Ford's divide and rule strategy and the collapse of OLP - what progressive voters' options?

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washim washim's picture
Ford's divide and rule strategy and the collapse of OLP - what progressive voters' options?

What Went Wrong for Wynne and OLP?

 

This election, a disaster for Premier Katelyn Wynne, is a catastrophe for the provincial Liberals. With Doug Ford coming in strong, a reinvigorated NDP has been playing a catch up strategy. Wynne’s “concession” of defeat, as it was reported in most media, was a last attempt to recover some ground. However, her Hail Mary did more damage and was not received by voters the way the OLP had hoped for. Wynne appeared to try and distance herself to encourage Ontarians to spare the OLP but it simply went to show that madam Premier should have removed herself from the race long ago.

 

Throughout late-2017 and early-2018, most polls showed that it was possible for the OLP to win another majority if Wynne herself was not leading the party. Ontarians still trusted the OLP  but desired fresh leadership. The OLP could have won another term. However, the Liberal caucus appeared to have been under the false pretence that they could successfully pull it off given the notion that most voters do not pay heed to provincial elections until the final two weeks.

 

The OLP was proven wrong then and now. With Wynne’s fatalistic announcement, she inadvertently nailed shut any hope for the OLP to rally an impact resistance. In political framing, to convince your listeners of with respect to the opponent, present the dilemma first and show that you transcend it and have a way out.

 

The OLP brass failed to appreciate the true dilemma faced by voters especially given the meteoric re-emergence of the Ford brand. Moreover, the OLP consistently stepped into their opponents’ political frame.

 

Ontarians face a dilemma where they must choose between a scandal-prone Ford regime, a collapsedWynne, and a flawed New Democrat platform. Progressive voters face a further challenge in trying to stop Ford. Whatever that may mean at this point, it gives them no choice but to resort to accept the NDP.

 

 

While Wynne tried to address the dilemma facing voters and the sociopolitical undercurrent by removing herself from returning to the premier’s office on Saturday, she failed to offer voters a way out. She walked into the frame of another opponent, the NDP, by offering the voters two choices – NDP and PC, both of which does her no good. This was a blessing for the NDP as they have been trying to convince progressive voters that they are the change Ontarians desire and only they can stop Ford conservatives. In this way, the NDP offered a way out for Ontarians while offering a their brand of change.

 

Wynne addressed a part of the dilemma by removing herself from the equation but she could have addressed the more important part by offering a way out. Wynne could have clarified explicitly that there will be a new OLP leadership and that the OLP would offer to work with the NDP in blocking Ford.

 

Furthermore, offering to work with the NDP would have forced Andrea Horwath to take a position on whether or not she is willing to work with the OLP to stop Ford. If the NDP agreed, it would have easily allowed voters sympathetic to the OLP to elect more Liberal MPPs to encourage the progressive voters to strategize their voting in ridings where they have a lead. If the NDP refused, it could have flipped the table for the OLP making Horwath’s roster of rookie NDP candidates look like over-ambitious yet novice partisans and not working in the interest of preventing a Ford win but to advance the NDP’s own political ambitions.

 

 

The PC’s divide and rule strategy – strategic voting is the only way:

 

Reimagine this election under Patrick Brown’s PC , Wynne’s OLP, and Horwath’s NDP – what do you see?

 

I see a typical Ontario provincial election in which PC wins the majority or a responsible minority. The OLP would then sit across as the official opposition and the NDP would remain the third child at Queen’s Park. This was the most common prediction by all observers and analysts until Brown was ejected and Doug Ford came to the fore.

 

While this election has become a Stop Ford campaign for both the NDP and the Liberals, for the Tories it is all about dividing progressive voters to win the election. The PC would also relish seeing the OLP, their strongest opponent, decimated to the point of losing official status to propel the NDP into the official opposition. This was only possible with Doug Ford because it was clear that Ontarians wanted an end to the Wynne government era and only a divisive candidate like Ford can polarize and split voters like he has.

 

The Ford campaign has been full of scandals and controversies from its beginning. It would be naïve to assume that the PC establishment did not foresee any of this. This was their strategy. Push progressive voters into a defensive position to split the votes. The risk to this strategy, however, was that it might cost them a majority government in the short term. I suspect that the PC establishment was comfortable with this, possibly inspired by Harper’s 2006 minority government, which later established itself as the majority government through 2008 and 2011 elections. For PC, if Ford can win a minority despite all the scandals and controversies, it can certainly win a re-election majority as Ford will be anointed and freed of all previous sins. This would leave opponents out of political ammunition. 

 

Progressive voters should be alarmed of the possibility of Ford winning even a minority by splitting the progressive vote as it will only strengthen the PC for future rounds. If the OLP loses its official status, it will become difficult to secure the media attention needed to wage a come-back. In the absence of a strong opponent like the OLP, a Ford cabinet will hammer the NDP due to its total inexperience. The result could be the rise of a new Ford era.

 

To prevent Ford’s PC to divide and rule, progressive voters must be strategic. The only way is to make sure that the votes are getting used to defeat PC candidates. In ridings where OLP historically led and has experienced candidates, voters should consider going against the province-wide trend and vote for OLP. Likewise, the ridings where NDP historically led, NDP candidates should prevail. If it comes to that point, both NDP and OLP can form a coalition to prevent Ford if they have enough seats together to defeat Ford. However, Ontarians will regret if they try to ride an orange wave hoping to defeat Ford. It will only split the progressive vote and give away a slew of seats to Ford.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

Nice thought. Might have worked if you started organizing it 5 weeks ago.

SocialJustice101

Every time the Cons are close to victory, there's talk of progressive co-operation and strategic voting.  Unfortunately, nothing concrete ever happens.      Most people don't know their riding's electoral history.  

The only concrete plan to stop the vote-splitting is to abolish FPTP and to implement PR.      I would also not object to merging the Liberals and the NDP, but too many people would be against this, unless both parties were struggling.

Pondering

There are extremely few "progressive voters". Most voters see themselves as centrists. Voters who really are progressive already vote NDP.

The NDP platform is the only one and it isn't particularly flawed. Anyone who would consider strategic voting will look into the numbers for their riding.  If they aren't into politics enough to do that then nothing anyone says is going to cause them to change.

NorthReport

The only way the PCs will be stopped is for all Liberal supporters to vote NDP which is not gonna happen so Ford will become Premier with a majority government

SocialJustice101

NorthReport wrote:

The only way the PCs will be stopped is for all Liberal supporters to vote NDP which is not gonna happen so Ford will become Premier with a majority government

Using the same logic, NDP supporters are responsible for Harper's victories in 2006 and 2008. 

bekayne

In the words of Dick Tuck (who died 9 days ago) : "The people have spoken-the bastards!"

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

bekayne wrote:

In the words of Dick Tuck (who died 9 days ago) : "The people have spoken-the bastards!"

One of my favourite political quotes ever. RIP Dick Tuck.

Pondering

But the people have not spoken yet.

washim washim's picture

@progressive17 - I wish I was the OLP strategist - could have turned the election around for better. 

 

NorthReport

There is only one way to stop Ford and that is to vote NDP. Liberals refuse so Liberals can take the credit, Liberals can take ownership, and Liberals can give themselves a pat on the back for electing Doug Ford.

Pogo Pogo's picture

The Wynne government was a failure and no amount of marketing was going to fix this.

SocialJustice101

Wynne made mistakes, but not as serious as, for example, Harris, who still got re-elected with a majority.    I believe Wynne's unpopularity is a result of multiple factors, such as 15 year OLP reign, being a woman, being LGBT, lack of charisma, corporate media propaganda, and privatization of Hydro One.

Overall, Wynne's fall from grace is consistent with any other female Premier.   We had 8, and only 1 of them got re-elected once.

NorthReport

To say nothing of falling out with at least some of the labour meovement. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

washim wrote:

@progressive17 - I wish I was the OLP strategist - could have turned the election around for better. 

 

OK. what would you have had them do(other than, obviously, stop ACTING like the OLP)?

Pondering

SocialJustice101 wrote:

Wynne made mistakes, but not as serious as, for example, Harris, who still got re-elected with a majority.    I believe Wynne's unpopularity is a result of multiple factors, such as 15 year OLP reign, being a woman, being LGBT, lack of charisma, corporate media propaganda, and privatization of Hydro One.

Overall, Wynne's fall from grace is consistent with any other female Premier.   We had 8, and only 1 of them got re-elected once.

She took voters for granted. She relied on staying just left of the Conservatives dismissing the NDP as a none choice.

Trudeau beat the NDP by going left of them socially. Social conservativism is on the wane. LGBTQ may not think they have won but they have. It's just a matter of time.

The Conservatives didn't want Ford. They knew their best shot at winning was to go with a boring candidate. Ford blew a commanding lead with his appeal to his social base. That alienated traditional Liberal voters and centrists. They left the centre wide open for the NDP. The NDP presented a Kevin Page approved economic platform.

I am on tenderhooks waiting for the results of the election but either way the NDP made impressive gains.

MapleInTheEye

SocialJustice101 wrote:

Every time the Cons are close to victory, there's talk of progressive co-operation and strategic voting.  Unfortunately, nothing concrete ever happens.      Most people don't know their riding's electoral history.  

The only concrete plan to stop the vote-splitting is to abolish FPTP and to implement PR.      I would also not object to merging the Liberals and the NDP, but too many people would be against this, unless both parties were struggling.

 

After 2011 I advocated for a merger between the federal NDP and Liberals, but since that time I have backed off that position.

Here is the dilemma: government works best when you have a clear government in power instead of 5 to 10 (or so, depending on the system) parties who don't like working with each other, none with a majority. In Canada, at all levels of government, we usually have 5 parties with 5%+ support: Liberals, Tories or one flavour or another, NDP, Greens, and separatist parties of one flavour or another.

It would be dishonest if we didn't state that the Liberals and the NDP play tit for tat in every election. 80-90% of the platforms are identical, the big rift between them usually is around labour rights.

BUT, we need political diversity. Merging two parties together where that 10-20% difference is real and tangible (labour rights is a big deal, it isn't just a small topic) isn't a good idea. Look at the USA, it has one of the least healthy civic systems in the western world and its completely bought off. There's only two choices from federal down to in many cases the local level, and in many parts of the USA its effectively a one party system on local and state levels. The USA has become the nation to look at for what not to do with a lot of things, it is a prime example of an unhealthy, two party (and in many areas one party) rule. Merging the parties offers less democracy. That's part of why I've changed tune and why I don't support a merger.

So we have a situation in Canada where most provinces (less true in Alberta than the rest) the progressive vote is usually far higher than the Tory vote. What are we to do? Would constant minority government be good if we implement mixed member proportional representation? Or would a ranked ballot be better?

In order to acheive both popular representation and good government, I think ranked/preferential balloting is the best idea. If your party choice can't form government, and you'd like to offer a second choice, it would avoid permanent minority government, but it would be a way to get people's voices heard. And we wouldn't end up with a Doug Ford where 60% of the public opposed what his platform stood for.