In the News June 17
Cartel Party Democracy
Preparing the Ground to Declare a ‘Landslide Victory’ for Premier Legault on Election Day
The June 2 Ontario election saw Doug Ford’s majority Conservative government return to power, obtaining 83 of the 124 seats with 18 per cent of eligible voters casting their ballot for the Progressive Conservative Party. Voter turnout was 43.5 per cent, the lowest in the province’s history. Yet the mainstream media and pundits claimed a “landslide victory.”
When the media asked Doug Ford what he thought of the historically low turnout, he replied:”The people gave us a clear mandate with 83 seats and we are going to focus on our mandate.”
When asked if the low voter turnout indicated a need to change the voting system to a form of proportional representation, he replied that the first-past-the-post system has worked “for over 100 years” and “will continue to work that way.”
At both the federal and provincial levels, cartel parties cling to power in the service of global private interests. Elections are organized so that the people are removed from any discussion and decision-making on issues that they themselves consider the most important. With the Quebec election due in October, this kind of manipulation has already started in Quebec.
At the time of the 2018 election, Premier-elect François Legault of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) pledged that that would be the last election to be held under the current first-past-the-post voting system. In September 2019 his government introduced Bill 39, An Act to establish a new electoral system.
The bill provided for 80 Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) to continue to be elected through the traditional first-past-the-post system, while others from the regions (45 in total) would be elected according to the total vote their party received in a given administrative region. The total number of seats would have remained at 125.
In December 2021, through a press release from his office, the Premier announced that he would let the bill die on the order paper. “We realized that this is not a priority for the public at all, and it seemed esoteric to be taking this up at a time when it will take years for us to deal with the consequences of the present crisis [linked to COVID-19 – Ed. Note],” read the press release. “We would have looked out of touch.”
The Premier also added that electoral reform would not be part of his party’s election platform in the October 2022 election.
During the two peak years of the pandemic, during which the Legault government systematically governed through ministerial orders and decrees, the media kept repeating that his government enjoyed unprecedented support and popularity amongst Quebeckers. With the election still four months away, media and pundits, including electoral projection agencies, are predicting that the CAQ will obtain about 100 of the 125 seats.
Clearly, the Premier’s promise of electoral reform was crass opportunism. Why would he change the system even slightly when it is predicted that the CAQ will win a majority in a “landslide” that will allow him to continue to rule by decree? Like Doug Ford, he thinks that if the CAQ crushes the other parties, it will show that the system is “democratic” and he will claim to have a mandate from the people. Is this what he meant when he said he didn’t want to look ‘out of touch?’
In the current political system, governance by decree on the part of the government executive and the continual revolving door for members of the government executive and corporate executives eliminates the role of parliament, the legislatures of the provinces and Quebec’s National Assembly, the role of elected members and the voice and say of workers, youth, women and Indigenous peoples.
Voting is also under attack, as the cartel parties work to ensure that only those who are going to vote for them actually vote, through mechanisms such as micro-targeting and others. The groundwork has already been laid so that if the turnout in the October 3 Quebec election is very low, it will be said that it is because Quebeckers are satisfied with the government, that they just want to get on with their post-pandemic lives, that young people are no longer interested in politics, etc.
Meanwhile, the problems keep on piling up. Attacks by the private oligopolies against workers carry on with impunity. Government carries on with the wrecking of the health care system, including increased privatization. Quebec is being further integrated into the U.S. empire and its war machine. Identity politics are promoted to pit people against one another rather than the state bringing people together to build the unity of all through a nation-building project, discussed and elaborated by the people within their collectives.
It goes without saying that if Quebeckers speak in their own name and reject the idea that Legault and others are speaking on their behalf, they will see the value of voting or not in a way that helps build the movement for the rights of all and for a new Quebec.
1. In the 2018 Quebec election, voter turnout was 66.45 per cent, the second lowest voter turnout in the past 91 years.
TML Daily, posted June 17, 2022.