Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are Voters Actually Paying Attention?

Elections Canada is reporting high turnout in the advanced poll. Undoubtedly, this is largely due to the fact that the advanced poll fell over the Easter long weekend when people had time to get out and vote. I took advantage myself on Saturday, casting my ballot for Andrew Lang in Toronto-Danforth. If I have some time in the next couple of days, I may do some analysis on where the increased turnout was. I've just glanced at the data a few quick observations:
  • Helena Guergis may have more life in her than people think. Almost, 15,000 of the around 100,000 electors in Simcoe-Grey turned out to vote. Only about 60k have voted in the last three elections. That makes 15% turnout in the advanced impressive.
  • The long weekend certainly helped turn out the vote in the NCR. With all three advanced polls falling on federal holidays/weekends, turnout surged. Over 10k in Ottawa South, Ottawa Centre, Ottawa OrlĂ©ans, and Gatineau . Almost 17k votes cast in Ottawa-West Nepean.
  • Advanced polls are not for everyone. Toronto has some shockingly low numbers. Less than 3k in York South Weston and York West. Even hotly contested Eglinton--Lawrence had just 7500 votes cast. One must remember that ridings within a province start relatively equal in total population, not in total number of voters. This means that while there are 114000 + people in York South Weston only around 67000 were eligible to vote as of the last election. Ridings like Simcoe-Grey with older populations and fewer new Canadians will usually have larger numbers of voters (97k out of 125k).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Return of.... Seat Projections!

Very exciting news boys and girls. I have resurrected my seat projections! If the election were called today, All Politics is Local projects: yet another Tory minority! The numbers for your interest:

National 147 83 35 42 1
NL 0 6 1 0 0
PE 0 4 0 0 0
NS 4 5 2 0 0
NB 6 3 1 0 0
QC 13 18 2 42 1
ON 52 39 15 0 0
MB 9 1 4 0 0
SK 13 1 0 0 0
AB 28 0 0 0 0
BC 22 5 9 0 0
North 1 1 1 0 0

I haven't run one of these in a while and frankly I think the data may be a spitting out a screwy result. The NDP surge in Quebec worries me, in terms of my accuracy. My model is better suited to slight shifts, not giant surges. Right now, my model is saying the NDP surge will come at the expense of the Bloc and might actually help the other two federalist parties. Could happen. The vote splits in Quebec will be fascinating come election night.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goodluck, Goodluck

In my ongoing quest not to have any readers, I'll continue my look at elections around the world that actually really matter, but no one in Canada seems to care about. Today, news that incumbent Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan has won re-election. This has caused rioting in the rebellious north. Nigeria has been in quasi-civil war for a while now. The Muslim population in the north which is actually the majority has ongoing conflicts with the oil controlling south which is predominantly Christian. Goodluck Jonathan is a southern Christian, which along with allegations of fraud explains the rioting. It's hard to classify the ongoing conflict in Nigeria, like the conflict in Sudan as purely religious or purely about oil or about something else entirely. What is true, is that it is ongoing and resolution does not appear to be close at hand.

However, geopolitically and economically we would do well to pay attention to Nigeria. First and foremost Nigeria is big. 155 million people call Nigeria home and Nigeria is very much at the centre of West African politics and African politics generally. Nigeria is also oil rich and as a member of OPEC provide oil to a large part of the Western world with oil (particularly the US). This oil wealth makes a stable Nigeria essential right now with the ongoing conflict in Libya already giving oil markets fits. The threat to the oil supply is real, as northern rebels often sabotage pipelines and take other steps to undermine the oil trade to make their political points. Goodluck Jonathan came to power after a very strange period of time when the last President was rumored to be dead and no one quite knew where he was. He now has his own mandate and hopefully will be able to bring order and peace to the 155 million people he now must govern.

Monday, April 18, 2011

EU Bailouts Finnished?

While Canadians will go to the polls on May 2nd, Finns went to the polls yesterday and elected a new government. Well, actually they re-elected the existing government... well sort of. The leading party, the centre-right National Coalition Party won the most seats and will form government. How they form that government got a lot more complicated after their former allies the Centre Party lost 16 seats and no longer has the seats to prop up the government. The only real winner on the night were the True Finns who went from being marginal to the third largest party in what can be best described as a pizza parliament. The True Finns are yet another example of the xenophobic neo-nationalist parties gaining in popularity across Europe. Most problematic for the world outside of Finland is that the True Finns hate the EU and positively loathe the bailouts given to EU bankrupts Greece and Ireland. The True Finns want no part of further bailouts and with Portugal and Spain on the rocks, this is worrying because the Euro zone needs unanimity to approve the bailouts. It's a long way from Helsinki to Lisbon. That distance didn't get any shorter this weekend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Can You Appease a Sleeping Giant?

This weekend in Montreal the Parti Quebecois is holding a convention. They gave their leader Pauline Marois a 93% confidence vote. If any time in opposition can be considered good times, these are good times for the PQ. The Quebec Liberal Party and Premier Jean Charest are about as popular as the Boston Bruins. The widely held consensus among the pundits and prognosticators is that barring a major reversal of fortune, Pauline Marois will be elected as the new premier of Quebec in the next election. That election will likely take place sometime in the next 24 months. Yes, boys and girls the separatists will be back in power in Quebec by sometime in 2013. This means for the first time in a decade, the threat of separation will be wielded by a government in power.

Why mention this in the middle of a federal election? I mention this because our current federal leaders seem to have given up the good fight of selling the idea of Canada to Quebeckers. Mr. Harper who brought forward the sordid Quebec nation resolution five years ago has never believed in a strong federation and seems content to give away the store to try to avoid the issue. Mr. Layton wants to limit the use of English in federal offices in Quebec. For his appeasing and the personal popularity of presumed leader-in-waiting Thomas Mulcair, the NDP is in record territory in Quebec. Finally, and most distressing for me, the Liberal Party, the traditional defenders of this country as a country, as more than a collection of provinces is led by a man who seems almost sublimely unaware of the problem. Let us not forget that it was Mr. Ignatieff and his musings in 2006 that led to the nation resolution that M. Duceppe beat the other leaders over the head with during the debates this week. How will any of these leaders stand up and defend a united Canada if and when Mme. Marois takes Quebeckers back into a referendum after they've already conceded so much sovereignty already?
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