The Outsiders Have Won! (?)

Various news outlets have pointed out that the results of the first round of voting in the French presidential election show that the outsiders have won the day, and that the vote is a protest against the status quo: fairly shallow stuff, on the whole.

Marine Le Pen does represent a certain ras-le-bol (had it up to here) with the EU bureaucracy (never mind that LP sits as a Eurodeputy) and with all those brown people coming into France and tarnishing its very white, very catholic image. She comes close in many ways to the idea of making France great again. Macron certainly did not get the endorsement of Les Republicans (sarkozistas), nor of the Socialists, even though he had served in the Hollande cabinet :Hollande, of course, campaigned in 2012 on a socialist platform and, upon election, fell back in a rut that looked an awful lot like the program of his predecessor, Nicky Sarko (Sarkozy being the nec plus ultra of sarkozistas). Macron is a banker and an insider of the inner sanctum variety. So while the two “mainstream” parties failed to send a candidate to the second round run-off, the only forecast, barring some really silly happenings in the legislative elections, will be more of the same reign of finance and austerity, more of the floundering economy, and, should Le Pen win, the wrenching of an attempted exit from the EU. ¬†Supporters of Fillon and Hamon have little to worry about, as their programs are fairly well represented somewhere in the Macron-Le Pen duality, along with those minority candidates wanting France out of the EU. Only those along the M√©lanchon-Poutou axis will be left out with no good place to put their vote, other than, one might assume, barring the door to Le Pen’s racist rantings. It’s rather like trying to find a safe place for a vote in the last US presidential election, or like making a choice between Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, and it has echoes in our current BC election where people are tired of the squabbling between Liberals and New Democrats and want to vote their views with the Greens. Trouble is, there is a good chance that voting en masse mineure for the Weaver Gang is most likely to result in another Liberal government, not the real intent of those Green voters. Weaver does have a certain cachet due to his name, along with a thousand or so others, on a Nobel prize for Climate research, but his endorsement of the continued public funding for private schools and his love for IPPs has somewhat curdled the cream of his agenda. He also states that we need a less-polarized, more centrist approach to governing, but this reeks to me of more More-Of-The-Same: I don’t see that the problems that plague society in BC are likely to be addressed adequately without some serious restructuring of the economic and social pyramid. This seems to be lacking most everywhere (Christy would likely continue to steepen the pinnacle of the pyramid as she commits an increasing portion of the population to descend toward the base). I would love a plural approach to governing, but we can’t get to that with the current group infesting the Rockpile, and the surest way to fumigate the place is a crowd of Dippers, who, in their turn, need help to maintain focus. First acts should include fixing the electoral system with some form of proportional representation, public financing of campaigns, revamping the initiative and recall provisions so that they become viable, and then moving on to reform of tax legislation, retributive measures, rebuilding health and education and addressing the multiple environmental concerns that plague the province. If then, the Greens don’t like what the Dippers have on the docket, they can roll out the recall (I’m sure the Liberals will help, along with Post Media, Black Press and the entirety of the broadcast media) and look to elect a government of a different colour under the new rules (with, of course, no government advertising allowed (that should really annoy the above-mentioned press organs). Gee, I wonder what the odds are of any of this coming to fruition.

4 thoughts on “The Outsiders Have Won! (?)

  1. Voters do not need to vote en mass for the Greens to end up with a BC Liberal government by way of splitting the vote: even if half of polled citizens who say they support the Greens actually voted for them, it would likely return the BC Liberals. All reasonable measures suggest Green support is very soft; sure, lots of citizens would like to vote Green, and probably for more than simply environmental reasons, but will vote strategically for the NDP which is the only party that has a realistic chance of beating the BC Liberals—besides, the parties’ respective environmental platforms are much closer together than either’s are to the BC Liberals’ who are essentially the environmental bad guys in this play.

    No serious restructuring of the economy or society is on offer, nor are there compelling reasons for undertaking such before a return to observing laws that already exist happens. Many of the problems we have in BC are due to flagrant breaches of trust by the BC Liberal government that include breaking campaign promises in a very big way (eg. BCR, HST and LNG), blatant conflicts of interest, cronyism, secrecy and numerous negligence in enforcing all kinds of laws and regulations.

    We already have a plurality system that rewards parties which build bigger tents through compromise. Otherwise there is no constitutional alternative allowed for the passage of bills, that is, by a simple majority of parliamentary votes. This is true regardless of electoral system, despite claims by pro-reppers that parliamentary voting will be somehow different under pro-rep; it wouldn’t be, and neither would the Westminster parliamentary system’s primary strength: confidence (pro-reppers have been known to make claims that ignore this immutable fact).

    Everything you suggest should get done by an NDP government I agree with except for pro-rep. It’s the very last thing a new government should embroil itself in, especially in BC where there’ll be plenty of more important work in forensic discovery and remediation of BC Liberal damage to the public weal, and where STV was rejected twice, by twice the margin the second time as the first. We should take a lesson from the federal electoral reform debacle: never let partisans decide anything about electoral systems. In time an older NDP government might consider referring electoral reform to the proper agency, Elections BC, the only one with the proven impartiality and expertise to address reform to the extent voters want.

    Although Citizens’ Initiative has frustrated many voters (reminding that it was designed by partisans under political imposition, not by an impartial agency like Elections BC in response to public will), it seems, with regard “Recall,” unreasonable to allow less than 40% of riding voters to overturn an election result (the designers couldn’t very well set the threshold at 50% because the target MLA could well have won the seat in the first place with less that 50% of the votes, nor could they very well allow only 30% to overturn an election else a revolving door of Recalls and by-elections interrupt with Westminster parliament’s prime directive to pass legislation whenever it’s needed and in a timely way (parliamentary confidence precludes legislative gridlock). No Recall has succeeded in BC despite over two dozen attempts.

    The Anti HST Petition, on the other hand, was much more successful, in fact setting an important international precedent: it led to the first time in eight centuries of Commonwealth parliamentary history that a legislated tax was rescinded by force of popular measure. In BC that simply meant the HST was rejected at referendum—although that mail-in ballot voting system experience (not to be confused with electoral systems) should have taught us a lesson that such voting systems should not be allowed due to inherent veracity and fraud problems; banning online voting and mail-in ballots would be a welcome reform.

    But these experiences have suggested improvements more practical than firing MLAs with ease. The Petition rules of CI do not include binding MLAs to a clear vote in the Assembly; Campbell could have legally addressed the Petition by simply introducing the matter on the order paper, the Petition only having legal force to make MLAs acknowledge it in session. Referendum is of course another way to address the Petition but, even then, Campbell set the threshold to a level he considered politic—50%—when he could have quite legally set it higher. Taking these kinds of discretions away from partisan politicians might be a worthy reform of CI.

    The designers of CI also wrestled with California-style Propositions, but shied away, recognizing existing reticence among the electorate who were well aware of the excesses of such CI tactics in that state. These matters might be addressed in order to allow, but ameliorate the pitfalls of, Proposition rules such as we’ve seen down south.

    In any case, as the words Citizens’ Initiative implies, it’s largely up to citizens to make it work, whatever the rules; they have to get involved—and no legislation will make that happen short of compulsory voting. Perhaps we could have a referendum—see how many turn out.

    The easiest and quickest way to improve BC politics is to get campaign financing under control, and that means first getting rid of the BC Liberals who will never acquiesce when in power, and who might very well never get a chance, after forensic investigation of the books (assuming they lose), to win power again—if only they’re disconnected from it just once.

    • Well, Mr. Scott, I’m about as red-faced as I could be, partly because of my surprise that anyone actually reads this stuff, partly because I’ve been feeling a little numb from election fever and from the aftermath, still in effect, of not being able to see the flushing process begin. Did your observations get aired elsewhere? They should, and this should be grist for some lively discussion as June 22 (!) approaches. The foundation statement, and I think we both can agree, is that citizens can’t go back to sleep, never, e’en tho the swamp be verily drained and Clark, Coleman, Dejong, Stone, Falcon, Stilwell, the whole rotten hockey-sock full of them, be banished forever from the realm. I also fear, and have had reason to note, that a good part of the electorate has descended to that point where they are either protecting their own privilege in the short term, future be damned, or have become incapable of anything beyond chanting slogans for a party is, even as they chant, picking their pocket in the interest of the afore-mentioned privilege-protectors. Guess I better get over the wallowing in numbness and get back on the rhetorical trail. Thanks for reading and especially for the great insights. May I post them as a feature?

  2. Danneau: I’m always heartened when anyone takes time to think about our political system and how it can work for everyone. Partisanship is natural but its over-cultivation in politics is analogous to compacting perfectly good soil and incapacitating its verdancy.

    Citizens want to go back to sleep because partisan politics has gotten so repellent. I always ask: who stands to gain by this? And the answer is pretty plain: those who want citizens to be asleep at the switch or too distracted to notice what’s going on. It’s how JQ Public worries about, among everything else, the kids’ education, healthcare and, especially, if it’ll be adequate for looming old age—but then gets rousted every four years and goes, “…huh?…uh, lower taxes? Yeah, sure, sounds great…”

    The disconnect is as understandable as it is appalling, but I see hope in the faces of young voters as they begin to join the electorate—and I think they’re doing it for the right reasons: to show they can influence our world without undue partisanship. I dunno, internet savvy?…environmental realism?…not having bomb shelters being dug explained to them as children?…whatever it is, they look ready to engage whether through tactical voting, electoral reform, or citizens’ initiatives—all that takes a level of interconnectedness young folks seem to excel at.

    As for partisanship, I’d asked in our local paper here for Greens to consider voting tactically for the NDP to make sure the BC Liberals were defeated—a most partisan position, I admit—but for me that’s what should be its fullest exercise: elections need some of it so parties and candidates can inspire and encourage voters, and, very importantly, to maintain morale among volunteers without who few candidates can succeed. Volunteering and public service balance the individualistic aspects of political partisanship, the what’s-in-it-for-me or getting-my-“voice”-heard appeals that are so often disappointed when stumping is expected to provide rewards—“leaving-dollars-in-your-pocket” type of thing. But, now it’s done, it’s no hypocrisy to say I’m satisfied with the outcome because the cooperation between the Greens and the NDP has already begun to provide a breath of fresh air, to oxygenate potential and to contrast with the already more apparent stench of BC Liberal perfidy. It’s as it should be: partisanship should be reserved for the rarified atmosphere of campaigning, but thereafter evolve to cooperation—admitting perfunctory partisanship required of official opposition as per Westminster (that is, constructive criticism, not partisan vitriol). The political right needs to relearn that the winning party governs for all.

    Thank you for asking. And for re-posting if you think it good. All’s I can say at this point is, man! what a ride! I’m optimistic, in spite of everything.

    Thanx again and all the best,

    Scotty

    • Some very august personnages in the blogosphere have railed against the hyper=partisan nature of our political apparatus and, while I agree to an extent, I have to think that, in the present context, there is such a stark division between the reigning (still!) crowd with all their money and press hegemony, and the rest of us (whether we know or not that we’re outside the pale), that the situation requires a real sense of us and them. I was really torn on the Green vs. NDP squabbles and found that the sniping went both ways. In the end, the decision was made easier by the fact that we have been pretty ably represented by a Dipper since ’09 and my sense is that there is a clearer vision on the part of the NDP about how to deal with the crises generated by the long and painful tenure of the BCLP. Problem solved. I’m contemplating a piece (was just gathering material when I saw this comment from you) on some of the factors that engender partisanship, sloth, indifference and loathing in relation to involvement in the processes of society, so your words on disconnection and disenchantment are very much in my mind. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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