Archive for the 'Elections' Category

Victory! Marxist/Anarchist party wins seat in Quebec election!

The most successful far left party in all of North America (excluding Mexico) is, without a doubt a provincial party in Québec called Québec Solidaire.

As of tonight, QS has become the only party in North America containing various sub-party groupings which openly identify as: Anti-Stalinist Marxist, radical, pacifist, anarchist, socialist, environmentalist and feminist, to hold a seat at the state or provincial level.

chretien-strangling-clennettUnfortunately, the Québec Solidaire candidate in my riding (Hull), Bill Clennett, only placed third after the Parti Québécois and the Liberals.  Clennett, for those of you who don’t know, rose to fame in that quintessentially Canadian way:  he was once literally strangled by then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on national television.

While I strongly disagree with Québec Solidaire’s sovereigntist leanings, the victory tonight in the provincial riding of Mercier is nothing short of one of the most important victories for the far left in the industrialized world.  This is one of the first times that I’m aware of since 1872 where anarchists and Marxists did that which commentators of all stripes had long claimed to be impossible:  They worked together within a single party structure and they succeeded.

red-flag-2If you want to see democracy in action, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see the kind of anarchist/Marxist/social democratic co-operation that must characterize 21st Century struggle, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see victory in the riding of Mercier, look no further than Québec Solidaire and Amir Khadir.

“Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose, but their chains…  Workers of the world unite!”


See also:

Is Capitalism Justified?

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

Marx on religion: Dispelling more myths about socialism

Great Quotes: Marx

3 statistics about the 2008 election you’ll never see in the media

With the 2008 federal election behind us, many pundits (myself included) are being faced with reality that the election did not turn out as we projected.  Having under-estimated the projected level of support for the Conservatives and over-estimated the projected level of support for the NDP and Greens; and with the NDP only gaining about 1% in the popular vote and the Green vote utterly collapsing by more than 1/3 between the last polls and election day, it seems that many progressives have been made to feel sorry for themselves.

As such, the triumph of the Harper Conservatives over the ‘progressive’ forces in this country has been a common theme  explored ad nausium by the mainstream media.

This notion is both interesting and straightforward.  Indeed the only problem with this post-election theme is that it’s completely unsupported by the facts.

If anything, this election should be noted as being exemplary of exactly the opposite.

This election, if nothing else, was a stentorian vindication of the long-term trend witnessed in Canada since the 1974 general election AWAY from liberalism and conservatism and toward progressivism.

A while back, I pointed out the long-term trend in Canadian popular support away from the neo-liberal/neo-conservative, ultra-capitalist parties (of which, I took to include Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and other small third parties) and toward the more moderate and/or progressive capitalist parties (which I took to include the NDP, Bloc, Greens, Communist Party, CAP, CPC-ML and other small third parties).  I am pleased to say that not only has this trend continued, but that it has also continued in every region of the country without exception.

In 2008, in every region of Canada without exception — West, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic & North — the combined ultra-capitalist parties (Liberal and Conservative) decreased in popular support.  Meanwhile, in every region of Canada, the combined more moderate or progressive parties increased their popular level of support.

The public’s appetite for laissez faire capitalism and vicious cuts to social spending as instituted by the Conservatives of today and the Liberals of yesteryear is clearly declining.  The only question is, how much longer can these two warring factions of the capitalist class continue to operate as separate parties before they are forced to ‘unite the right’ once again amidst the rising tide of public opinion against their policies.

And that is something that the mainstream capitalist media or their conservative apologists just won’t let you contemplate.

The immorality of voting

The relatively inconspicuous task of voting doesn’t seem to arouse much suspicion of a moral dilemma in most people — myself included. Virtually the only thing all of our party élites seem to agree on is that everyone should vote no matter who it is that they vote for.  It seems to most people therefore, as not only a relatively innocent act, but even as a moral obligation.

Wendy McElroy sees it differently.

In this entirely engaging and interesting recent talk, Ms. McElroy gives a compelling argument exploring both moral and other reasons why we shouldn’t cast a ballot (or why we should spoil our ballots) in certain elections.

I am a regular voter, and I do plan on voting this Tuesday in the Canadian federal election, but the argument presented by Ms. McElroy is not silly.  In fact, Ms. McElroy’s argument is serious enough that I believe every responsible voter must address the argument one way or another even if one plans to continue voting in the future.  Ms. McElroy approaches her argument from a peculiar version of the anarchist school of thought rather than the Marxist and socialist schools of thought which I tend to emphasize here at Paulitics.  Unfortunately, however, this brand of anarchism is anarcho-capitalism which I strongly disagree with.  That said, I assure my regular traditional leftist readers that there is no element of pro-capitalist rhetoric in this particular conversation and I believe that regular anarchists, Marxists and left liberals can and should all give Ms. McElroy’s argument a serious airing.

Ms. McElroy’s arguments about voting as legitimizing élite-controlled democracy — or what we leftists used to more commonly refer to as bourgeois democracy —  I find very compelling.  On the other hand I was relatively unconvinced by the implication in her argument that voters who elect a government remain morally responsible for the authoritarian acts of said government even if they later withdrawn any moral or political support from the candidate or party in question.  For me, activism, agitation, disruption, organization and other subversive acts in between elections can absolve a voter from the moral culpability of electing an odious government into power.

But, nevertheless, I strongly encourage any regular Paulitics reader and any potential voter to listen to Wendy McElroy’s talk below before they consider voting.

Wikipedia editor censors Paulitics… again

Longtime readers of Paulitics may remember the incident during the 2007 Ontario General Election where right wing wikipedia editors tried to censor the Paulitics polling resources from the “external sites” section of the Ontario election wikipedia article.

The grounds for this move, of course as you may recall, were completely flimsy.  At first the argument was that there were already too many linked websites (even though there were fewer sites for that election in progress than there were for the as-of-yet to be announced 40th Canadian federal election wikipedia article).  The second argument was that my web page is partisan and highly opinionated (even though I didn’t link to ANY of my commentary and despite the fact that people of all ideologies use the Paulitics polling resource as their source for polling data).  Then, finally, the reasonable argument was made that I, as the owner of the blog, couldn’t continue to fight the edit war by reintroducing my site since that was a conflict of interest.  I accepted this argument and, at this point, a good Samaritan (Nick J Boragina) stepped in and went to bat for me.

Now, after well over a year being listed on the 40th General Election wikipedia article, some wikipedia user (I don’t know who) has removed Paulitics from the list of sites doing polling work and refused to include Paulitics among the sites that do seat projections (despite the fact that Paulitics was the #1 most accurate seat projection site for the 2007 Ontario election).

Is there a good Samaritan who will go to bat for me once again on Wikipedia?

Multiple new polls: If Tories continue to collapse like this, they won’t form government

With three polling firms now reporting in confirming this fact, it is now clear that the governing Conservatives are, for the first time in this election campaign, facing some real trouble.

Since September 27th, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have dropped 4.8% in the Paulitics Polling Resource.  What is more, this precipitous drop has now been confirmed by each of the big three polling firms which release daily tracking polls.

As the calculation illustrated right demonstrates, if the Conservatives continue on their current trend, it seems to me unlikely that they will form government even if all of this loss in support goes to the NDP, Greens and/or Bloc and not to the Liberals.


If the Tories don’t get a majority, thank the Bloc not the Grits, Greens or NDP

Having just finished a massive update to the Paulitics National Polling Resource, the Provincial/Regional Polling Resource, and the Seat Projection Meta-Analysis, there is one fact that has become abundantly clear:

If the Conservatives don’t get a majority, we should thank Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québecois, not the Dion Liberals, the May Greens, or Layton’s NDP.  Of all of the data uploaded this evening, the astonishing rise of the Bloc in Quebec (pictured below) is perhaps the most impressive.

Because of the Bloc’s rise, the Conservatives have dropped 10% in Quebec since September 13th.  In other words, 1 in 3 Tory supporters in Québec have abandoned that party since September 13th.

Moderator Steve Paikin held Layton down and let Harper take another shot

The English debates on Thursday night turned out to be much more exciting due to the inclusion of an additional debater in the televised debates.

No, no, I’m not referring to Elizabeth May, (although I thought her performance was both intelligent and effective).

No, I’m referring to Steve Paikin, the supposed ‘moderator’ of the debate.

Much to my disbelief, Paikin actually entered the debate himself after Stephen Harper reacted to Layton’s factually correct statement that Harper had been the head of an organization whose stated goal was (and still is) the destruction of Canada’s healthcare system.

Harper reacted by saying, “Let me just be very quick on this. I use the public health care system. My family uses the public health care system. In fact, in the last federal election campaign at one point it turned out I was the only national leader actually who had used exclusively the public health care system.” (source)

Harper was perfectly within his rights to make that point — in fact, in my opinion, it would have still been perfectly within his rights to even elaborate on the point and try to stick the knife into Layton further if he thought it would advance his case.  That’s debating.  That’s the whole point.  At the same time though, Layton should have been perfectly within his right to retort that he didn’t pay for his hernia operation, it was covered through his OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card and thus he never cue-jumped and never went outside the public health care system.

But what came next was completely unexpected.  ‘Moderator’ Steve Paikin actually stopped the debate there and entered the debate himself.  Just to make sure that the public understood precisely the reference that Stephen Harper was making, Steve Paikin not only repeated the claim himself, but further elaborated on it by giving the name of the clinic and so forth.  Paikin thus saved Harper from having to get himself bloody, by personally ensuring that the knife was into Layton deep enough.

Layton, obviously flummoxed by being attacked on both sides by the moderator and the Conservative leader, only retorted that the grand daughter of Tommy Douglas (an NDP supporter) thinks that that qualifies as public health care.

In my opinion, Layton collapsed like a house of cards for about the next 20 minutes of the debate, clearly having lost the vigour, energy and confidence that had characterized his performance prior to the Paikin incident.

Because of this incident, I was shocked to learn that Layton had placed second (behind Harper) in the English language debate according to the polling firm Ipsos-Reid.  I was certain that he would have fared much worse.

But then again, I thought that Gilles Duceppe slaughtered everyone else at the French Language debate, but Ipsos-Reid gave the debate to Dion (who I thought at best tied Harper for third behind Layton and Duceppe).  I also thought that the English debate would have been called for Elizabeth May who, in my opinion, was the winner, but Ipsos had her in third.

I guess I should get out of the debate predicting business and stick to the polling and seat projection business.

Tories recover on eve of election, but still down from 2006

The latest polls are certainly to be viewed as a mixed bag for all five of the major federal parties, save the Bloc Québecois.  For the latter, of course, there is little ‘mixed’ about the situation.  The Bloc’s situation appears to be moribund.

For the Tories, the latest polls have given them a slight bump (which will be accentuated when the latest Environics poll pegging the Tories at near-majority government level support is included in the Paulitics Polling Resource).  However, the Tories still remain down from their 2006 election showing by statistically significant margins despite being flushed with cash and despite their aggressive recent media buys.

For the Liberals, the recent polls have shown them slumping on the eve of the election — not exactly the best time to have a slump in popularity — and have not been able to break beyond a statistically-significant margin of their 2006 support in well over a year.  Still, on the other hand, the Paulitics Polling resource does show the Liberals as one of only two parties to rest above their 2006 levels of support, even if it is by a statistically insignificant margin.

For the NDP, after dipping badly in support, the recent polls have shown what must be a welcome up-tick in popularity back to within the margins of their respectable 2006 finish.  However, much like the Grits, the NDP have not been able to break out above their 2006 levels of support by a statistically-significant margin in well over a year.

For the Greens, after flirting with the 12 percent threshold in the Paulitics rolling-5 poll average for a time, the latest polls have witnessed a dramatic slump for the Greens back down to the 8 percent area of support.  That said, even if the Greens are able to hold on to this comparatively low level of support through to election day, they will still have roughly doubled their level of support since the previous election which is something that the other parties shall ignore only at their own peril.

For the Bloc, I have yet to update the Paulitics Provincial Polling Resource, so a complete picture of the carnage is not yet available at this time.  But, with that in mind, the latest provincial poll results from Leger Marketing put them at a dismal 30%.

Overall, even without the possibility of a legal battle over the constitutionality of the election itself, the election is shaping up to be an interesting one.

Just how big is Quebec’s shift away from the right wing? Pretty big

Given the recent provincial by-election results in the province of Quebec, bloggers and politicians everywhere have been talking about the results and their implications.

As with any event, it helps to actually review what happened and then, based on this, generate an analysis.  If we do it the other way around, we risk being like a Conservative cabinet minister who, during a Question Period session shortly after the by-elections, tried to ridicule Gilles Duccepe by saying that the by-elections were a huge victory federalists and a huge defeat for the PQ.  (I don’t remember which Tory cabinet minister it was who said it, but I remember being shocked when I heard it).

In fact, contrary to the Tories’ contention, both the by-election results and the recent provincial polling results show a rather different story.

First, the by-election results.

Simply put, the Tories’ closest provincial ally, the ADQ, witnessed a staggering collapse.  This is rather significant since the far-right ADQ is lead by Mario Dumont, a man who attracted the attention of the international press in 2007 and who was (appropriately, in my opinion) called “Canada’s Le Pen” by the U.K.-based newspaper The Independent (source).

In the three by-election ridings, the ADQ’s support collapsed to just over 1/3 of their formerly mighty self.  Now, even though none of these ridings were strong ADQ ridings, nothing I think could have prepared political observers for just how spectacular of a collapse the ADQ made.  For instance, in my riding (Hull), the ADQ dropped from being the 3rd place party to being dead last among the 5 main provincial parties with both the Greens and Québec solidaire (which is an amalgamation of left-wing provincial parties including the Quebec Communist Party) finishing above them.  In fact, only the tiny Parti indépendantiste did worse then the ADQ in my riding.

Turning to the province-wide provincial polling results since the last provincial election, we see an equally bleak picture for ‘Canada’s Le Pen’ and the far-right ADQ.

Following the last provincial election, the ADQ had actually improved over their provincial results and were polling as the #1 provincial party with seemingly prohibitive odds of forming the next provincial government, either minority or majority.

As you can see, Quebec’s repudiation of far right politics since that time, clearly extends beyond merely the three ridings which had by-elections earlier this month.

Now that it seems as though the Québecois are well on their way to throwing out their version of Le Pen and become once again a beacon to progressives throughout Canada, maybe Canadians can learn from this and get to work on throwing out their version of George W. Bush.


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