I'm betting on a fall election

The current mania around a spring election has started to fade, especially with Dion beginning to say the Liberals might not bring down the government over the budget.

There are good strategic reasons for this.

If, as it would appear. the economy is beginning to worsen, then the Liberals have every reason to delay. Governing parties tend to do worse when the economy is poor, so if things are getting worse, better to wait and trigger an election later when the pain of a shrinking economy is more apparent.

This alone, would be a good reason to wait. But there is another related reason to wait for the fall, and it has to do with the American election.

South of the border the Democrats will also be pounding away on the fact that the economy has run aground – in their case, they’ll blame George Bush and the Republican Party. The Liberals will stand to benefit from this in two important ways. First, the general theme of “a bad economy” will be everywhere in the press – as both the Canadian and American media will be talking about it. Canadians will simply not be able to escape the issue and the framing.

But better still, the simple fact that there is a US election means that a significant amount of media “oxygen” will be sucked up by this giant event south of the border. Like it or not, Canadians get a chunk of their media from the United States. This will make it harder for the Conservatives to implement a communication strategy to combat the issue of the poor economy – particularly as the Democratic Party is working extra time to get it in the media. In a real sense the liberals will working with the wind at their backs – benefiting from the messaging out of the US – while knowing that it will be harder for the Conservatives to create a counter-narrative.

14 thoughts on “I'm betting on a fall election

  1. Peter

    If the economy is going to tank if the Liberals recommendations are not followed, then doesn’t it strike you as a touch immoral to let people suffer so the party has a better chance of winning an election? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be to declare that the Tories do not have a plan and that the Liberals do, and then roll the dice and try to win?

    Reply
  2. Peter

    If the economy is going to tank if the Liberals recommendations are not followed, then doesn’t it strike you as a touch immoral to let people suffer so the party has a better chance of winning an election? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be to declare that the Tories do not have a plan and that the Liberals do, and then roll the dice and try to win?

    Reply
  3. Steph D

    In response to your post Peter:

    The same thought occured to me. Somewhat akin to waiting for a disease to make someone ‘really’ sick before starting treatment.

    The counter-argument however is hidden within your “roll the dice and try to win” closing statement. You can rationalize waiting for the opportune time to strike for the best chance at victory, based on the idea that if you fail badly, and the Tories land a majority, you won’t get another chance to “cure” the problem before another 3-5 years of it spreading.

    It’s certainly a gamble, as your dice analogy correctly points out. Take a chance now, with the odds about even, or wait an extra few months, and hope your odds improve?

    I’m not advocating either side, but I can certainly see the rationale behind both.

    Reply
  4. Steph D

    In response to your post Peter:The same thought occured to me. Somewhat akin to waiting for a disease to make someone ‘really’ sick before starting treatment.The counter-argument however is hidden within your “roll the dice and try to win” closing statement. You can rationalize waiting for the opportune time to strike for the best chance at victory, based on the idea that if you fail badly, and the Tories land a majority, you won’t get another chance to “cure” the problem before another 3-5 years of it spreading.It’s certainly a gamble, as your dice analogy correctly points out. Take a chance now, with the odds about even, or wait an extra few months, and hope your odds improve?I’m not advocating either side, but I can certainly see the rationale behind both.

    Reply
  5. Danistan

    The Grits will have to be very careful about how they react to the Tory budget. The disingenuousness of the strategy Dave has highlighted could come back to haunt the Liberals if they are seen as having done nothing about impending economic problems by allowing the Tories to pass their spring budget unchallenged. In other words, Peter makes a good point.

    Reply
  6. Danistan

    The Grits will have to be very careful about how they react to the Tory budget. The disingenuousness of the strategy Dave has highlighted could come back to haunt the Liberals if they are seen as having done nothing about impending economic problems by allowing the Tories to pass their spring budget unchallenged. In other words, Peter makes a good point.

    Reply
  7. David Eaves Post author

    Peter and Danistan,

    Completely agree about how the Liberals will have to react to the Tory budget carefully. If they let it slide then they run the risk of not being in fundamental disagreement – dangerous ground for a party seeking to become the government.

    As for the ethics around “allowing” the economy to become worse under the conservatives – I’m not sure I buy this argument. The sad fact is that governments can rarely have a short term impact on the economy.

    Indeed, the conservatives will, in large part, not even be responsible for the slump over the short term. But that won’t matter, the public punishes governing parties when the economy is doing poorly. This isn’t to say the Conservatives have done well – the GST cut, the handling of income trusts, and the real risk of a deficit – are all policies choices that could create long term economic problems. But this doesn’t change the fact that if the Liberals cause an election today or in the fall, it will change little about how the faltering economy will impact Canadians.

    I’m not sure which choice is correct – I’m merely point out the criteria by which such a choice could be made.

    Reply
  8. David Eaves

    Peter and Danistan, Completely agree about how the Liberals will have to react to the Tory budget carefully. If they let it slide then they run the risk of not being in fundamental disagreement – dangerous ground for a party seeking to become the government.As for the ethics around “allowing” the economy to become worse under the conservatives – I’m not sure I buy this argument. The sad fact is that governments can rarely have a short term impact on the economy. Indeed, the conservatives will, in large part, not even be responsible for the slump over the short term. But that won’t matter, the public punishes governing parties when the economy is doing poorly. This isn’t to say the Conservatives have done well – the GST cut, the handling of income trusts, and the real risk of a deficit – are all policies choices that could create long term economic problems. But this doesn’t change the fact that if the Liberals cause an election today or in the fall, it will change little about how the faltering economy will impact Canadians.I’m not sure which choice is correct – I’m merely point out the criteria by which such a choice could be made.

    Reply
  9. Patrick Ross

    To be honest with you, the Liberals desperately need an election before the American election.

    If the Americans elect a Democratic president, and Harper establishes a good working relationship with that president, it will do a lot of damage to the predictable old Liberal tactic of relating the Conservatives and Republicans as closely as possible.

    Reply
  10. Patrick Ross

    To be honest with you, the Liberals desperately need an election before the American election.If the Americans elect a Democratic president, and Harper establishes a good working relationship with that president, it will do a lot of damage to the predictable old Liberal tactic of relating the Conservatives and Republicans as closely as possible.

    Reply
  11. Brenton Walters

    Any further feelings on the likelihood of a Fall election? I can’t remember where I read it but I recall seeing something recently about Dion having to really sell his Green Shift this summer if he wants to force an election this Fall.

    Reply
  12. Brenton Walters

    Any further feelings on the likelihood of a Fall election? I can’t remember where I read it but I recall seeing something recently about Dion having to really sell his Green Shift this summer if he wants to force an election this Fall.

    Reply

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