UPDATED: Oh, Canadians. Why must you confound conventional wisdom like this?

Nearly half of Canadians support the idea of a coalition government

UPDATED: Oh, Canadians. Why must you confound conventional wisdom like this? Just when we-the-media-and-friends had finally come to the conclusion that coalition governments were something up with which you totally would not put, we get this from Harris-Decima, via Canadian Press:

Despite the apparent weariness with minority governments, the poll suggested that slightly more Canadians — 45 per cent versus 42 per cent — would support the idea of a coalition government after the next election.

At this point, I really have to wonder: Are you just messing with our heads? Do you want to drive Colleague Potter round the bend?  Because that would just be — mean. We try so hard to understand you, but just when we think we’ve finally got a read on where you stand, we suddenly spot you off in the distance, waving cheerfully.

Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings — or at least, bad from the perspective of 42% of you — but the likelihood of any of the parties actually campaigning on an openly pro-coalition ticket is pretty much nil, because at least two of the leaders are privately convinced that they can win all by themselves, and one of them is almost certain to be right.

The only way you’ll end up with that coalition — which, I might remind you, you came out against so vehemently during The Madness that the new Liberal leader has spent a good chunk of the early days of his tenure reassuring you that he had absolutely no interest of getting tangled up in that sort of thing again, thank you very much, while the prime minister is widely rumoured to be preparing to make your alleged antipathy thereto a centrepiece of his next election campaign  — is if the next election results in an even more tenuous minority than we saw in 2006; one in which the government and the official opposition are separated by less than, say, ten seats. (A brief tangent: ITQ once spent an evening trying to figure out the most unstable parliament possible under current mathematics; the answer, she concluded, is 78/78/77/75.)

Even then, it’s unlikely, since — again, this is the problem with the whole ‘hey, let’s elect a coalition government this time and see how that works’  idea, bless your politically adventurous little hearts  — under that sort of scenario, both leaders would doubtless operate under the theory that the next time around, they’d do better, so there would be little incentive, from their respective points of view, to hunker down and make the best of things. Well, other than the howls of “But Canadians don’t want an election!” that would ensue at the first – and every subsequent – confidence vote, but see above re: your relentlessly mercurial nature.

So anyway, if you can’t have a coalition government — which you almost certainly can’t, as labouriously explained above — you have also apparently decided that, all things considered, you’d prefer a majority to a minority, which is fair enough, really, considering what you’ve seen over the course of the last three minority parliaments:

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey showed 64 per cent of respondents prefer a majority over a minority government, up from 52 per cent two years ago.

Only 24 per cent said they preferred a minority, as compared to 36 per cent in 2007.

“What people went in with the hopes of was that it would help facilitate more coalition-building and more consensus-building within the parties, but in practice what it has yielded is more conflict with the parties and less getting done,” said Jeff Walker, senior vice-president at Harris-Decima.

In another question, the pollsters gave respondents four different scenarios to ponder: A Liberal majority or minority, or a Conservative majority or minority.

The Liberals came out on top in both respects — with 30 per cent preferring a Liberal majority, and 14 per cent a Liberal minority, as compared to the 24 per cent who backed a Conservative majority and nine per cent who wanted a Conservative minority.

Unfortunately, given the above numbers, it would seem that 54% of you are destined to be disappointed, and no, I don’t know what happened to the other 23%; we can only assume that they picked none of the above when presented with the listed scenario. Perhaps they were miffed that the other three parties were left off the list.

Anyway, I know some of y’all are sick to death of ITQ’s poll-related posts, but I figured this one might get a pass from the commentariat, since it’s at least not another freeze framed horse race. Have at it!

UPDATE: Hurray! The full results are now online — and gosh, they’re interesting. Turns out that, with the obvious exception of Alberta, it is Ontarians who are most wary of a coalition government. It’s worth noting that the survey actually asks whether voters would support a coalition after electing another minority government, which means that it wouldn’t require the parties involved to campaign openly to govern cooperatively with one of their opponents. Which is probably good news for everyone but the Conservatives, since they’re the ones who would most benefit from the fear of the formation of a post-election coalition. Also – and this isn’t terribly surprising – it is Conservative voters who are most strongly opposed to a coalition, which is likely because they realize that their party of choice would have the most trouble finding a partner in a minority parliament.

Oh, and on the majority/minority question, it seems that only in Alberta do the Conservatives find majority support for the government winning either a majority or a minority next time around; everywhere else, the preference seems to be for a Liberal majority-or-minority. Make of that what you will.

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