Thursday, October 28, 2010

Could poor NDP results municipally threaten the federal party?

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.

1 comment:

  1. Bob Hawkesworth did have a lot of support at the beginning - he'd been a popular Alderman for ages. I think he got caught up in, and undermined somewhat, over the whole Enmax CEO's salary story that suddenly popped up shortly before the election.

    Mr. Hawkesworth received campaign contributions from Enmax and although he said he was against privatizing the company, others said he wasn't.