Election 2015: Strategic voting amongst election trends

As Canadians head to the polls, more people than ever before are talking about strategic voting

  • Oct. 19, 2015 12:00 p.m.

The 2015 federal election campaign has brought forward many issues and featured a lot of promises from the federal parties; but it has also featured a significant change in the way some Canadians are thinking heading to the polls on Monday.

Strategic voting, a movement directed at casting a ballot for the candidate most likely to defeat the government, has arrived in force in Canada during this election.

From web sites like votetogether.ca, which uses a tag line “Let’s vote together to end 10 years of Harper rule” to door-to-door campaigns asking people to vote for the candidate that has the best chance to unseat the government, never before have so many groups promoted strategic voting.

“Strategic voting is now in the lexicon and I would hazard a guess that four years ago people would say ‘What do you mean by strategic voting?'” said UBC political science professor Kathryn Harrison.

“That’s because now there are organized efforts for strategic voting. In ridings where there are close-fought races, they are going door-to-door getting people to pledge to vote as a block. It’s a big experiment in trying to organize voters to get around the limitations of our electoral system. Where there is a three-way race that is close, it’s the most difficult to make the call as to who is the strategic candidate that supporters should pick in order to unseat the government.”

Certain strategic voting campaigns are connecting voters with information on who to choose to best unseat the government, strategic moves that have even taken place amongst the candidates right here at home. The Kelowna-Lake Country riding has candidates running in only the three main parties: the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP.

That’s because Green Party candidate Gary Adams won the nomination for the Green Party in Kelowna-Lake Country and then immediately resigned his candidacy in order to pledge support to the Liberal campaign, a move that was designed to keep from splitting the vote.

Harrison says anytime a government is in power for a length of time, people have more issues and more problems, adding that a decade in power has made the Conservatives a target.

“When a party has been governing for a long period of time they accumulate more things that have aggravated voters,” said Harrison. “So it’s been a decade now and the voters have accumulated a lot of grievances against Mr. Harper’s government so there is this a whole movement that it is time for change.

“There is also jockeying between Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair about who is the voice of change and who is the one who can bring change.” Harrison said. “And on top of that what happens if the votes for change are split and the Conservatives are elected? We’re hearing a lot more things about what the Conservative government has done that are unpopular and that’s what happens when you have a party govern for a long time.”

 

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