Democratic reform is a popular part of opposition party platforms, especially for populist parties who are trying to toss out a long standing party in power that is seen to have accountability issues. And so it goes for the 2012 Alberta general election. The Wildrose party is attempting to push aside the Progressive Conservatives whom have governed this province for over 41 years.
The Wildrose is sending the message that 40 years is enough and advancing rhetoric like, “The politics of entitlement and corruption must be replaced by a culture of accountability where doing what’s right is the rule, not the exception.”
Quite often however, a party that runs on a platform of democratic reform is slow to bring in the reforms once they gain power. The Reform/Conservative party at the federal level is a good example of this. They too proposed ideas like citizen initiatied referenda, recall legislation, a triple-e senate and free votes. Yet after more than 6 years in office, Prime Minister Harper has made little substantial progress on any of these concepts.
These ideas make for good policies to run on in an effort to unseat a ruling party, but they have no value for the party that is in power. And so, when a party assumes office, they have little impetus to change the system that got them there.
With many pundits predicting either a minority government or slim Wildrose majority, some real considerable action is likely to occur after the election. The website threehundredeight.com is predicting that the Wildrose party will form a majority government by two seats (winning 45/87 seats). I have come to the same conclusion based on independent analysis. This situation will leave the results from election day in a tenuous position. The speaker election and potential floor crossings mean that the seat count on election night won’t necessarily represent the makeup of the legislature for too long.
Some important questions arise.
Would a Wildrose government in minority or slim majority position risk their potential tenuous hold on the legislature by carrying through with democratic reforms like free votes or recall? Could the Wildrose Accountability Act pledge be the first flip-flop for Danielle Smith? If Wildrose does carry through with the legislation, how long will it take for a “bozo eruption” to occur inspiring a recall effort against an MLA elected by a small margin to begin with?