Thursday, February 17, 2011

On voting blocs

Matt Gurney is mostly on the mark in pointing out the Bloc's motivations in raising the possibility of supporting a coalition government. But he does miss the rather important point that there's a third national party competing for seats in Quebec. And unlike the Libs and Cons, the NDP has plenty to gain if the possibility of a coalition is front and centre in the province where it's always been most popular.

Most obviously, anybody looking to choose between the Libs and NDP will have a strong incentive to show support to the national party which is more favourable toward a coalition. And the Libs' choice to position themselves as refusing to discuss the possibility means that the NDP will then be the natural first option for federalists hoping to see a coalition emerge.

But perhaps more interesting is the question of how Bloc/NDP swing voters may be affected if the Bloc succeeds in making a possible coalition into the main Quebec ballot question. After all, given the choice between supporting a party whose main aspiration is merely to support a coalition government and one which actually figures to participate in one, there's every reason for voters to opt for the latter - particularly to the extent the Lib+NDP seat count might be seen as a factor in whether or not a coalition will be formed.

So while the Bloc's strategy makes a world of sense in its messaging against the Cons and Libs, it may also give the NDP the upper hand in the current three-party pileup. And with plenty of Bloc voters already seeing the NDP as their second choice, that might well redound to the NDP's benefit in winning Bloc support as well.

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