JOURNAL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS

JOURNAL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS

SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS, MGIMO UNIVERSITY, RUSSIA

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MGIMO Institute for International Studies Publishes Article in Leading European International Relations’ Journal

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The Results of Parliamentary Elections in Canada: a Comparative Analysis of the 2015 and 2019 Cases

Elizaveta Khasanova,
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University

Abstract: This article is devoted to a comparative analysis of two results of parliamentary elections which took place in 2015 and in 2019. It presents the major reasons for the attaining the majority and losing it four years after. The article also shows the role of political parties in Canada and influence on people’s politics.

Key words: Canada, parliamentary elections, the House of Commons, the Liberal Party, the Liberals, the Conservative party, the Conservatives, political parties.

The Canadian federal election was held on October 21 in 2019. During them new members of the House of Commons to the forty-third Parliament were elected. Moreover, the results of the parliamentary elections showed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a leader of the Liberal Party, managed to take and save his office. However, he lost the majority of votes, which he had won in the 2015 Canadian federal elections. So, the Liberals had to give way to the Conservatives that won 121 seats and became popular in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the Liberals were not able to gain victory. Why did it happen? Why was it impossible to repeat the results of the year of 2015? I would like to present a comparative analysis of two years of Parliament election results and find out the reason for Liberal’s party failure.

First of all, I would like to consider the results of parliamentary elections in 2015. These elections represent quite an intriguing example of the political parties’ influence on the social and political life of this highly developed state. Of course, there are several reasons for that. First and foremost, the victory of the Liberal party led by Justin Trudeau in the parliamentary elections on 19 October 2015, and an absolute majority, consisting of 184 seats in the house of Commons, confirmed the trend existence in Canada classic two-party system of Anglo-Saxon type, when one party is in power and another in opposition to it. Moreover, such trend has been consistently stable throughout the development of the Canadian state, and especially in its newest period. Certainly, it is clear to understand the politics of Canadian people: they tend to vote for only two parties such as the Liberals and the Conservatives. So, Canadian voters prefer a peaceful and evolutionary way of development of the state, without social upheavals, radical approaches and methods. It is this way of social development that they associate with the second half of the XIX century. That means that the trend of Canadian voters ' adherence to the traditional two-party Anglo-Saxon system at the Federal level is long-standing and defines the nature of Canada's political system. Secondly, parliamentary elections show that despite all the efforts of such party as New Democratic Party it failed to take the office. The party did not manage to become a real political alternative to the conservatives and liberals. New Democratic Party got only 19.71% of the popular vote and 44 seats in the house of Commons led by their new leader, T. Mulcaire, the new Democrats essentially returned to the results of the 1984 and 1988 parliamentary elections, when, under the leadership of the talented leader E. Broadbent, they managed to win 18% of the vote and 30 seats in the house of Commons in 1984, and 20% of the vote and 43 seats in the house of Commons in 1988. Undoubtedly, the new Democrats cannot fully bring the left-center agenda to Canadian voters. The main reason for the failures of the new Democrats lies in the crucial features of the political culture of Canada. In this regard, it should be noted that the ideas of social democracy are not shared by the majority of voters in North America. Social democracy in Canada, unfortunately, is perceived as a radical political ideology of the development of Canadian society, opposing liberalism and conservatism, which does not share the interests of a significant part of the electorate. Therefore, certain adjustments to the election programs of the new Democrats, made by their leaders on the eve of certain parliamentary elections, do not bring fruitful results. Canada, as a former British colony turned out to be more committed to conservative-liberal ideology than Great Britain. That’s why the ideas of social democracy cannot be suitable to Canadian nation and its reality. Thirdly, the 2015 parliamentary election resulted in the defeat of the Conservative party led by S. Harper, which won 31.89% of the popular vote and 99 seats in the House of Commons, giving way to the Liberal party, which became the ruling party. However, this defeat was not critical for the Canadian conservatives, as it was earlier in Canadian history, for example, in 1993. It was determined by the following circumstances: first of all, some fatigue of the Canadian electorate from the Conservative party, which has been in power without interruption since 2006, but has been very successful in its domestic and foreign policy. Obviously, the results of parliamentary elections demonstrate that there is a significant influence of conservatism and liberalism on Canadian political life. The example of these elections shows that Canadian voters are more receptive to the political ideologies of liberalism and conservatism, which they associate with the traditional Anglo-Saxon two-party system.

So, why has the Liberals lost the majority in Parliament and had to deal with only 121 seats? Nowadays Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had good news and bad news. Good news are that he managed to maintain his authority. Nevertheless, there are bad ones. Trudeau’s rating began to plummet even before the start of the election campaign on September 11. Definitely, it was connected with the latest scandals in which he was involved. The first blow to the rating was dealt after a disastrous trip to India - in photos from there, the Trudeau family appeared in traditional Indian outfits. The second one is the scandal amid accusations of trying to influence the criminal case of the Canadas largest engineering and construction company. The third scandal is the sacking of Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson Raybould who is an ardent critic of Trudeau. Furthermore, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the West voted entirely for the main opposition party - the Conservative. The only enclave in the West is the city of Edmonton, which traditionally votes for the New Democrats.

The conservatives received slightly more votes than the liberals - 34.5% to 33%. This "blue wave" (blue is the color of the Canadian conservatives) brought Trudeau's rivals another 30 seats in Parliament. The number of conservative MPs in the lower house rose from 95 to 122. Moreover, there is another party which has just returned to the political arena. It is “Bloc Québécois”, a party of the French-speaking province of Quebec. During the previous two election campaigns, voters did not pay much attention to it, but everything changed after the party was led by Yves-Francois Blanchet. "Quebec bloc" managed to increase the number of seats more than three times-from ten to 32. The party disagrees with Trudeau on a large number of issues, the most tensive of which is Quebec's religious attributes act, which prohibits judges, police officers, teachers and public servants from wearing religious symbols in the performance of their duties. However, the results do not imply a complete failure for the Liberals. If Trudeau wants to continue remaining his power he needs other parties’ support. That is New Democratic Party which can really give him a helping hand in coping with a motion of no confidence and adopting new laws. So, this fact is completely contrary to the ideas of social democracy in Canada. Every cloud has a silver lining: Canadian voters still support Trudeau’s climate change issues which means that the Conservatives who don’t share the same point of view can change anything. As long as the liberals remain in power, Prime Minister’s carbon tax is likely to remain in force. Trudeau will be easy enough to enlist the support of other parties on issues of environmental protection.

Summing up, I would like to say that the results of two parliamentary elections are quite different and there was a strong social influence on them which connected with people’s politics, Canadian and worldwide political events and confidence level in current government. It shows that Canadians actually desire to see new leaders who can bring new worthy changes to the country.

References

  1. The Guardian: “Justin Trudeau violated law by urging that case be dropped-watchdog: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/14/trudeau-broke-ethics-law-in-snc-lavalin-case-watchdog-rules
  2. The Washington Post: “Trudeau’s India trip is a total disaster – and he has only himself to blame”: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/14/trudeau-broke-ethics-law-in-snc-lavalin-case-watchdog-rules
  3. BBC News: “Canada election: Trudeau’s Liberals win but lose majority”, 22 October 2019: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50134640
  4. Andrey N. Komarov, Natalya P. Komarova, Political Parties of Canada and Parliamentaru Elections of 2015: https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/politicheskie-partii-kanady-i-parlamentskie-vybory-2015-g/viewer