Friday, May 15, 2009

Leadership 2009 - Yens Pedersen Opposition Projection

I noted in my post on Ryan Meili that there's a bit more guesswork involved in projecting the future of the candidates who haven't yet sat on opposition benches in the Legislature. But in Yens Pedersen's case, that may be made up for at least in part by the fact that he's largely built his leadership campaign around an opposition-style strategy. So what can that tell us about the aftermath of a Pedersen victory?

In the party-building department, Pedersen would figure to carry less of a support structure into the LO's office than any of his leadership competitors. While that would present some challenges, it may also raise some opportunities in allowing him to pick and choose the best of what each campaign has had to offer in the leadership race, rather than having a group of loyalists expecting to be rewarded for their efforts in the leadership campaign.

Unfortunately, though, Pedersen's oppositional style has also made him a target for criticism from within the Lingenfelter camp in particular. And with Pedersen apparently not backing down from his view that Lingenfelter should step down from the race even after the flak he's already taken for that position, there would seem to be a significant danger that a number of Lingenfelter's supporters would have trouble working with Pedersen at the end of the campaign.

Which could be particularly problematic since Pedersen might be the lone candidate without an obvious path into the Legislature. One option would be for him to try to claim Saskatoon-Riversdale - but given that Meili was organizing there even before the leadership race, that move could well create even more internal divisions.

More likely Pedersen would seek a seat in Regina. But unless John Nilson agreed to step down in Regina Lakeview, that would involve either convincing a Link supporter to make way for his greatest critic in the campaign, or replacing another young and strong caucus member.

Once he got into the Legislature, though, Pedersen's leadership campaign tactics would seem to have the potential to translate well into opposition.

Lacking the connections to raise many new issues for himself (though he's tried to do that as well), Pedersen has followed a largely reactive approach. But he's done an effective job of inserting himself into the narrative surrounding hot-button issues like nuclear power and the Lingenfelter membership controversy.

It's not hard to see how an opposition leader who responds quickly, forcefully and consistently to the Wall government's failings - rather than sticking mostly to a predetermined strategy ala Higgins, or adopting Lingenfelter's sometimes scattershot approach - could serve the NDP well in turning public opinion against the Sask Party, particularly if a scandal or two turns up over the next couple of years. And the combination of Pedersen's persistence and the full weight of the NDP's research resources might maximize the chances of making any such scandals stick to Wall and his government.

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