Sunday, 19 October 2008

Monday Mission

A Tale of Two Elections

In North America there are two countries, one of great expanse with lots of rocks and trees and a fringe of people huddled along the border between it and the other a country that also a has a huge expanse but is far more peopled.

In both of these countries, democracies of variant type, there are elections this autumn. In the country to the south, this election takes months and months and months to prepare, to select candidates and to, finally, choose them, candidates for both houses of the legislature and, most engrossing, candidates for the office of president of the republic. In the other, a parliamentary monarchy, the election is held at the decision of the governing party and, accordingly, there usually are a lot more elections, even though they don't take as long.

The election in the northern country took place on Tuesday last. The governing party, having passed legislation setting a four year term for the parliament, dissolved it a year before the four years had passed (thus making a monkey of itself just for starters). Received opinion is that this was done because the country was prosperous, there were no real issues that had the electorate annoyed with its government and that, therefore, the government could make gains and have a stronger mandate. Looking ahead to a cloudy future, the governing party set as short a length of time for the campaign as is legal, ran advertisements displaying its leader in a Mr. Roger's Neighborhood sweater, did not present a 'platform', or anything very new and different, and hoped that the voters would maybe not notice the election much at all and just vote them back in. With a majority.

Boy, were they surprised when the economy of their neighbour went all wobbly, pulling their own economy after it. Luckily this happened too close to voting day to make much of a difference, but it did mean that those people who bothered to vote (about 50% of those eligible) were a bit undecided and the results, when tallied, produced a new parliament not much different from the last.

The same economic woes did not do much to divert the southern neighbour's election from its long and tortuous path. It did, perhaps, change the colour of the last scheduled televised debate a bit, but otherwise the two parties and their candidates kept on the same Pilgrim's progress that they had been treading for the last weary months. These two unfortunate people, you see, are programmed like Barbie dolls, and when you press their buttons, they say the same thing, over and over and over. This is called 'staying on message', I believe, and while it is a cut above saying nothing and looking cuddly (which most of the northern country's candidates did beautifully in two official languages), it gets a little wearing after while.

At least, in this southern country, people pay attention to their election. In fact, people in the northern country pay far more attention to their neigbours' election than they do to their own. Perhaps the low turnout cited above can be ascribed to the fact that there are still sixteen days or so to go before voting day and, given that most of the television watched by the huddled northern fringe is coming across the border, the poor sods in Canada never noticed their own election and are waiting for November.

I think that the upcoming American election probably is more important for Canada than our own. Which is a sad, sad thought.


  1. wow, yours is up before mine! I'll go link it.

    and interesting northern take on affairs! I really am looking forward to this being over.