12/1/08

Of coalitions and such... (or, Risk: Canada)

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/11/30/canada-coalition.html

I have trouble believing this is LEGAL.

More thoughts to follow...

2:30PM:

Okay, so good point IP... and you/this has finally answered a long-standing question of mine: when casting a ballot, does it make more sense to vote by the PARTY, the LOCAL CANDIDATE, or the POTENTIAL PRIME MINISTER?

Well, if you can just randomly half-dissolve government (because really, that's what they are threatening... it's not a TOTAL dissolution, they are just changing who gets to sit where), then you might as well just be selfish. Vote local, baby.

(I am quoting from IP's comment on the original post I made, which can be seen above)

And I'm having trouble believing that so many Canadians don't realize that this is not just legal, but a perfectly normal way of salvaging untenable situations in parliamentary democracies around the world.
Seriously?? This is "normal"? Have I really just been living under a rock all this time? I really don't think I've seen something like this happen before. I'm not disagreeing, more just shocked that this might be such a regular, not to mention democratic, happenstance.

But really? Here's what I think.

I think it's 100% entirely too much like a game of Risk Good Friends Sarah, Paul, Porter and I played a couple weeks ago. Especially the whole 30-month timeline.

Porter was the Green party, he didn't have a hope in hell.
I was the NDP, I knew I was valuable, but it wasn't immediately clear who I'd screw over.
Sarah was the Liberals, the only one with a fighting chance out of the three of us...
And Paul was the Conservatives. Everyone wanted to see him go down in flames.

Not unexpectedly... Porter was the first to go. This happened after ... maybe 5 rounds? I was actually the one to eliminate him. My those NDP'ers can be fiesty! But really, I was just after his cards.

Several rounds passed. Nothing too remarkable. Except, predictably, the NDP(me) is losing ground against the Tories(Paul) and the Grits (Sarah). And the Tories/Paul are sitting just a little too comfortably for my liking. So I SABATOGE THEM. The NDP/me approaches the Liberals/Sarah with a proposition. It goes something like this:

So Sarah. I have a proposition for you. I don't really stand a chance of winning this thing, but I really would like to see someone other than Paul/Tories win. So here's the deal: for the next 3 turns, we act as a team. To take Paul/Tories down. After that point we can act as free agents. I'm pretty sure I'll lose, but I'd like to take him down before I do.

Sound familiar?

Now our game ended a bit differently than I expect our political one will... Paul was a good sport and didn't really hold it against us that we talked through the entire first round ("we're neeew to the gaaame" we pleaded), and played to the end.

But the similarities are a tad eerie, IMHO....

16 comments:

Bob Izumi Jr. December 1, 2008 at 12:42 PM  

It's so totally legal. The GG is technically obligated to allow the Opposition to try to form a government if the current one is defeated.

It is absolutely, 100-per cent within the letter of the law. Now of course, you don't have to like it....

Idealistic Pragmatist December 1, 2008 at 2:06 PM  

And I'm having trouble believing that so many Canadians don't realize that this is not just legal, but a perfectly normal way of salvaging untenable situations in parliamentary democracies around the world. Surely you folks studied these things in high school?

We don't vote for a government, see, we vote for a parliament. The parliament we choose gets to figure out who forms the government. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Governor-General asking parliament to form a different government from its ranks when the existing one isn't working. In fact, it's the responsible thing to do, given that we're only a few weeks out from the last election.

jen December 1, 2008 at 4:22 PM  

Yeah it sounds a little too much like Risk (Nathan always makes me play lol) to me too! It kind of pisses me off that ultimately my vote doesn't matter, because anything can happen like it's some drinking night over at my friends house playing on a Risk board. If they want to dissolve and start again then fine. I hope at least they'll let people vote for their government instead of just mashing one together and changing it outright! Glad you posted about this!

Idealistic Pragmatist December 1, 2008 at 5:02 PM  

Seriously?? This is "normal"?

Well, it doesn't happen every DAY. But it does happen in situations just like this--when the party or parties currently in government a) can't form a majority between them, and b) can't or won't play nice with the other parties, and c) it would be super-super-super unreasonable to call another election.

Then again, most of the democratic world governs by coalition already anyway. Seriously, we're pretty odd ducks here in Canada. We really need to start looking beyond our borders to see how the other guys do it sometimes.

does it make more sense to vote by the PARTY, the LOCAL CANDIDATE, or the POTENTIAL PRIME MINISTER?

Well, personally I think it makes the MOST sense to CHANGE THE FREAKING VOTING SYSTEM already to one that doesn't force you to combine all of those very different things into a single vote. But unfortunately, nobody's made me king of the world yet, so all I get to do is shout that into the void.

And until that day, I'd say pick your favourite choice on all three of those fronts, see if any of them match up, and if any of them do (usually at least two of them do, right?), you've got your vote lined up.

Idealistic Pragmatist December 1, 2008 at 9:18 PM  

Also, to Jen:

You actually don't get to vote for your government, and you never HAVE gotten to do that. You vote for your MP. That's it. The MPs we elect then get to choose who's going to form the government amongst the parliament we elect. That's what "parliamentary democracy" means. We're not Americans, we don't vote for a President.

So there's no sense in you saying that "ultimately your vote doesn't matter" because your vote matters precisely as much as it did on election night. Which, incidentally, is either 100% (if the MP candidate you voted for won) or not at all (if the MP candidate you voted for didn't win).

Way Way Up December 1, 2008 at 11:00 PM  

On one hand I understand the GG has an obligation to keep the government of the country functioning But part of me really can't help but think that this only serves to reinforce the idea that ultimately politicians DO NOT serve this country but only serve themselves.

jen December 2, 2008 at 5:58 AM  

IP
I didn't come in here saying I was an expert, but I do understand how the Canadian system works for the most part.

I voted for an MP who was in a certain party so that ultimately my vote would result in that party having majority of control. If that party is changing without going back to a vote, you can understand how I feel like my vote doesn't matter. I still understand that there is still the same amount of MP's representing that party...as if nothing has changed in that way.

But the fact that other parties can just mash themselves together to form a temporary super party (parties that normally don't agree) freaks me out. As soon as it's all over they will break up and continue to disagree. Back to the Risk board.

Personally I think this is just going to piss off a lot of people on all sides.

Idealistic Pragmatist December 2, 2008 at 6:40 PM  

I voted for an MP who was in a certain party so that ultimately my vote would result in that party having majority of control. If that party is changing without going back to a vote, you can understand how I feel like my vote doesn't matter.

Actually, I'm afraid I actually don't understand what you mean by that. I can understand you feeling as if your vote didn't matter if you voted for someone who didn't win in your riding. That's because your vote actually DOESN'T matter unless you vote for the winner in your riding. But your vote matters exactly the same amount (either 100% or not at all), depending on what happens in that riding, and it has no impact on who forms government. It never has, never will.

The party whose MP you voted for isn't changing--it's still there. Your MP is still the same. None of the seats in the House are changing hands. If you like the Tories and want to see them continue to govern, I can absolutely see you saying that you don't like this, but that doesn't change the impact of your individual vote.

Way Way Up December 2, 2008 at 8:34 PM  

I, on the the hand did vote for a candidate with the hopes that she would become elected and become part of the government, which she did. So indirectly, I voted for this government. While I understand the GG has an obligation to keep the Parliament of the country functioning, I still find the prospect of some sort of coalition unpalatable and frustrating. Here's why.

Shortly before the election the opposition parties cried foul over Harper asking the GG to dissolve Parliament because, to them. Parliament was working. Now that Dion is no longer PM, magically, the LIberals and the other Opposition parties decide that Parliament is somehow not working. So really, which is it? At the core, this really smacks of nothing more than opportunism by a cabal of idiots who are only interested in getting into power.

I find it almost funny how the Liberals accused to Conservatives in the past of pandering to separatists and allowing them into politics via the former PC Party but now they want to form a coalition with these morons. Are you kidding me. Seriously, I think DIon's underwear is on waaaay to tight.

Now, the Liberals will force me to pay taxes toward keeping their sinking ship afloat. Of course they oppose Harper's cuts to funding for the political parties. At the moment, tax money accounts for most of the Liberal Party revenue. How can they expect to run a country when they can't even run their own party.

In fairness though, at the moment, none of these clowns deserve my vote. Layton needs to wake up and see himself and his party for the joke that it is. Harper is too antagonizing and needs to be shown the door. Dion needs to get over himself and realize he is simply not cut out to be PM and Duceppe can leave the country as far as I'm concerned if he wants to separate so badly.

If this is not a screaming example of why politics and democracy in this country need to change, I don't know what is.

Way Way Up December 2, 2008 at 9:01 PM  

Did I mention Italy and Israel as being stellar examples of how well coalition governments can "function"? Of course the Opposition parties don't want us to think of that. That would lead Canadians to realize what a bone-headed idea this coalition deal really is and underscore what a bunch of pathetic, greedy, self-serving and power-hungry bunch of social misfits these so-called "public servants" really are.

And when you're thirsting for power, its always a bad idea to let facts and reality get in the way.

Dooner December 3, 2008 at 4:08 PM  

Didn't everyone get used to this over the past couple of years? When the Conservatives needed the Bloc's support to pass their first two budgets, and the Liberals abstaining in order for their last budget to pass? Being Prime Minister doesn't mean you get to be king for 4 years.
Isn't it better to have a government supported by MPs elected by 62% of the population rather than just 38%?

62percentmajority.ca

Way Way Up December 4, 2008 at 8:59 AM  

Its one thing to obtain Bloc support to pass a bill. It's an another thing entirely to actively court them in order to set up some sort of coalition to govern the country.

If Harper and Layton manage to pull off their little coup, do they honestly think this will help them win more votes outside of Ontario?

Essentially, we have the GG, an unelected official who gets to decide who the ruling party should be......another screaming example of why our political system needs to change. Coalition governments simply don't last. They don't.

I have to hand it to the Liberals, they are very good at strategizing in order to hang on to power - no mattter what. No, being PM doesn't mean you are King for 4 years......a message apparently lost on many other PM's......Chretien and Mackenzie King spring to mind.

Idealistic Pragmatist December 4, 2008 at 2:09 PM  

Did I mention Italy and Israel as being stellar examples of how well coalition governments can "function"?

Actually, Italy and Israel aren't stellar examples of much of anything, unless you're deliberately trying to pick execeptions to normal functioning. Doesn't it seem odd that in a whole world of coalition governments, opponents of consensus governance always just happen to pick the two places where the parties get along about as well as ours do? And they're always discussed as if they were one thing, too: ITALYANDISRAEL.

I'd recommend some further reading about how coalitions really do tend to function in that big wide world out there, but it's pretty clear you're not really listening, just talking.

Way Way Up December 4, 2008 at 2:14 PM  

....or doing a great deal of typing.

Dooner December 4, 2008 at 5:19 PM  

I totally agree that the parliamentary system needs to change. If a party has a majority of seats (which is usually doable with a minority of the votes), they basically do get to govern like a king. I once had a poli sci prof who referred to parliamentary democracy as an "elected aristocracy." There are a number of problems with this.

In a minority parliament, no single party can do whatever they want.
So, if you're a political party that just ran in an election in a parliamentary democracy, it seems that you should be willing follow the rules of that parliament, and the will of its elected representatives. Right now, the majority of our elected representatives are calling for a coalition.

Way Way Up December 4, 2008 at 5:39 PM  

Frankly, I couldn't care what a majority of these idiots want. Given the way parties of either political stripe have governed in the recent past, why should I care what they want?