Uniting the Left
There’s a lot of talk on the net and in the media right about how to “unite the left” post election, with Murray Dobbin, many folks at rabble.ca and a few others talking about the need for an immediate coalition of the opposition parties to defeat the Conservatives.
The project of some immediate union of the supposed left of centre parties is not going to go anywhere fast:
– the Bloc are a mixed bag ideologically and, while the social democratic element is strong, they are not about to join a federalist coalition; at best they can and will co-operate to a greater degree on progressive projects in Parliament
– while the Liberals are are not indistinguishable from the Conservatives and contain some progressive elements, they are not and do not see themselves as a left or even centre left party … and if anything they may be about to shift right in search of votes, as counselled by most of the more astute pollsters.
Many Liberals see their historic worst showing ever as a reflection of a poor (leftish) program and not just poor leadership.
– rightly or wrongly, Jack isn’t going to play this game, yet… and, for all of its warts, the NDP remains a genuinely social democratic party. It will cease to be so when progressives seek to blur genuine party differences on key issues.
– Most folks would say, with some reason, that Harper and the Conservatives did not win a majority, but they still won and have mandate to govern for a while
My personal preference is for a modified PR system which would produce a closer alignment of ideologies and votes, and also force parties with distinct ideological positions to work together post election.
In the meantime – which will be a long time – I think the task of progressive economists along with others on the left is to push a programmatic agenda, in the hope and expectation that the opposition parties can unite more or less around it. Who knows, we may yet get some gains driven by circumstance as a less ideological Harper confronts the reality of a crumbling economy in the context of a minority Parliament.