Live from the Tar Sands: Alberta Provincial Election Blogging: The voters of Alberta are less enamored of their traditional conservative political masters, but the voters are not behind the new left-wing NDP provincial government to be led by Rachel Motley.
The seats and votes:
- NDP: 53 seats 41% votes
- WRP: 21 seats 24% votes
- PCP: 10 seats 28% votes
- LIB: 1 seat 4% votes
- AP: 1 seat 2% votes
- GRN: 0 seats 1% votes
Note that in the 2012 provincial election:
- The Wildrose Party (WRP) took 34% of the vote (up from 7%) and won 17 seats.
- The Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) took 44% of the vote (down from 53%) and won 61 seats
- The Liberal Party took 10% of the vote (down from 26%) and won 4 seats.
- The New Democratic Party took 10% of the vote (up from 2%) and won 4 seats.
- The Alberta Party took 1% of the vote (up from 0%) and won 0 seats.
The right over the past three elections has taken 59%-78%-52%. The left over the past three elections has taken 35%-20%-45%. We thus see structural conservative dominance plus considerable tactical voting. And we see a unique opportunity for the left this year because (a) the right is relatively weak, (b) the right is evenly split, and (c) the New Democrati Party put on a much more impressive show than the Liberal Party.
The NDP will now try to make Alberta a better place in order to better face what is highly likely to be a united WRP-PCP slate in the next provincial election.
But to say, as Dan Meades does, that "the people of Alberta were willing to listen to an alternative view... plummeting oil prices and... layoffs... an austerity budget... the larger conservative narrative crumbled..." seems to me simply wrong: the two conservative parties still took an absolute majority, and the NDP is very unlikely to repeat unless the right remains more-or-less evenly split.
...Imagine that Texas just overwhelmingly elected a legislature dominated by a left-wing party that opposes major oil pipeline projects; promises a core review of the obligations that oil and gas companies have to their communities; and favors fundamentally rethinking the tax structure toward large-scale redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Oh, and it's going to insist that climate change is real, man-made, and should bear on any policy that involves burning more hydrocarbons. Even this comparison is tough, because Americans don't support a mainstream party as unabashedly left-wing as the NDP....
Rachel Notley... as of last night, is Alberta's premier-designate.... Her father was once the leader of the Alberta NDP but never had anywhere near the success that his daughter achieved.... In late 2012, Rachel told me the tide could turn, that the people of Alberta might, just might, tire of conservative ideology. A couple of years later Notley became the party leader just months before a snap election was called.... At the time, the NDP held only four seats of the 87 seats in the legislature—the definition of a non-factor.
The difference this year was that the people of Alberta were willing to listen to an alternative view. A year of plummeting oil prices and the layoffs they wrought showed many Albertans how flimsy the economic plan was in the province, predicated as it was on a presumption of endless abundance. Falling oil prices led to an austerity budget from the sitting Progressive Conservative government. We were told that as long as we gave oil sands companies total control, we would reap the economic rewards. Once that was proven to be untrue, the larger conservative narrative crumbled.
The NDP's platform was clearly aimed at scraping the government and the provinces wealth back somewhat from oil interests... called for a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties... proposed... a Resource Owners Rights Commission to review the royalties oil companies pay... boosting in the corporate tax rate to 12 percent from 10 percent.... sought to increase the minimum wage from $10.20 now to $15 an hour by 2018, and to scale up the high-income tax brackets.... Notley was the perfect person to deliver that message. Voters rewarded her party with 53 seats in the legislature, an increase of more than twelve-fold....
The people of Alberta have always been proud of their conservatism. Some, smug in the dynasty, ribbed those of us who lived and worked there trying to address the consequences of this conservatism: poverty, homelessness, income inequality. Tuesday night brought a strange vindication for us progressives who were so often brow-beaten by the abundance of the oil resources. The deep, wide wealth the boom brought made it impossible to challenge the status quo of economic and social policy, let alone environmental concerns. Now the NDP has a chance to govern, with the potential to expand political discourse all over North America. Progressive Texans south of the forty-ninth parallel would do well to take notes.