Hey, here’s a great way to improve our democratic system!
Let's give voters less choice!!
That's the brilliant idea Michael Byers, a political science teacher at UBC, spelled out in this Toronto Star column.
The way Byers, who once ran as a NDP candidate, sees it, there's only one way to prevent the Nasty Harper Tories from winning a majority government and that's for the New Democrats and Liberals to form a pact.
He is not suggesting a Liberal-NDP "coalition" or anything sordid like that, but merely a political arrangement of convenience.
"The Liberals and NDP," Byers writes, "should agree to not run candidates against each other in the next campaign. In each riding, the party whose candidate fared worst in the last election would pull its current candidate out, or refrain from nominating one. Both parties would win more seats, with the Liberals potentially forming a majority government."
Yet let’s face it, this will never happen. There’s no way in Narnia the Liberals and NDP would ever agree to pull candidates out of the race just to help each other out.
That would be like the Toronto Maple Leafs throwing games to help the Montreal Canadiens make the playoffs. (This assumes the Maple Leafs were actually good enough to actually throw games.)
But even if Byers' plan was realistic and even it were put into practice would it work?
The short answer is: nope.
The problem with Byers' idea is that he assumes there is a mass and widespread hatred among Canadians directed against Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government. He likely assumes this because he has a mass and widespread hatred of the Harper government as do all his academic friends.
So a victim of his own groupthink, he believes if you deny a Liberal voter the chance to vote for a Liberal or a NDP supporter the chance vote for a New Democrat, these orphaned voters will automatically vote for whichever candidate is left opposing the Tories.
NDPers would embrace Michael Ignatieff and Liberals would warm up to Jack Layton.
But there are also other equally plausible scenarios. It’s possible there are many Liberals who don’t like and would never support the NDP and vice versa.
As a result, if their favourite party is not running in the race they might just stay home and not vote.
Or they might just vote Conservative. Certainly many Liberals would find more in common with the Conservative Party than they would with the socialist, big-union-dominated NDP.
And let’s not forget, there’s a populist element in the NDP (especially in Western Canada) that would rather cast its support with the Tories than with the adscam-stained, urban-oriented Liberals.
In other words, Byers’ scheme might actually help the Conservatives win a majority government.
Ironic isn’t it?
That’s why instead of playing these silly tactical games, political parties should simply provide voters with a vision of where they want to take the country and leave it at that.
Democracy usually works better that way.
Crossposted at Libertas Post.