Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can the NDP survive?

Two consecutive polls have the federal NDP at 12% and 13%. This is fairly consistent with how poor they have been polling since the 2006 election. NDP leader, Jack Layton has approached the situation by spending half of his time attacking the Liberals and half of his time attacking the Conservative government. Perhaps he has taken a lessen from the run-up to the 1988 election that had the NDP in the lead, briefly. It has often been said that if Ed Broadbent had have hit John Turner a little harder after the 1984 election and up until the '88 election, we could have been looking at a business/labour divide that is more common world wide.

Now, this is not 1988 and the strategy that Layton has taken hasn't really shown many results. Firstly, there is no mystery as to how Layton's NDP will vote on the budget, or just about any other confidence motion. Yes, Canadians want vigorous opposition but they also expect parties to work together to keep us from having early elections. Canadians seem to be very happy with the current minority Parliament, and want it to work. The NDP hasn't done anything since 2006's election to make this one work.

After the 2004 election which resulted in Paul Martin's ill-fated minority government, Layton's support was highly sought. That is not the case this time around. True, Liberals and NDP have a longer history of working together but the parties are (or at least were) far enough apart that the thought of working together was at one time no more outrageous than the thought of the NDP keeping the Conservatives alive.

It seems that Jack Layton hasn't done the party in favours since the 2006 election, and with the Green party now in striking distance of the NDP for the distant third party status, I'm left wondering if the federal NDP can even survive as a credible force.

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