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COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS BY FRANK GRAVES – June 17, 2010

[Ottawa – June 17, 2010] – What a mess! An increasingly muddled political landscape has few points of clarity. Perhaps the only clear conclusion we can draw from the most recent poll and the marked patterns of recent trajectory is that Canadians have no party which would come even close to achieving a plausible mandate from an ever more disgruntled and fragmented electorate. It is difficult to imagine how a hobbled 116 seat strong Conservative Party could achieve, let alone sustain, parliamentary confidence (or public confidence). The enfeebled Liberals are even further away from anything resembling a mandate to rule. So just as Canadians say they are tiring of minority rule, the prospects of any party achieving a majority (let alone even a modestly stable minority), have all but vanished. And to make this delicious irony even more discouraging, there is virtually nothing on the political event horizon to suggests that any of this is likely to change any time soon.

The obvious backdrop to all of this is the heightened buzz about of coalitions. We are also hearing increased mutterings about leadership and the anachronistic perversity of our first past the post voting system. It is, however, coalitions, from informal to outright mergers, which are the focus of recent discussions on how to break out of the current political malaise.

This poll offers no definitive direction on which coalitions would be most attractive. For numerologists, it is curious and noteworthy that the virtually never discussed possibility of a Liberal-Conservative coalition yields an identical level of aggregate voter support (57%) as a traffic light coalition of the Green, Red, and Orange parties (57% as well). For those who see this as preposterous, the current coalition in the UK looks more ideologically congruent with this mixture than the more oft discussed centre-left coalitions. Whatever the political arithmetic, and alchemy in store, it now seems that coalitions of some sort will be an inevitable legacy of an electorate that is more fragmented than at any other period in Canadian political history. Oscillating Conservative and Liberal majorities may have been the rule of the last century, but it appears we have entered a strange new political world.

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