It's about two months until the election back in Newfoundland and Labrador. Obviously, I'm not on the ground, which means distance is giving me problems in making completely accurate assessments about what's going on back in the old stomping grounds. Although if plans hold I'll probably be back in the province the week of the election, so that'll be interesting.
But I guess distance has its advantages. I tend to look at the election from a different point of view than if I was there. I have a bit more of emotional distance from it. Rightly or wrongly I'm looking at it more from a strategy/game point of view than the "which party is best to run the province?" which is the correct way to look at these things.
So looking at the landscape right now, I'm beginning to form a potentially interesting theory. That we could see a minority government after this election.
Yes, I'm crazy. Hang in there with me for a second.
The province is in a rare bubble where there is no cult of personality type of leader heading any of the three political parties. I honestly can't think of the election where that was the case. Williams, Tobin, Wells, Peckford, Moores and Smallwood all fit that role. People voted for them as much as they did the party. Especially Williams. If he came out of retirement right now and decided to run under the Danny Party this election, no only would about 2/3rds of the Tory caucus defect, he would also still probably win 40 seats.
But Dunderdale, Jones and Michaels are nobody's idea of a cult of personality type of leader. I'm sure they're liked within their party (well, not sure about Dunderdale), but they don't exactly set the public's imagination on fire. That means there's no strong leader to come into a riding and ride roughshod or save a weak candidate. It now means individual candidates are going to have to stand on their own merit more and local issues are going to come much more into play.
That can be potentially very messy. For example, how pissed off are the people in the Burin and Bonavista peninsula areas with the government over the Hurricane Igor response?
And what about St. John's? Both seats went NDP in the last federal election and they're clearly thinking they can get more than their traditional one seat in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. The fact that they have more of their candidates in place at this point in time than the Liberals is interesting. The fact that staunch Liberals like Ed Hollett and Simon Lono are taking as much time bashing the NDP online these days as they are the Conservatives says to me they are concerned they could actually pick up seats.
How many? I could see the NDP getting a half dozen seats, perhaps more. They take a bunch of riding around the city, maybe one in Labrador or something and there you go. So say they pull six or seven seats. That means all the Liberals need is 18 seats or so to make a proper mess of things. It may happen, it may not. But I think in the heat of the election anything is possible.
So yeah, that's my longshot prediction - A Liberal minority government. Although that does depend on the Liberals getting their act together more than they seem to right now. Hell, the other weird thing could be a repeat of what happened federally - a Conservative government with an NDP opposition.
I'm just saying, it has the potential to be the first interesting election the province has seen in more than 20 years. Like anything, time will tell.
1. Come on Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners*
2. Matt Eiley - Figgy Duff
3. Killing the blues - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
4. Surprise - Sean Panting
5. We've got tonight - Bob Seger