Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why no new posts? Canada is not as divided as we think.

Over the past week I have tried no less than 9 times to make a new post, only for it to fail. Two of these are simply due to lack of information; international elections in particular. Switzerland, for example, is ruled by a 7-person Federal Council instead of a single "President" or "Prime Minister" and it is unclear if the recent election results, which I will present below, mean this council's political balance will change or not. Neighbouring Austria meanwhile continues negotiations, but it seems we are getting closer to a OVP-Green coalition. Israel continues talks, with Gantz trying to form a government. The UK is headed to an election, but is not there yet. None of these really could morph into a post on its own.

Seven times, however, I've failed to prove a theory I set out to prove, and thus, made any post I wanted to make moot. My PR example on Twitter failed to show what I thought it would for the simple reason that Ralph Goodale, and Lisa Raitt, two MPs I consider of high quality, lost their ridings very badly. Additionally, numerous posts I've tried to make about how "Canada has never been so divided" have fallen to simple math; Even in 1974 or 2011 we were more divided by many measures, not to mention 1980 or 1993, two elections often thought of as divided.

So let me try to summarize all of these things into a single post. First, lets get the Swiss results out of the way.

To understand Swiss politics you need to understand the traditional coalition that ruled for decades from 1959 to 2003, and how that coalition saw a single change and continue to the present day.

Switzerland, as mentioned earlier, is ruled by a 7 person council. For decades, it operated under the "Magic Formula" coalition. This would see the council consist of 2 Socialists, 2 Christian Democrats, 2 Liberals, and 1 Peoples Party member. In 2003, due to the Peoples Party, for the second time in a row, finished first in the popular vote. They thus demanded a second seat on the council, and after some negotiating, eventually took a seat from the Christian Democrats who consistently had been the least popular among the other 3 coalition parties for over a decade. This thus made for a council of 2 Socialists, 2 Peoples Party members, 2 Liberals, and 1 Christian Democrat. There was a brief interruption by the BDP, which broke off from the Peoples Party, and took their seats, but, that ended in 2015.

The reason this is all important is that the Greens have done well. Both of them.

Switzerland has two Green parties. A traditional "Green Party" that is socialist in nature and leans heavily to the left, and a "Green Liberal" party, that is eco-capitalist in outlook. Combined, the two parties have taken 21.0% of the vote, up from a combined 11.7% last election. Importantly is that the Greens (the traditional left leaning party) have finished ahead of the Christian Democrats in the election. Results are as follows.

53 - Peoples Party - 25.6%
39 - Social Democrats - 16.8%
29 - Liberals - 15.1% (see note below)
28 - Green Party - 13.2%
25 - Christian Democrats - 11.4%
16 - Green Liberals - 7.8%
10 - others

(Cautionary note for some readers: the "Liberals" in this context are in the vein of mainland european "liberal parties", and are much more 'pro-business' than a 'liberal' from Canada, the UK, or the US would be expected to be)

As such, the Greens are looking to take a seat in the council, but the question arises, take a seat from whom? If they take the one Christian Democrat seat, not only will they remove a party that has been on the council since 1891, but it would mark a shift in the overall political leaning of the council, the first since 1959, by adding another "left" seat at the expense of a "right" party. Additionally, there may be questions as to why a party with 13% of the vote 'deserves' a seat, while one with 11% does not? Those questions could also, however, ask why a party with 8% then also does not 'deserve' a seat. It may then be from the Liberals whom the Greens would demand the seat, however the party finished closer to the Social Democrats than to the Greens, and may feel they 'deserve' two seats.

It is quite likely that this will be decided in time with a lot of negotiation, perhaps months from now. As such, there's nothing 'new' to really report.

As for Canada, in the process of writing all of the above, I've actually hit upon something I can do a blogpost on; I can show how we are not nearly as divided as we think - in the way we think - and show where the real divide actually is. That blogpost will be ready to go later today (I won't make you wait until tomorrow if I can at all help it)

1 comment:

  1. What I like about this post the most is that you are allowing the science to drive your theory.