Monday, January 24, 2011

Alberta Party gets its first MLA - and probably the only one

Today, Alberta's legislature got its fifth party, with former Liberal MLA-turned-Independent Dave Taylor declaring himself to be the MLA now representing the fledgling Alberta Party - a collection of the now-defunct Alberta Greens, disenfranchised Liberals, and idealistic Dippers, all wrapped up in a nice cocoon of the impossible.

See, the entire idea behind the Alberta Party is that the current Opposition is either too weak or too redundant to represent those Albertans who want something different. It's essentially the brainchild of former Green Party members after their own party collapsed upon itself. It's apparently centrist, though its history was mainly that of a conservative party, at least until those conservatives left to join the markedly more successful Wildrose Alliance, and the centrist rump left took over. I can only assume Taylor joined because he sees some sort of direction from the party that had four leaders in the past two years, which he didn't see from the Liberals before.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's note that their apparent natural constituency is already taken up by a rather large amount of parties - Liberals, Dippers, and even some PCers. Their other natural constituency, or those opposed to the current government, is made up of almost the same group - Liberals, Dippers, and Wildrosers.

So while I definitely admire their raison d'etre, I don't think they'll get very far. With the next election promising to be somewhat of a realigning one, all eyes are focussed on the two leading contenders, plus the guys with the outside chance, mainly the PCs, Wildrosers, and Liberals. It also means both their constituencies are going to be squeezed, as the PCs and Liberals try to appeal to centrist voters, and the other three Opposition parties appeal to anti-Tory people, especially the Wildrosers who will be aiming for this group big as the true viable alternative at this point. So how exactly does the Alberta Party expect to grow, with better funded and more organized forces arrayed against them?

They can't. They may appeal to some but unless they get a large bump in the polls surpassing everyone else, they won't appeal to the people they need to. I don't doubt that they can build on success after success in successive elections, but what's the long-term viability of this small party, really? They usually come and go, regardless of whether or not they can win a seat. Unless there's real success in the next election, and there really is little chance of that, they won't last too long before dissolving into the other parties, or something else entirely.

Sorry, Alberta Party supporters - I wish you well, but I don't see you going far. Unless it changes within the next few months, I don't see it happening. You're probably an election too late.

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