The rest of the article goes on to explain using the only real example we have - the split-right of the 1990's. Very good article, and another mark against the silly notion of 1:1 vote translation in some weird merger of sworn enemies.
Here’s a quick trivia question. Which party is more right-wing: The Conservatives, or the NDP?
Because you’re the sort of person who reads political blogs, obviously the answer is extraordinarily easy. So insultingly easy, in fact, you may have suspiciously assumed I’m only asking as a way to segue into some smarmy point about how the CPC has abandoned their philosophical roots, or whatever.
Yet to many Canadians, this question is not easy at all. Polls routinely show that the majority of voters in this country do not understand the meanings of even the most basic ideological terms. A 2004 poll, for example, had 50% of the public unable to answer whether the Canadian Alliance was to the left or right of the NDP.
Stats like these are important to keep in mind when your favorite lefty complains that the re-elected Harper government is in some way illegitimate, since the combined “progressive” vote dwarfed the Conservatives’ 40% share in this last election. No, the combined NDP-Liberal vote did. There’s no real evidence to suggest the two are synonymous, or that any coherent ”progressive” bloc of voters even exists in the first place.
The fact that few Canadians understand what “left” or “right” means is amply reflected by the fact that almost no one in the country self-identifies with those labels. A Harris-Decima survey conducted for the Manning Center last year found that 65% of Canadians consider themselves “centrists” versus 21% who consider themselves right-wingers in some form, and 9% who consider themselves left-wingers. The same study found that most Canadians cling to a fairly ideologically incoherent hodge-podge of beliefs, with views running all over the place, and often in contradictory directions, regarding the appropriate role of the welfare state, private sector, individual freedom, and minority rights in a just society.
This, in large part, helps explain why Canadians have such a marked tendency to vote in seemingly inconsistant ways: if no one party is offering exactly what you want (partially because what you want is impossible), it’s much easier to be a fickle shopper. Consider Ontario. It’s presently ruled by a Liberal majority government, yet still sent a majority of Conservative MPs to the House of Commons. The same is true of Manitoba and Nova Scotia, both of which are ruled by the NDP. For some particular fun, check out the electoral map of British Columbia’s last provincial election compared to how we voted federally. I suppose it could be argued (and some do) that one can be progressive on provincial issues, yet conservative on federal ones, yet a much more likely explanation is that voters simply don’t value ideological consistency as much as the chattering class believes they should. People vote for who they think will do the best job in the context of the moment. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.
Check out his seat projections as well - they're interesting, to say the least.