What happened to the Green Party?

With the Liberal party imploding, and a general disdain for the incumbents in the House of Commons, one would think that the Greens would have a shot at finally making some headway this election.  But the opposite actually seems to be true: the Green party is polling worse than it did during the last campaign.

For the most part, the Green have been invisible this campaign.  There was that brief blip right before the debate where everyone was discussing whether or not Elizabeth May should be a participant.  She complained that is was unfair and undemocratic to not include the leader of a national party which received almost 7% of the popular vote last election.  But once it was declared final that she would not be in the debate, she seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth.

Well, maybe not completely off the face of the Earth.  According to some internal polling, she might just win her riding out in Saanich-Gulf Islands.  But does that really mean much overall for the Green Party?  Or is it just an indication that a party that in nominally running a national campaign can focus all of their efforts into one riding?  Any of the major parties could win just about any individual riding if they concentrate all of their efforts on that riding.  But the other parties all care about increasing support overall, not just winning one riding.

Since the debate, Elizabeth May has almost never been mentioned in the newspapers.  She gets no TV time.  All of their ‘ads’ are on the internet.  In short, May has done nothing to engage the electorate across the country.  The Greens are polling consistently in the mid-single digits, and that hasn’t changed since the beginning of the campaign.  Maybe I am missing out on a really good ground game in a number of targeted riding across the country, but I sincerely doubt it.  To me, it looks like the Greens have gone from a one-issue party to a one-candidate party.

If ever there was an election for the Greens to make a major breakthrough, this was it.  There was serious criticisms of the Conservatives, and the Liberals had a very weak leader.  Instead of the Greens using their (sort-of) centre platform to peel off voters from both the Liberals and the Conservatives, they let the NDP take control of the narrative and take all of the support from the disenfranchised.  They missed a golden opportunity to make a major breakthrough, and the will probably pay for it for years to come.  Even at the beginning of this election, there was some indication that any of the incumbents could be vulnerable, and after the final ballots are counted, I suspect the electorate will realize that if the Greens couldn’t gain more support in this election, there is probably no point in voting for them in the future, since they will probably never be relevant.

And I think that sentiment will be there even if Elizabeth May wins her seat.  It might even make it worse if she doesn’t do much once she gets there, and how much of the Green Party platform can she really promote as a single MP?  My guess, not much.

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3 Responses to What happened to the Green Party?

  1. Adam Walker says:

    This isn’t surprising. The Greens have gone from a “let’s get someone elected” party to a “let’s get Elizabeth May elected” party. With the efforts focused on electing her in SGI, most Green candidates are on their own.
    Then again, every election has been called the most important for the Green Party. I expect that will continue into the next election as well.
    The reality is that May is a fine politician, but she isn’t a leader. That will be downfall of the whole party. If she doesn’t get elected and, drag some others into the House of Commons with her, she should be out.

    • If May wins her seat, it means she is pretty much guaranteed to stay on as the leader of the party. If no other members win any seats, the Green party is going to be more of a non-issue than it currently is.

      The Greens didn’t raise their profile between elections, and they haven’t raised their profile during this election. I only know they have a platform because I pay attention to all the parties. They have failed miserably at letting the rest of the electorate know, though.

      And I don’t see that changing if May is the only candidate elected from the party.

      • Adam Walker says:

        The reverse argument being that if she is elected, they can say “we have a Green party member” elected in the HoC, which should raise the profile of the whole party. It would also shut the morons who say “They need to have an elected MP to be in the debate” up.
        Of course, if she fails to do anything after being elected, then it becomes a moot point. And if she doesn’t get elected, it can be partially blamed on riding selection. I think she would have had a better chance in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound or Guelph, where Greens have traditionally polled second or third out of four or five parties. Running the leader there might be enough to push them over the top.

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