What’s an election without a couple of predictions? And to avoid any of that “I said that would happen!”/”No you didn’t!” stuff I thought I’d write down a few of mine. (And instead revel in the multiple “Boy, was that guy way off!” that will no doubt come my way.) So here are my thoughts as we head into the final hour of the Alberta provincial election every news outlet has already deemed “historic”.
Let’s start with the questions everyone will ask:
- Who will win? My bet is the Wildrose Party.
- Majority or minority? Minority.
- Seat breakdown? Your guess is probably as good as mine, but I’ll go:
- Wildrose: 40 (currently 4)
- Progressive Conservative: 38 (currently 66)
- Liberal: 5 (currently 8 ) – Some of those retiring seats won’t be replaced, many will go PC.
- NDP: 3 (currently 2) – Brian and Rachel get a new co-worker. Who? Could be a few tight races in Edmonton, but I’ll guess David Eggen squeaks this one out finally.
- Alberta Party: 1 (currently 1 who’s retiring) – I’ve got high hopes for Hinton mayor and party leader Glenn Taylor, so I’m willing to take a flyer on him.
- Yes, that shows either the Liberals OR the NDP holding the balance of power. I dream of a raucous session as you can see.
- Voter turnout? 65% (2008 was 40%, an all time low).
Now more fun predictions:
- Who ever wins my riding of Calgary-Klein will form the government.
- Win or lose Danielle Smith will take a shot at the PCs and their 41 years in government saying something like “FINALLY!” or “I’m disappointed we weren’t able to end it… yet.”
- Alison Redford will be gracious, all the while looking like she’d like to stick the knife in the Wildrose and twist it. Win or lose.
- Ron Leech doesn’t get the chance to speak for anyone other than himself.
- Allan Hunsperger won’t “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire”, AKA the Legislature, as voters accept he was born this way. But it will be close.
- Tomorrow there will be a government. (A stretch, but after this campaign you’d be forgiven if you thought the opposite.)
- It will take a looooonnnnnng time before final results are in and Twitter will be lit up with whiners wanting to go to bed.
- Speaking of Twitter: someone will make a dumb mistake and click on one of the dozens of spam #abvote tweets that looks like it’s coming from a sexy lady who happens to tweet every 18 seconds.
There’s a couple of my predictions. I’ll add more if I think of them, but please add yours in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!
I’m not a big fan of party politics. I could care less which party is in charge. I care more about who the people in government are and what kinds of decisions they make. [Note: This last sentence was cut from the printed version, but I thought it was important so I added it back in for my blog.]
With three leadership races going on at the provincial level there is an immense possibility for new leadership, some names are even being touted as leader for more than one party.
To that end I posted a poll on my blog to find out which individuals would make Albertans proud to have as premier; regardless of party affiliation. I invited readers to pick one of the recently rumoured candidates or to pick several — after all I doubt there is just one and one alone we’d be happy with and I suspect there might be one in more than one party.
I would never tout the results of my unscientific poll as looking anything like the possible outcome of an election, but there were some interesting outcomes which could indicate some emerging trends and give some food for thought.
First, the parties with established leaders in Brian Mason and Danielle Smith didn’t outpace as many of the potential candidates of other parties as I thought they would. This should indicate to the Progressive Conservatives and Alberta Party that at this point their eventual leaders are not as far behind in public consciousness as one might think.
The news is not as good for the Liberal party however. Of the rumoured candidates for its leadership, none of them made much of a blip. Kent Hehr did okay. It’s clear he would be the only current Liberal with a chance of righting their ship. Of course rumours also say he’s being wooed by the Alberta Party and the poll tells me he’d probably have more success there.
My informal poll also shows that the two front runners for the Progressive Conservative leadership are Doug Griffiths and Alison Redford. Their support is solid enough I would be shocked if either don’t run.
The numbers also illustrate many PC hopefuls such as Doug Horner and Jim Dinning would run in the middle of the pack and not make much of an impact in a general election. (Don’t forget this is what they said about Ed Stelmach too though.) However the vote for rumoured candidates Gene Zwozdesky, Gary Mar, Jonathan Denis and Ken Hughes was so abysmal I’m confident in saying unless they have a big game changer in their playbook that no one else has they should save themselves the time and embarrassment.
The big surprise in the poll however was a name I had heard rumoured six months ago but not lately, which I included on a whim. Chima Nkemdirim, someone I thought would have polled near the bottom instead was right at the top. Nkemdirim is Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s chief of staff. If he were to run, I’m confident he’d make a big splash with broad based support from all areas of the political spectrum.
I’m not a fan of party politics. Quite frankly I could care less which “party” is in charge. I care more about who the people in government are and what kinds of decisions they make. With three leadership races going on at the provincial level there is an immense possibility for new leadership, some names are even being touted as leader for more than one party.
To that end I wanted to post a poll here on the blog to find out who would make you proud to have as our premier. Regardless of party affiliation. So have at it. Pick one or pick several. Who do you think would do a good job?
If you’d like me to add more names to the poll, just leave them in the comments.
While the timing of today’s announcement by Premier Ed Stelmach may be a surprise, his resignation itself should not be. For months there have been grumblings about how the Progressive Conservative party will handle the next election.
The Wildrose Party has positioned itself as an heir apparent making room for all Alberta conservatives. Meanwhile disenfranchised progressives – mainly, but not exclusively PC members – have been toying with what the Alberta Party could be for them. In short, the party that’s been in power for 40 years was being torn in two with only the most ardent supporters who have fought tooth and nail to get where they were inside the party remaining loyal.
Observers and every PC insider knew something had to give. Polls, predictions and even gut feelings all were showing that with Stelmach leading the party into an election they were going to take a beating on all fronts. My prediction was a minority PC government being the outcome. To many, this was a best case scenario.
PC members aren’t stupid however. They could see the future coming too. With so much outsider anger (and even insider for that matter) directed at Stelmach’s seeming inability to gain enough traction with Albertans his fate was sealed. It was just a question whether he stepped aside before or after the next election. Obviously he’d prefer to wait to do it on his own terms, but as things got more and more dim for his party’s future, more and more of his own caucus mates began pondering how to speed things up to save the entire party. And their own seats.
Given all this there was a small movement afoot within caucus to push Stelmach out. However things hadn’t gotten dire enough for it to be a full blown organized coup yet. But if things did get worse, it would be. And for the internal politics of the party to blow up so close to an election would have all but handed the premier’s seat to Danielle Smith. Stelmach, a 25 year veteran, must have seen this too. And so he decided to do what was best for him and his entire party. Today he swallowed his pride and jumped on the grenade.
The table is clear now. The future is whatever the PCs make of it. The Stelmach baggage is gone and there is still enough time for a new leader to set a new tone to rival the other parties and win voter support. The party has had its biggest burden lifted. They still have lots of baggage, but it’s now at least more similar in size to that of it’s competitors.
Next in part 2: what the resignation means for opposition parties.
It seems strange to me to congratulate someone who is effectively spewing venom. But I feel proud of Rob Anderson for switching allegiance from the Alberta PCs to the Wildrose Alliance. No sooner had he made the announcement and he began immediately exposing the dark corners of the Government he had supported and loved so dearly not so long ago.
To do this takes gumption and honesty. It could not have been an easy decision, but assuming he is telling the truth, it is clearly one based on morality and I applaud him for this. We need more politicians who are willing to be open and honest with the public and who are willing to stake their career on correcting their mistakes.
Yet, that is where my applause for his and Heather Forsyth’s defection ends.
If you don’t read many Alberta political blogs then you probably haven’t seen an interesting phenomenon happening coming out of the Reboot Alberta conference. Average citizens who attended – and many who didn’t – have been taking the time to put into writing what they believe the definition of “progressive” is. “Progressive” being what Rebooters have branded themselves as. (My own thoughts on the subject will come in the near future in the form of a series of posts.)
In my mind, I find myself amazed at the number of Albertan’s taking the time, through this difficult exercise, to try and spell out what they want their province to look like – and how Alberta might get from where it is now, to that point.
I’m not seeing this kind of open idealogical and policy development happening with the Wildrose Alliance and that concerns me. Hardly anyone is talking about what it means to be a Wildrose supporter. Especially before choosing to become one.
Up until this point the majority of what the general public has seen is a party which is defining itself via negative statements: i.e. “We are not the Tories.” This was perhaps most clearly stated during the Calgary-Glenmore by-election when the slogan the Wildrose Alliance staked their claim with was “Send Ed a Message”. There was nothing in there about how their position would be any different, but that’s okay because it tapped into a societal urge to do just that: send Ed a message. (Remember the Liberals did come in second in the race, also beating out the PC candidate. Meaning many voters chose to send a message too, just via a different channel.)
The problem with defining yourself in such a way is you’ve left the power to define you in the hands of your opposition. It would be very easy for Ed Stelmach to simply illustrate ‘the message was received’ and suddenly you’re brand has dried up. To be truly effective, the Wildrose Alliance are going to have to illustrate what they are and just what they are not.
So who is the Wildrose Alliance? What do they stand for?
From the policy documents on their website and what their leader Danielle Smith has said in the media, I think they can be summed up as offering ‘change’ or ‘something different’. While this doesn’t help solve my previous point it’s not a bad horse to hitch your wagon to. After all, it worked for Barack Obama.
But the point with Obama was, he really did represent a different way of doing things. (Arguments can be made that his results so far have been the same, but his methods have been near polar opposites of his predecessor.) I’m not convinced yet that the Wildrose Alliance really does offer a different way of doing things.
Case in point the addition of Anderson and Forsyth. If you’ve staked your entire brand on the fact you are different than the PC Party, how can you accept two of their MLAs as your own? This appears to be a quick – albeit short-term helpful – abandonment of the central pillar of the brand.
Yet, I think it goes deeper than just this. From what I’ve been told, the Wildrose Alliance party was founded by former PC supporters who feel the party has lost its way over the past however many years. Anderson and Forsyth and the framing of the by-election victory illustrate this disillusion as well.
Here’s my point: if voters are looking for something new – how does the Wildrose Alliance represent anything other than simply the PC Party of the past? That’s not new, that’s simply slapping a new coat of paint on the same thing we’ve already had before. Change for the sake of change, if you will.
I’m not deluded however. This alone may be enough to hand them a majority in the next election. The Liberals – despite David Swann’s best efforts – are looking to do nothing more than change their logo, while the Alberta NDP plod along contemplating no change of any kind. When these are the options you are up against, the Wildrose’s fresh face with the same tired out plan might be more than enough.
I may be wrong, but it strikes me the public don’t just want new people doing the same thing we’ve done before. If given the option, they want Alberta politics to be done in completely different – and better – way.
So far as I can see right now, those bloggers typing out their thoughts on what the province could be are the only ones offering anything “new”. And that’s too bad they’re the only ones.