By-election expectation

In addition to each party dismaying of its chances—the Conservatives, for instance, are suddenly quite keen on Michael Ignatieff—it will no doubt be said over the next two months that by-elections naturally favour the government or opposition.

Here then is Wikipedia’s list of federal by-elections. By my count—excluding the case of Bill Casey, the Conservative MP who was expelled from caucus, won as an independent and was succeeded, after retiring, by a Conservative—the government of the day has held 22 of the 31 seats contested in by-elections over the last 30 years. Opposition parties—again excluding the Casey situation—have held 26 of 38 seats.

By respective percentage, governments held 71% of the time, opposition parties held 68% of the time.

By total seats, governments went into those 69 by-elections with 30 seats and emerged with 29.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.