A political earthquake is taking place in North America – and it’s completely off the radar of the mainstream media in most countries.
In another week, it is entirely possible that Jack Layton (pictured), a democratic socialist, will be elected as Prime Minister of Canada.
Polls this week have been showing the New Democratic Party, traditionally Canada’s third party, pushing the Liberals into third place in an election likely to be won by the incumbent, the Conservative Stephen Harper.
But the very latest polls which show the New Democrats taking as many as 100 seats in the 308-seat Canadian House of Commons — which is nearly three times the number they have today — indicate the possibility of a coalition government led by the NDP, with the Liberals as junior partners.
As recently as a week or two ago, such a scenario would have been dismissed as nonsensical.
The NDP — successor the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation — has always been at best a third party, sometimes a fourth. Its best-case scenario for several decades has been to hold the balance of power, something it has done from time in time.
Its best result ever was 23 years ago when the popular Ed Broadbent led the party to win over 20% of the vote and capture 43 seats. But in the following election, only five years later, the party had plummeted to less than 7% of the vote and only nine seats. It has been a long climb back, and Layton has now led the party through three elections, nearly doubling the number of seats it held.
What has happened now is a sudden and unexpected surge in popularity that may require the party to consider, for the first time, who would be its ministers in a federal government. (more…)