rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Who wins if the Alberta Legislature's fit to be tied?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

If you think the Alberta election campaign has been exciting up to now, just wait. Any minute now, someone's going to start shouting the C-word.

That's right: "Coalition."

Leastways, if the election is as close as is now being suggested, there’s a good chance the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Alison Redford and the Wildrose Party under Danielle Smith will emerge from the voting on April 23 with approximately the same number of seats.

Indeed, maybe those two right-wing parties should be listed in the opposite order. In yesterday’s edition of his Threehundredeight blog, polling analyst Éric Grenier argued that based on an aggregation of all recent polls, if an election were held tomorrow the far-right Wildrose Party would emerge when the dust settled holding a very narrow majority of 44 seats. Too narrow…

The Conservatives under Premier Doug Horner … whoops, I mean under Redford … would be down to 36 seats in Grenier's scenario yesterday. The NDP would hold four and the Liberals three.

That margin is not just slim, it's not even razor thin. Since somebody has to be the Speaker of the House, it's potentially a dead heat!

Chances are good, of course, that things won't work out exactly like that -- or even remotely like that. But that doesn't make this kind of speculation any less interesting. That's because there are lots of other scenarios possible if the current polling results remain roughly the same that could see the smaller opposition parties effectively holding the balance of power between the two conservative camps.

Grenier is basing his conclusions on an aggregation of all polls. It's a fact that some of those polls are better than others, and the polls that are most favourable to the Wildrose chances aren't necessarily the most methodologically sound. So, there could be a few more seats for Redford's Conservatives in that.

On the other hand, the neo-Con federal government of Stephen Harper is now seriously caught up in supporting its Wildrose ideological doppelganger. If the Harperistas haven't thrown in everything but the federal army to make sure change is in the Wildrose Party's favour on voting day, they're trending that way.

Already there are reports that when desperate Redford Tories approach trusted old retainers to take over the faltering PC campaign from strategist Stephen Carter, their former friends won't touch the job with the proverbial bargepole. The reason? They've been told clearly they'll never do another stick of work for Ottawa if they do.

This kind of thing may work and tilt things toward the Wildrose, which additionally seems to have more momentum than the PCs.

But by election day Alberta New Democrats and Liberals could see some growth too and end up holding more seats than Grenier's current analysis allows them -- say, five or six for the New Democrats and four or five for the Liberals.

In other words, there are several ways we could very well emerge from this exciting election with a minority government of either the Wildrose or Conservative variety and either the New Democrats or the Liberals in possession of enough seats to create an uneasy voting alliance with one or the other of the potential governments.

In such a situation, Alberta's Lieutenant-Governor -- Harper's man Don Ethell -- might actually have to do his job and ask both major contenders if they’re prepared to try to form a government.

Now, not one of the parties in this election has breathed a word about such an obvious possibility, though this should hardly surprise us.

The right-of-centre Liberals and left-of-centre NDP presumably fear this kind of talk will weaken their chances in ridings where the PCs will need moderate votes to defeat the Wildrose.

But since Redford's party will be pleading for those votes anyway, the negatives could be outweighed by the positives, at least in the NDP’s case. Surely NDP campaigners should be invigorated by the thought of their party holding the balance of power, even if it's a very thin-edged wedge, something that has benefited the party and the country whenever it has happened.

As for the Tories and the Wildrose Party, it's a certainty that neither of them would like this possibility even whispered in public because they're sure to be forced by both their hard-core supporters and their right-wing opponent to deny they'd ever consider such a heresy.

But that would mean they'd have to say a firm "No" now to something they might badly need to say "Yes" to later.

So, whether anybody likes it or not, the C-word is on the agenda, at least until the polls make another move that cancels out the possibility.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.