Monday, October 02, 2017

History of vote-buying in Canadian politics

Eric Grénier at CBC News reveals the real dynamic in the NDP leadership race:
Between May and the second week of September — the last date for which fundraising data is available — Singh raised 53 per cent of all the money raised by the four candidates. He was followed by Angus at 20 per cent, Ashton at 16 per cent and Caron at 11 per cent.
Singh: 53% of the money, 53% of the vote. Angus: 20% of the money, 19.4 of the vote.

Grénier has been demonstrating recently that this close relationship between candidate spending and candidate success is a consistent pattern in leadership choice. But the rest of the press, and the political scientists, too, still love a horserace.

I generally emphasize the corrupting influence on party politics of selling votes ("membership") at $10 or $25 a pop, so that 1) the race is mostly about buying and selling memberships, and 2) the "members" are effectively disenfranchised the moment the race ends, leaving the winner largely unaccountable to either party members or caucus members for years at a time.  But Grenier provides another metric of corruption: party leadership victory in Canada is largely a function of how much a candidate spends.

After a wasted year, and millions spent, look how few actually vote. Singh becomes leader of a national political party and a viable option for prime minister, on 35,000 votes -- a fraction of what the average MP needs.  And weirdly, the pattern from the recent Conservative "race" persists: barely half of all 124,000 paid up members -- themselves hardly enough to fill an average constituency -- bothered to vote. 

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