Several major developments on the election front this weekend, that demand a rethink. Flaherty has signalled than any HST deal with Quebec isn't on the near horizon, which means the Bloc's key demand for support simply isn't there. I had concluded that the Bloc was the only option for the government to avoid an election, primarily because I simply couldn't wrap my head around the idea of the NDP propping up the government. With the latest twists, that assumption may well prove flawed, Layton is making overtures with a very "conservative" set of demands, the prospects of a deal now a distinct possibility.
I've argued that there is little real upside for the Conservatives in having an election, more likely they are weakened than attaining the treasured majority. If you listen to the Conservative talking points, safe to assume their internal polling supports that likelihood. For the government then, it becomes a question of finding a dance partner. Again, with the Liberals clearly out, the only reasonable option I entertained was the Bloc, which now clearly requires revision. One caveat, we are nowhere near a deal. However, the fact efforts will be made, somewhat surprising in an of itself.
Why, why is it surprising, if you believe the government wants to avoid? I just can't believe that the NDP can swallow THIS hard. This isn't late 2009, when the electorate was foul about an early election, this isn't a one off support with a phantom extraction, this is the budget, this vote has tentacles that will embarrass for months to come. All the riders within the budget that are rarely discussed on the big day, all those unseemly thrusts, every revelation, will put the NDP on the defensive.
From the Liberal perspective, I would say the NDP supporting this budget represents THE optimal political scenario moving forward. It is for this reason that I struggle to see how the NDP voluntarily accepts this reality. Never mind the bravado, propping up Harper, no matter the scraps, says loud and clear, the NDP see trouble on the electoral horizon. There is simply no way- even for the most skilled of spinsters- to reconcile the big ticket offences contained in this budget from the NDP perspective. One need only look back to last year's budget, and you'll see corporate taxes where the CENTRAL NDP theme.
If we are headed down this road, it represents a delicious concoction from the Liberal perspective. Finally free of holding the bag, we can make the distinction between TWO options, while the NDP apologize and get lost in the budget shadow (Liberals know this game well, to dismiss is to ignore simple hard, well established realities). This is the narrow election window right now, should it pass, we are looking at another full year of Harper rule. The gravity of that reality, no matter the concessions, is something that will destroy every single narrative the NDP have pumped for the past five years. I remain sceptical, but "up is down" apparently, and let's hope so....