Martin would bring a different air to the NDP leadership. Republican, anti-religious and a tea-snatcher, Martin has a reputation as a strong voice on quite a few issues, and could be considered somewhat of a political attack dog, much like Mulcair.
While I won't claim to know the internal politics of the federal NDP, Martin to me would seem to represent a more centre-of-the-road leader, as opposed to Mulcair. However, I don't think either Dipper would exactly send the NDP flying off into Marxist territory, so the point is generally moot.
As for others... what others? There are really no other names for the NDP you can throw out there. Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre and Foreign Affairs critic, is an interesting down-the-line candidate, but I can't see him taking the reigns after Layton. Other than him, who is there? The NDP seem to have rather random woodwork candidates, so there are probably some that I don't know about. But for the time being, Mulcair and Martin are the favourites to replace Layton, if the time ever comes.