Today we go into part 2 of the Outsider's Perspective, with a look at Canada's Fourth Party, who face a series of uphill battles if they hope to improve upon their success of the last election.
New Democratic Party
Current Leader: Jack Layton
Leader's Riding: Toronto-Danforth
Seats at Dissolution: 30
Major Issues: Afghanistan, Elizabeth May at debates, being taken seriously
Jack's in trouble and he knows it.
After the 2006, the NDP received their second highest seat total ever, and the highest total for any fourth party in the country's history. Surely this should be a great cause for success, but there is trouble lurking around the corner.
The rise of the Green Party has put the NDP in very unfamiliar territory. They have always been the party that took votes away from disenchanted Liberals, who felt marginalized in their own party. Now, here they sit with the Greens having the potential to do the same to them.
Now Jack Layton has repeatedly said that he is running to be Prime Minister of the country, but surely, he must join the other thirty odd million Canadians who see that as being highly unlikely. He is obviously making these claims to counter Elizabeth May's support for the Liberals, and Stephane Dion's claims that he is the only one that can prevent a Conservative government.
In my last post, I mentioned Elizabeth May's exclusion from the debates. Jack Layton was one of the people who blatantly opposed her involvement. He received so much backlash from his supporters that he has since changed his position on the issue. Given the NDP's socialist roots, it is no surprise that so many supporters wanted everyone to get a fair shake. One has to wonder just how many people on the left-of-center will change their vote given Layton's position(s) on this controversial issue.
Another major issue for the NDP is Canada's mission in Afghanistan. They have opposed it for a great deal of time, and want an immediate withdraw. The Liberals and Conservatives feel that Canadian troops should stay for a few years longer to finish what they have started. As more and more somber repatriation ceremonies occur in Trenton, one has to wonder if more and more Canadians will vote for the NDP in order to stop Canadian involvement in the conflict.
The NDP are involved in several key battleground ridings in British Columbia, that the Conservatives must win in order to form a majority. After seeing his poll numbers drop at dissolution, his support has since rise, and it shows that we are in for a fight out West between the two parties. Layton also seems to think that his party is poised for breakthroughs in Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. One has to wonder if Layton is overly optimistic, lying, or just plain delusional.
The left-wing voters in Quebec are very clearly going to vote for the Bloc. Saskatchewan has some potential, given the province's on-again-off-again love affair of the left, however, they seem to be on a break for the time being. And Alberta is Conservative country, no question. This is similar to John McCain saying that he would break through in California, it just won't happen, sorry.
So really for the NDP, the best bet for them will be to stay at or about the same level that they are, 30 seats is quite respectable, especially for a fourth party. However, this is Layton's third election as party leader, and if he can't gain more support than before, one has to wonder just how much longer the left-wing-powers-that-be will keep him around for. I think that the this is why Layton opposed May's inclusion at the debates, and this is why he is saying that he is running for Prime Minister, and this is why he started the campaign trail with the most frantic pace of any leader, criss-crossing the country.
He knows that his time as leader rests in the results of this election, and he needs to improve on his party's 30 seat performance from 2006. Sadly, for Layton, it's just not in the cards for him. Like I said, Jack's in trouble and he knows it.
Until next time,
Part I - The Green Party of Canada - September 9, 2008
Part II - The NDP - September 15, 2008
Part III - The Bloc Quebecois - September 16, 2008
Part IV - The Liberal Party of Canada - September 19, 2008
Part V - The Conservative Party of Canada - September 21, 2008