Monday, October 15, 2007

Alberta Politics

There are 4 known political party "systems" which have dominated Alberta's political history. It began with the Liberals of 1905-1921. Then the UFA came out of nowhere to beat the Liberals and held on for the next 3 elections. Mired in a sex scandal, Premier John Brownlee resigned in 1934 and consequently, in the 1935 election, the UFA were completely dominated by the Social Credit party. Aberhart led the Social Creds for 2 elections before he died, which was arguably the most beneficial thing for the party. In 1943 Ernest Manning took the helm and held on until 1968 when he stepped down. Consequently Harry Strom took over and was annihilated by Peter Lougheed in the 1971 election. Lougheed held onto power until 1985 when Don Getty took over as Premier. The Conservatives were looking very weak going into the 1993 election (Getty had resigned and Klein was elected leader) but Klein took a majority and never looked back. Now, Premier Ed Stelmach has taken the lead and set up an interesting scenario.
-Will Ed Stelmach turn out to be like Don Getty, a transitional leader who held on while a populist styled leader turned up (Klein)?
-Will Ed Stelmach turn out to be like Harry Strom, a victim of a long governed party to which a viable alternative showed up in the form of Peter Lougheed?

I would argue that Ed Stelmach is going to be a Don Getty type leader. The Alberta Liberal party is NOT a viable alternative and the NDP has never and will never be. Unlike Harry Strom, there is no viable right-winged alternative party in Alberta and even if there were, it would have to have a populist-type leader before it became a viable option for Albertans.

However, this is the prime time for a strong push for a party such as the Alberta Alliance party to make a push to become the ruling party in Alberta. If they were to elect a personable leader who genuinely offers an alternative Conservative option to Albertans, history would predict that they have a chance to take a majority government. People are fed up with the Conservatives but faced with no alternative, will keep voting them into power.

The question then becomes: What will happen first? A viable alternative to the Conservatives or a populist leader emerging in the Conservative party? Only time will tell...