The Conservatives won a majority government in the last election with a voter turnout of 61.1%. Of the very few who took part, 39.6% voted Conservative. The majority of votes, however, were caste for a party on the left. Despite only a minority of Canadians voting for the right, the sole right-leaning Conservative Party won a majority.
Two options exist for the central-to-left parties to be more competitive in upcoming elections: to either merge or to pass legislation that changes the electoral system from simple plurality (first-past-the-post) to one of proportional representation.
Jean Chretien has noted that if a merger were to happen, it would happen quickly or not at all. He supports the Liberals and NDPs becoming one whereas Sheila Copps has been vocal against it on the Liberal’s side, and Libby Davies has been similarly vocal as an NDP.
Though I am strongly in favour of reform for a proportional representative electoral system, I think it unlikely. A merger is far easier to do and far more likely. But will it happen? A joining of the Liberals and NDP depend upon the differences between the two parties and if they are too great and how it would be received by Canadians who voted Liberal and NDP in the past.
With the current simple plurality system in place, merging left-leaning parties is the only realistic means of battling a united right. The only question is: would a merger alter past Liberal/NDP voters to support the Conservatives in the future? If the answer is no or negligible, the two parties should merge. The details of reconciling the differences between the two parties are all that would remain.
I. 2011 Election Results
II. Jean Chretien and Libby Davies’ stance
Sheila Copps’ position on a merger