The Red Herring of Strategic Voting
Gregory Dwulit, a writer for rabble.ca, has brought my attention to his article dated Dec. 13/2005 on the perils and “plain nonsense” of strategic voting.
Strategic voting [in 2004] helped defeat 12 NDP candidates across the country. The real tragedy behind strategic voting was that it elected only five Liberals and seven Conservatives. If voters in these 12 ridings had voted with their conscience and elected New Democrats, the Liberals and the NDP combined would have had enough seats to operate a working and stable minority government.
Of course, you have to remember that a month ago, it looked like we were heading for another Liberal minority, and now a Conservative majority is a very real and sad possibility. Therefore, the statement that “Most political analysts believe [centrist and independent voters] are not ready to trust Stephen Harper yet and will re-elect another Liberal minority government” might not completely hold any longer — at least the conclusion on the Liberal minority outcome. However, this is a reference to those voters who only swing between the Liberals and the Consevatives. “The large group of centrist and independent voters who traditionally support the Liberals decided to support Mulroney [in 1984],” writes Dwulit, noting that in that election, the NDP saw its support drop to 18.8% from 19.6% in the previous election in 1980. “These voters rarely consider the NDP.”
So, if Liberals are to lose seats this time, better that they lose them to the NDP. In a riding like Halifax, which is already NDP, better that it stay NDP than switch to the Liberals, since it looks like the Liberals are going to have their ass handed to them anyway and few Haligonians are Reform/Alliance-style Conservatives. And in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, which is really a two-way race between the Liberals and the NDP, why not just go with your heart and go back to the NDP (as in 1997 and 2000 with Wendy Lill). Indeed, better to have more NDP MPs to balance centre-right and right-wing ideologies in order to bring the balance to the centre, which most Canadians, it seems, prefer. The best strategy for a true centrist should be to vote more to the left than he or she might normally in order to tug the far right to that centre they prefer if they truly fear the right.
FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS VOTE CONSERVATIVE!
FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS FALL FOR STRATEGIC VOTING!
That said, I recognize that in ridings where the NDP consistently comes a distant third, you may have no choice but to vote strategically. But it’s up to you to do your research and find out what has historically happened to the NDP in your riding, and not accept at face value that your only strategy to stop the Conservatives is to vote Liberal. Also keep in mind, however, that your NDP vote in a “hopeless” riding will still give $1.75 to the party nationally, since now parties can’t raise money directly from corporations and unions. In short, your vote for the NDP can help make a difference in the opposition and in the next campaign.