2010's election season has not been very kind to Canada's perennial third-party, the New Democrats. They failed to win a seat in New Brunswick, have fallen behind in by-elections in provinces where they're either the government or the main Opposition, and in polls have been mired between 14-16%. Even municipally, where there exists no actual parties in name as there is federally and provincially, they're running up against walls.
For example, in Toronto, the NDP's standard-bearer, Joe Pantalone, the candidate who was to continue on the NDP-backed David Miller's agenda, managed to come in a paltry third, after the two front-runners, a former Liberal cabinet minister and a conservative City Councillor, squeezed away his vote.
In Calgary, the NDP-backed candidate, Bob Hawkesworth, managed a very poor showing in every poll, and eventually dropped out to support "soft-conservative" candidate Barb Higgins, who ended up losing.
In Ottawa, Clive Doucet, who is pretty left-wing and more than likely received the votes and support of most NDP supporters, came in as another paltry third, even though in 2006's election, Alex Munter came in a relatively close second to former-Mayor Larry O'Brien. Munter was a former NDP candidate provincially and had been approached several times to run for the federal party.
In Winnipeg, just yesterday, former NDP MP Judy Wascylicia-Leis lost heavily to incumbent Mayor Sam Katz. Indeed, it wasn't even close.
Indeed, even in the NDP-bastion of Hamilton, MP David Christopherson's chosen candidate, incumbent Fred Eisenburger, lost to Downtown Councillor Bob Bratina, who is left-wing and rode past both Eisenburger, who ended up third, and former mayor Larry DiIanni.
So, could a rather poor showing for the NDP and generally left-wing candidates in municipal elections spell out doom for the federal party's chances at the next election?
Personally, I don't think so. While there has been general dismay at left-wing candidates in municipal elections this year, it translating over to the federal or even provincial scene seems unlikely. But, the results do certainly seem to be pointing to a somewhat tired, squeezed machine. Highlighted especially in Toronto with Pantalone's sad result, the NDP are not exactly showing signs of health.
However, the general failure of most left-wing candidates in municipal elections this year could point out some general voter fatigue with left-wing ideology, especially in major cities. It's not an exact science, to be fair, as quite a few right-wing incumbents were thrown out as well, but no one can deny that Liberal and Conservative-backed candidates, or those generally considered "centrist" (Jim Watson, Joe Fontana, Naheed Nenshi) or "centre-right" (Rob Ford, Sam Katz, John Henry in Oshawa), have far outnumbered left-wing/centre-left candidates in victory.
Could this mean that the NDP may be facing a semi-crisis, as support for their type of policy drifts away? I don't know, but it's probably more than just coincidence.