Saturday, March 24, 2012

NDP leadership ballots show two different approaches to future of party


It looks very clear that Thomas Mulcair will take the NDP leadership in the upcoming fourth ballot after posting 43.8% support on the third round, versus 31.6% for Brian Topp and 24.6% for Nathan Cullen, who is now forced off the final vote.

Topp needs to take three-quarters of Cullen's former support to win, while Mulcair requires just one-quarter to succeed.  It is certainly do-able but really hard to see it happening.

Cullen ran an impressively strong and surprising campaign and can be proud of his efforts.  Initially seen as likely to be an also-ran without even a large base of regional support in BC, Cullen showed himself to be a potential future leader and a force to be reckoned with in the House of Commons in the days ahead.

One wonders if Cullen's controversial "electoral cooperation" plan that gained him much attention ultimately helped or hurt his campaign but without question NDP members responded to his personality and fresh approach in a major way.

Regardless, the NDP has to be breathing a big sigh of relief that the animosity some feared might break out on the convention floor between campaigns has not materialized.

Less happily, the apparent hacker attack on the online voting system has seriously slowed down the process by hours and possibly discouraged many eligible voters from participating, reducing turnout.  One can only hope that what happened is clarified and if it is indeed an attack, the culprits be found.

Guest NDP badge from 1961 founding convention - still called
the "New Party" then before name of New Democratic Party decided

A very tough first and second ballot result for Peggy Nash, as well as for Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton and Martin Singh.

Peggy worked so hard on this very long campaign and showed great grace in accepting the results of the third ballot.  I am disappointed in the result but not in her impressive efforts.

Paul, Niki and Martin all made significant contributions and have a bright future ahead.

Nathan Cullen, Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair - well done - each of you has run strong campaigns and deserve to see that recognized by NDP members, as has happened.

Good luck to all!


Second and third ballots will determine which route lies ahead for future of New Democratic Party

Fascinating results from the NDP leadership first ballot show the two competing approaches for the future of the party:

1) Move to the centre to better compete with the Conservatives and win in 2015 while further marginalizing the Liberals or:

2) Focus on social democratic principles and build support for a more left of centre alternative.

Thomas Mulcair, Nathan Cullen and Martin Singh fall into the first approach.

Peggy Nash, Brian Topp and perhaps Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton take the second view.

And that, given the first ballot vote, appears to me to be the significant philosophical battle underway today - both in the leadership campaign and in the party itself.

But none of this should be overemphasized.  The most centrist NDP imaginable is still way to the left of the most liberal Liberal Party, even under ex-NDPer Bob Rae.

The second ballot will show whether Mulcair will be the eventual winner or can be defeated by the combined second and third choice ballots of candidates dropping out.

Mulcair needs to get most of Singh's votes -  as Singh urged well before the convention began - and pick up enough from Dewar and Ashton to get close to 40% and appear the unstoppable force.

My candidate, Peggy Nash, had an unquestionably disappointing result but is staying in and now needs to get ahead of Nathan Cullen based on the second choices of Dewar, Ashton and Singh, plus any live votes moving around.

Her route to victory is now more difficult but not impossible.  I predicted a final Mulcair vs Nash vote and that's still potentially in the cards.

Cullen has to stay in the race and get closer to Topp to position himself as able to challenge Mulcair in the final ballot.

Topp has to gain some second ballot support and solidify his position as the only alternative to Mulcair, then pick up a fair number of votes from whoever is forced off the ballot.

Lastly, all NDP supporters have to be disappointed with the low turnout in this first ballot, which is unlikely to increase in subsequent votes.

With just over 65,000 first ballot votes cast of just over 130,000 members, the NDP has only achieved a 50% turnout - ironically just about the same turnout as in the last federal election.

Apparently online voting is not having the desired effect of increasing participation.

For those of us political junkies who grew up on the drama of delegated conventions with their dramatic candidates moving across the floor to rivals and the abundance of straw hats and other bumpf, perhaps one-member, one-vote isn't the future of politics after all!

Here are the first ballot results:

Thomas Mulcair: 19,728 votes (30.3 per cent)
Brian Topp: 13,915 votes (21.4 per cent)
Nathan Cullen: 10,671 votes (16.4 per cent)
Peggy Nash: 8,353 votes (12.8 per cent)
Paul Dewar: 4,883 votes (7.5 per cent)
Martin Singh: 3,821 votes (5.9 per cent)
Niki Ashton: 3,737 votes (5.7 per cent)



Anonymous said...

I don't think delegated conventions are the way to go. I think the problem here was a combo of voter burnout with the endless almost harassing calls and the fact the party website is incredibly unclear as to voting on day. I was relly confused and I'm really into this stuff.

It is bad enough that most ordinary party members can't actually be in TO for this becuase of cost issues (aren't we supposed to be the party that understands the economic situation of regular people) bringing delegated conventions back would just make people even less likely to feel part of the process

Jennifer said...

For the last hour I have been trying to vote online with no success. I picked my candidate and then tried to exit but it lagged so long that my page closed. I have yet been able to get on again.

Anonymous said...

2 things. Perhaps phoning in your ballot with a password would be a lot easier, and to the new leader, let's drop the New part of the New Democrats. Let's get into the 21st century folks!

DPL said...

Jennifer is right, and not the only member who hasn't managed to vote on line. The second ballot has been delayed, once more. It's hard to believe just how badly the head office has screwed up the voting process. Who will win the job? I won't even hazard a guess. The nice result will be the stoppage of the huge number of emails that show up . Hell I got four of them in the last hour.
Yet the election office can't sort out a voting process that works. So many folks attempting to vote will end up saying"To hell with it, turn off the TV " and do something else

Anonymous said...

I voted a few days ago online. It was easy.

Anonymous said...

"The NDP is about as good at technology as they are at everything else. Ponies for all, but we can't figure out how to get anything practical done.."

- NDP Supporter online.

DPL said...

Time to kiss and make up. I quit watching the event early today but I hear Mulcair got the nod.Not my choice but that's democracy, or so I'm told

Anonymous said...

The Ddos attacks on the voter system has, in my opinion, tainted the vote results. It stopped people from voting, either from frustration or by making it too difficult. A type of voter suppression that means not everyone who wanted to vote could.
And, on the last ballot, voting was stopped even though some people still were unable to vote. This is wrong, and undemocratic. I quit the party tonight because of this. That and Mulcair, who has dual citizenship and many other issues I just will not support going forward.

Anonymous said...

watch for the talking points:

"I quit my membership"

"not a Canadian - or Canadian enough"