democratic renewal project letter to david eggen.

The Democratic Renewal Project (DRP) has sent a letter to former Edmonton-Calder NDP MLA David Eggen urging him to not seek the NDP nomination in new Edmonton-Glenora (Read: DRP letter to David Eggen re Glenora vs Northwest).

The DRP believe that a “united alternative” to the governing PCs should take place not in the formation of a new united party but through a “non-competition agreement” between the already existing Liberal Party and NDP. The letter suggests that Mr. Eggen should seek election in the new Edmonton-Northwest constituency to avoid splitting the vote in the formerly Liberal-held Glenora constituency (under the new boundaries, Calder will be dissolved, leaving Mr. Eggen’s home in the new Glenora).

The DRPs argument in Glenora is that a strong NDP candidate will split the vote with the Liberals and allow PC MLA Heather Klimchuk to be re-elected. There is little evidence to support this argument in Glenora, as in 2004 Liberal Bruce Miller was elected with 4,604 votes over second place New Democrat Larry Booi who earned 4,052 votes. With a low profile NDP candidate placing a distant third in 2008, Mr. Miller should have been re-elected with a 2,600 vote margin according to DRP logic. Instead, Mr. Booi’s votes from 2004 did not go to Mr. Miller and he was defeated by 130 votes.

Despite the hard work of their dedicated supporters, neither the Liberals or the NDP have proven that their parties have the ability to connect with Albertans outside of their already supportive urban enclaves. Perhaps the problem is not the competition for votes between the already existing parties, but that neither of the two parties are seen as viable alternatives to the governing PCs?

With declining voter turnout and a growing disconnect between citizens and the democratic process the solution should be to provide more opportunities for meaningful engagement. Decreasing choice of candidates is not a smart solution and neither is limiting the opportunity for already engaged citizens to participate in the democratic system by running as candidates in their communities.

David Eggen should run in Edmonton-Glenora because he is an engaged citizen and a good candidate. Voters in that constituency are smart enough to decide who their representative will be.

(I have already written two posts on battleground Glenora here and here.)

11 replies on “democratic renewal project letter to david eggen.”

The DRP continues to be an obvious Liberal front. Why else would they ask one of the highest profile NDP candidates to run elsewhere, when Glenora has yet to even nominate a Liberal candidate?

Liberal nonsense, through and through.

Also, the DRP shows little respect or understanding for democratic processes. Twice now they have asked the NDP to accept their plans at the NDP conventions and twice where they overwhelmingly voted down.

That the NDP allowed DRP ideas to even come to their convention floor shows a lot of respect for the process, but the DRP cannot return the kindness and acknowledge that the NDP has rejected their ideas, utterly and completely. Instead we get this nonsense. Shame on the DRP’ers.

Back in 2005, I had a conversation with a Liberal in which I told him about the NDP’s fantastic new candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona, Linda Duncan. The Liberal told me that the NDP should get behind the Liberals’ candidate in the riding. I asked him who their candidate was. They didn’t have one yet–but it was still up to the NDP to drop their nominated candidate for a phantom Liberal.

(We all know what happened there.)

It seems to me that when the Liberals have won in Glenora, it has been because of the presence of a strong NDP campaign drawing votes away from the PCs.

The DRP just doesn’t seem to get that not having an NDP candidate to vote for, or a weak NDP campaign will not necessarily result in NDP voters voting Liberal, nor will a weak Liberal campaign necessarily result in voters who normally vote Liberal voting NDP. They seem to be stuck on the idea that everyone lies on a perfect Right/Left political spectrum and that voters would just blindly move to whomever the DRP considers to be the next closest party to their normal first choice if their ability to vote for the party of their choice were taken away from them.

A weaker NDP campaign was a factor in Klimchuk’s victory. There are NDP voters who would vote PC before they would ever even consider voting Liberal, and their are PCs who would vote for the NDP as an alternative to the PCs but would never consider voting Liberal.

To allay your concerns, the DRP is not a front for any one of the parties. It is a model cooperative effort by members of ALL progressive parties; thus its open-minded membership and steering committees are a solid and DEMOCRATIC mix of former Greens, Liberals, NDs, and even the occasional disenchanted Tory.

DRP events are funded by such means as garage sales and small grassroots’ private donations – there is absolutely no single influence, funding, or direction taken from ANY political party whatsoever. DRP members are merely frustrated with the perpetual losers’ status of ALL of the progressive parties in Alberta, and frankly, don’t see any single one of them winning as much as a decent token size opposition on their own. Therefore, TEMPORARY unity is the goal. (Adding the Alberta Party into this three-way mix, will make things even more fractionalized.)

Election after election, Alberta’s first-past-the-post voting system has encouraged the centre-left to engage in petty partisan bickering and backbiting, view each other with suspicion and hatred, and therefore LOSE, rather than wisely strategizing on how to gang up on the bigger pit bull(s) so that Proportional Representation can be implemented, after which the parties can merrily go back to their bickering. It’ll be interesting to see what propels these parties to finally talk – two, three elections with Danielle and Paul and the Wild Rose at the helm?
Or, hmm… will it take another FORTY years?

Prairie voice The center left ie: Liberals, and Co-operative Commonwealth didn’t do any better under Single Transferable Vote when it was in this province. Quit blaming the electoral system and quit blaming the voters for not picking candidates from the moribund left wing parties.

“Oh puhlease” is incorrect in his or her historical observations. STV produced a large centrist opposition in the 1955 election, led by the Liberals. Historian Bob Hesketh demonstrated in a Prairie Forum article that Social Credit got rid of STV precisely because the 1955 election demonstrated that voters were increasingly using STV for “anyone but Social Credit voting” rather than failing to mark second ballots.

The Linda Duncan example which “idealistic pragmatist” brings up largely negates Denny’s point. Once it became clear that LD was the candidate with the best chance to beat the Tory in Stratchona, the Liberal vote decreased by about 4000 in 2006 and almost another 5000 in 2008, leaving only about 4000 votes. The problem in most constituencies is that it is far less clear which party’s candidate is most likely to beat the Tory (yes, some will say that it was Rahim Jaffer whom people wanted to beat at all costs but mostly at the door the villain mentioned was Steven Harper).

I agree of course that there are people who are very partisan and would not switch their vote to another party for any reason at all. But given how few people these days join or contribute financially or in any other way to political parties, there’s no reason to believe that we are talking about a statistically important group.

I’ll say this for the DRP – it’s a unifying force in the NDP. I’ve had differences with Neal and Denny before – sometimes pretty ugly. But their points above are dead on.

Alvin, you continue to ignore all the evidence that your plan won’t work:

1. Edmonton Calder 2008 – Liberal vote goes down, Tory vote goes up, Tory beats opposition MLA.

2. Edmonton Glenora 2008 – NDP vote goes down, Tory vote goes up, Tory beats opposition MLA.

3. Peace River 2008 – No Liberal candidate. Liberal vote splits almost evenly between NDP and PC candidates. PC candidate adds 10% to his total.

In all three cases, there is clear evidence that people who supported Liberals and NDP candidates in previous elections switched to Tories when their party didn’t run strong campaigns.

Add in the Wildrose factor and you have to assume that more than a few Liberal and NDP voters might cast ballots for Danielle Smith if their usual choice is off the menu.

You can never, never, never, never assume that blocks of voters will gravitate from one party to another en masse. That is totally contrary to human nature – we all have our own brains and all come to the political process with different backgrounds and biases – and we all have different voting patterns as a result.

Now, to nit pick..

In the letter to Eggen, Alvin again makes the assumption that the NDP has written off Northwest. There is simply zero evidence of this. I’m not part of any central NDP planning at all, but since Eggen announced Calder – I’ve heard of at least two candidates, one with some profile, eying the seat. If the NDP has no candidate by this time next year – than go ahead and make your accusation. But there is no merit to it so far.

“The Linda Duncan example which “idealistic pragmatist” brings up largely negates Denny’s point. ”

No it doesn’t. Not at all. Denny’s point is that a weak NDP campaign doesn’t necessarily help the Liberals. IP’s point is that if the NDP listened to the Liberals, Linda Duncan wouldn’t be MP. These are both valid and not contradictory points.

Instead of listening to Strathcona Liberals, Duncan’s team worked hard and built up an impressive organization that swamped the Liberals and won the seat. That’s the model I’d like the NDP to emulate. Building strong local campaigns that win elections instead of relying on the political equivalent of get rich quick schemes.

Further to Lou’s point, I would easily say I am a swing vote in the provincial scene right now and the parties I swing between are the NDP and the Wildrose. That may confuse 90% of the voters for each party, but both parties articulate clearer positions than the murky middle of the PCs and the Libs. Both, to my mind, have a clearer respect for the grassroots democratic process than the bigger parties.

Likely the quality of the local candidate will decide my vote, as for me that often triumphs all other considerations. That being said, I’m a clear example of where the DRP thinking falls down. Denying me even the consideration of an NDP candidate in Mill Woods (something the local Liberal association, who sponsored the DRP motion at the Lib convention, would clearly like to do) would only result in a vote for the Wildrose, or perhaps me not voting at all.

The DRP ideas are nonsense. I think they would have a lot more success advocating for a merger between the NDP and the Liberals than for their hairbrained electoral rigging scheme. At least calling for a merger of those parties gives people a real idea of where you come from and what you’re about.

On the whole, most voters are like “Neal” here: they do not have a strong ideological locus on the left-right spectrum. They vote according to their perceptions of which party’s leader most effectively articulates their concerns on e-day, and which they see as most likely to be successful (since the average voter dislikes “wasting” his or her vote on a losing candidate).

The whole left-right thing is overly simplistic anyway; there is a website called “political compass” which uses a quadrant approach to placing people’s ideology, rather than a simple bi-polar left-right continuum. It can be quite illuminating to take the test on that website and see where one falls.

Nice to hear some of the people suggesting an amalgamation of the two/three parties. Everyone going their own way has only resulted in 40 years of losses. If the parties can get it together, one party, one platform, one set of MLAs, then you have a party that could win.
The problem is with the old ( LIBS/NDS) people not being able to bend a little bit, they seem to think, yet again, that it is better to sacrifice everything rather than win small victories( some ND Policy, some Lib Policy) for change. A little liberal, a little ND, a little green, and big changes could be made from a fusion of political parties.
But ya gotta be prepared to give a little for the benefit of ALBERTANS.

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