Saturday, February 17, 2007

1988 Again?

I'm the last person to draw comparisons between elections, but the upcoming (ongoing?) election campaign feels a lot like 1988, doesn't it?

For one, all major parties are in agreement on shelving some of the most 'dangerous' issues (in 1988: Meech Lake; in 2006: health care). Plus the Tories have managed to find an issue over which they can divide the left (in 1988: Free Trade; in 2006: the environment).

I'm not saying that Harper can achieve a "Mulroney Majority" (built on the strength of a meagre share of the popular vote). But the potential is there. This is especially true if the environment remains the focus of the campaign. Think about it: the Tories are looking to make gains in BC, Ontario and Quebec. In all of those regions, the left is split between two of three parties (the Grits, Greens and Dippers). Dion knows this, which is why he's swinging deals with Elizabeth May. Layton, if he's smart, would do the same. In this election, perhaps more than ever before, a vote for a third party (Bloc, NDP, Greens) really is a vote for the Conservatives.

What's more, just like Free Trade in 1988, there's no need for the Tories to moderate their policy on the environment. They can own the business-friendly, fiscally-responsible vote (larger than you'd think, by the way), with little fear that a single left-wing alternative will defeat them in many ridings. It's a complete reversal from the 1990s, when the Liberals were able to champion healthcare at the expense of a divided right.

Remember: Leading up to the 1988 election, nobody expected Mulroney to win as big a majority as he did. Harper's had the same opportunity handed to him on a silver platter: an issue over which a divided left can't possibly defeat him.

10 comments:

whichwaysthegym said...

This is a monumental opportunity for the Tories to capitalize on. Hopefully, they don't waste it away.

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