Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Welcome to WildRump and Alberta's future

WildRump will retain the title of "Official Opposition" it seems.

The Wildrose party, which was originally elected with 17 members, now has 5 remaining. This ties the Liberals at 5; however, due to precedent, they will retain the title they already hold.

Speakers across the country have ruled, time and time again, that whatever titles a caucus holds, pre or post election, they are able to retain it unless overtaken. This means by dropping to 5, a tie, Wildrose will retain it's status as Official Opposition, and only should it drop to 4, or, should the Liberals rise to 6, will the Liberals overtake the party and become the Official Opposition.

So what's next for WildRump? Of their 5 MLAs, one of them (from Calgary) does not plan to run again. She is also competent and well spoken. My guess is she becomes interim leader while the party holds a leadership race. Saskiw seems well positioned to win such a race, but there is also the possibility of Aglin being welcomed back into what's left of the party, and that he may run for (and win) the leadership.

Smith will eventually get a good position, IMO, but it remains to be seen which position. Prentice says no cabinet shuffle this week; but there is nothing stopping him from calling a new throne speech and making a major shuffle in the early new year which gives Smith a key position. If Prentice has any sense to him, he'll give her some kind of position with a title to the tune of "Minister of Government Ethics" so that he can go back to the voters and tell them he's so into ethics, he had the Opposition leader come on over and do that job.

So, where does this leave everyone? I've created another map that shows the current standings in the legislature. Aglin is still shown as an Independent; as that's his status, and the 5 WildRump MLAs retain their shade of Green; however the 11 defectors (9 from today and 2 from a few weeks ago) are shown in a slightly different shade of blue from the remainder of the PC Caucus.

My personal guess for the future is as follows:

Forsyth (that WildRump Calgary MLA) becomes interim leader.
Saskiw and Aglin run for the leadership.
The results end up 51%-49%, because that seems to be the trend as of late*
Either wins, it matters little.
Prentice either does a shuffle and throne speech, or, calls an early election.
Either way, in the next election, Aglin and Saskiw are re-elected.

Why do I think these two will be re-elected? Both come from areas of the province where the average Wildrose voter is different. The "Model" Wildrose voter lives in areas of the map like District 57 and District 53, the areas held by Aglin (77) and Saskiw (65) have a different voter base. With big personalities, these two people who have already won their ridings could well manage to hold on to them even if all their other colleagues go down to defeat.

* Examples:,_2009#Results,_2014#Results,_2013#Second_ballot,_2011#Results,_2011#Results,_2003


  1. I think this clearly illustrates what a disaster Smith was as a leader. I believe the most important issue to conservative leaning Albertans is how the PCs have been running massive deficits in the boom times. As much as they claim, the added government cost isn't going to infrastructure but is going to government wages. Now it is looking like the first time in over a decade a bust is coming. Government debt is going to go through the roof in this province and I'm pretty comfortable in betting Prentice will be more Don Getty than Ralph Klein. Smith bailed at the worst possible time and is dead in politics. Wildrose might not be as dead as it seems, time will tell. If the party grassroots come back that Smith and her controllers alienated they just might grab a handful of seats again. A lot of conservatives will not come back to the PCs and think the party has become corrupt and need somewhere to hang their hat. Also, progressives that voted for the PCs to block the Wildrose will not have that concern this time round and will most probably return to the Liberals and NDP. Paradoxically this might result in even more vote splitting for the PCs.

  2. An interesting twist in Alberta politics. Who knows how the political landscape in the province will look one, two or five years from now.

    I believe Alberta is in a transformational period at the moment. Never before has the province had this much clout in the country. Demographics are changing rapidly. At the same time, provincial politics is a mess. Alberta will eventually need bring forward a provincial sales tax and/or increase income taxes in order to meet to service and infrastructure demands of the province.

    I think the Wildrose will continue to exist as a right-wing rural rump for a long time. There is sizeable segment of the Albertan electorate who share the values of the Wildrose. Since they likely won't obtain power, the Wildrose can tack farther to the right and be the voice of opposition to inevitable social progressive policies that will be enacted in the future. The PCs will also benefit if the Wildrose exists as a rump with 10-20% support. The PCs will be able to appeal to moderates if the far right have their own party and base.

    Now, this is a perfect opportunity of the Alberta Liberals and NDP (and maybe the Alberta Party and Greens too) to merge or have some form of electoral co-operation. Liberals and NDP do not need to merge at the federal level since both parties have major bases and their combined support is usually 55 to 60%. The federal Liberals and NDP also come from different traditional and ideological backgrounds.

    The Alberta Liberals and NDP are irrelevant as two separate parties. They will never gain power in their current forms. By merging together as a big tent center-left party, they would be able to attract more donations, develop stronger organization and be seen as a viable contender to power one day.

    1. Or, as is also just as likely to happen, the new LiberalDemocraticGreenAlberta Party forms, fails to gain power in their first election, then falls apart again, as has happened more than once in Alberta.

      The problem with a merger, or coalitions for that matter, is that it is a solution contingent upon a specific result - obtaining power. In most other cases, I would say there is a good case to make that a merged centre-left party could, feasibly, obtain power, especially if the two parties competing have generally equal levels of support... but this is not the case in Alberta. What we have is a collection of three-to-four weak centre-left parties that, when combined, form a slightly less weak centre-left party. Losing 40% of your supporters means that your party becomes even weaker.

      The best case scenario I see for a merged centre-left party in Alberta is that they get about 35-40%, totally enough to win under most circumstances... outside of Alberta. When you have a ruling PC dynasty that can count on a *base* of 40% support, that level of support is not going to win. Especially when your merged centre-left party has only merged because of its aim to overthrow the PCs. You think you can count on a right-wing split when you're threatening a right-wing government? Support for the Wildrosers or whoever would shrivel up in a minute, and instead of having a 2012 election where centre-left support when to the PCs, allowing Redford to win, you'll have centre-right support allowing Prentice to win.

      Lets not even get to the fact that there is no good centre-left leadership in the province. If modern politics really is about leaders, your centre-left merged party is going to sink like a stone.

      I could go on, and on, and on. My point is not that a merger is a bad idea, its just that it isn't a necessary one, nor necessarily the best solution. You can achieve a win as a separate party in a crowded field by showing you're the best among the bunch - proper policies, able leadership, and effective organization. You can merge without merging by taking votes away from those less able to actually compete. Its been shown to work in every area of the country.

    2. Combined the Alberta Liberals and NDP only take 30% of the vote, a merged entity would still not be competitive for Government. The votes in Alberta are on the right, the Alberta Liberals best hope at Government is to become a Blue Liberal party in a fashion similar to the BC Liberals, a split in the centre-right vote wouldn't hurt.

    3. I'd say the Alberta PCs post Ralph Klien have been a Blue Liberal/Red Tory government akin to the BC Liberals.

      Center-left politics in Alberta will be slightly different form other provinces. It will essentially be a PC-lite type of party. A merged entity would be staunch supporters of resource development, but perhaps with slightly more environmental regulations. The party will be more socially progressive and perhaps a bold leader can openly tell the electorate that taxes need to go up in the province. The party can also focus on ethics and accountability based issues which is neither left nor right. I believe with the right leader and right conditions such entity can form government in Alberta. Of course, this is all guessing right now.

    4. Big Jay,

      You're a dreamer. I think the most likely scenario to get rid of the PCs would involve a second centre-right political entity. A centre-left party that gets 30% of the vote will likely receive less votes than a rump or unpopular PC party.