UK Green Party shows Canada how to win a seat in a first-past-the-post system

Saturday, May 08, 2010

While I've been a supporter of the Canadian Green Party since it first came to some prominence with Mike Harris, after a while with Elizabeth May as leader I've decided that the party has no future with her at the top given her personality, as she is more of a gambler and underdog type of politician who enjoys a challenge -- even if it means failure -- instead of a sure thing (electing a Green MP for the first time ever). Choosing to run against Peter McKay (losing even after the Liberals agreed not to run a candidate there), spending far too much time attacking Stephen Harper and essentially saying that a vote for any party but the Conservatives would be a good idea (IOW vote for the Green Party...or not, whatever, we're cool with that too), and a weird op-ed about Harper taking a communion wafer and maybe not eating it are some examples of her lack of long-term vision for the party.

Across the Atlantic, however, the Green Party there has shown how to win a seat. The UK Green Party only got 1% of the vote (in Canada it was 6.7% last time yet no seats) and still managed to do this. How? By choosing three districts where candidates had a chance to win, and focusing almost entirely on there. No going up against a sitting cabinet minister for Caroline Lucas.

In the next election too their strategy needs to remain the same, focusing entirely on retaining the one seat they have and hoping for a few more pickups in some key areas. The Liberal Democrats showed last night what happens when a lot of votes are split all over the place, winning just 57 seats compared to 258 for Labour, even though they had 6.8 million votes and Labour just a bit more at 8.6 million. That works out to an astounding 119,000 votes per seat for the Liberal Democrats compared to just 33,000 for Labour. For the Green Party it was 285,000 votes for their one seat.

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