On October 4, 2011, The New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP) won the 40th general election in the province, earning a majority government for its fourth consecutive term. The NDP captured 36 seats, the Conservatives 19, and the Liberals 1. The NDP had received a total of 199,069 votes, the Progressive Conservatives 188,535, the Liberals 32, 418, and the Green Party 10,886.
The NDP have won elections in Manitoba in 1999, 2003, 2007, and again, in 2011.
The CBC stated that the Manitoba election was to be the most controversial election in over ten years. According to CBC , “The Manitoba NDP has claimed a historic fourth majority government while prompting Hugh McFadyen to step down as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.”
Manitoba is quite polarized as northern Manitoba heavily favours NDP, while the south sections of the province favours the Progressive Conservatives. In Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, the Progressive Conservative stronghold remains in the Southwestern quadrant of the city. The NDP remains the favourite of most voters in Winnipeg.
Greg Selinger and Today’s NDP
Selinger said, “Never have I been so optimistic as I am tonight about the future of Manitoba. To all who voted, I thank you for participating, thank you for getting involved in the democratic process.”
The National Post’s analysis of Selinger and the NDP campaign was that “Manitoba’s New Democratic government is far from rabidly socialist. Rather, like their counterparts in Saskatchewan, is made of up of pragmatic prairie populists. They are as centrist as any Liberal government in the land. Neither spendthrifts nor cheapskates, they fund solid public services, but pay lower public-sector wages than Alberta and generally have per capita debt that of Ontario and Quebec.”
The other parties
Hugh McFayden and the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba (PC)had not gained or lost any of the seats from the previous election. The provincial election of 2011 in Manitoba was McFayden’s second bid for Premier as leader of the PC Party in Manitoba. McFadyen said, “Obviously, we didn’t get those votes in the right places to translate into seats in the Manitoba legislature.”
The National Post’s analysis of the McFayden campaign that he was “worried that the hidden-agenda rumours would make his Conservatives unelectable, Mr. McFayden avoided any positions during the campaign that were obviously right of centre, which basically left him to argue that he would do a better job of implementing the New Democrats’ agenda than they would.”
The CBC’s analysis of the Liberal party decline was that “The Liberals, meanwhile, have been fighting for their survival on the political map with just seven per cent support. Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard managed to hold on to the single seat his party had in the legislature — his own in the Winnipeg riding of River Heights — but no other Liberals were elected.” The Liberal Party in Manitoba could not carve out an identity apart from the Conservatives or the NDP.
Low voter participation
Of 777,054 registered voters, 55.77% or 433,346 cast votes in the election. Low voter turnout could be attributed to voter apathy and disengagement to the elections process, that leaders and their parties are out of touch with Manitobans, or that people feel that elections do not matter.
Do elections matter in Manitoba? In looking back on the Manitoba general election of 2011, was it an important election? What can be done to bring more voters to the polls? Please let me know in the comments below.