With only 5 weeks to learn who will be running in this election, it is time for a primer on the 19 officially registered political parties. The policies and platforms of each party will be discussed over the next few days. Here are the list of parties running in this election:
The Big Five
Conservative Party of Canada
As the current minority government, the Conservative Party of Canada will be looking for a majority government once again. In the 2008 election, they gained 19 seats over 2006 despite only a 1.4% increase in the popular vote. If they manage to gain another 19, they will easily have the majority government they seek.
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party continues to lag slightly behind the Conservative Party in the polls for the third straight election, but they will hope for improvement in the coming weeks behind new leader Michael Ignatieff. The Liberals had a massive reduction in seats from 103 to 77 last election, with a 4% drop in the popular vote.
New Democratic Party
Under Jack Layton, the New Democratic Party have seen their best days since the Ed Broadbent era. Over the last three elections, the NDP have nearly doubled their seats from 19 to 37, with a 0.7% increase in the popular vote since the last election. While his health has been a prime cause for concern, Layton will look to continue his party’s momentum in the next election.
While those of us in Alberta will not have the opportunity to vote for the Bloc, they have become the ultimate swing vote. There has been a slight downturn in momentum for the Bloc, having gone from a high of 54 seats in 2004 to 47 at the current dissolution. Their popular vote percentage in Quebec has dropped from 49% in 2004 to 38%, accounting for only 10% of the popular vote in Canada.
Green Party of Canada
Whether it is considered the common “protest” vote or just due to people wishing to treat the Earth better, the Green Party by far has had the highest upward momentum in recent years, having gone from a meager 0.8% at the turn of the century to 6.8% in 2008. While they have yet to win any seats, they have had a candidate in every riding two of the last three elections, and will likely have a full slate once again.
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
They may be controversial, but the CHP had the highest percentage of votes among the remaining parties in 2008, with 0.19% of the popular vote. Their momentum was at a standstill in 2008, with a nil percentile swing in popular vote over 2006. They had 59 candidates during the last election.
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
It may surprise some people to know that the Marxist-Leninist Party has been around since 1974. In 1980, they even had candidates in 177 ridings. Just like the CHP, they had 59 candidates in the last election, but lost 0.02% of the popular vote, down to 0.06% overall.
Libertarian Party of Canada
There has been a resurgence in Libertarian policy over the past few years, especially in the United States behind such idealists as Ron Paul and Bob Barr (contrary to his own belief, Glenn Beck is -not- a Libertarian). First having run in 1979, the Libertarian Party had between 52-88 candidates in a given election. After financial troubles kept them out of the 1997 and 2000 elections, they filed the papers again in 2004 and have tripled their candidates, up to 26 in 2008, with their popular vote rising from 0.01% to 0.05% in that given time.
Progressive Canadian Party
While the PC Party attempted to follow in the footsteps of its’ predecessor (Progressive Conservative Party), their momentum has floundered, dropping 0.06% of the popular vote in 2008, to a low of 0.04%.
Communist Party of Canada
Not to be confused with the Marxist-Leninist Party, the Communist Party of Canada has been around since 1930. They have failed to receive more than 0.1% of the popular vote since 1974. The 2006 and 2008 elections have had their lowest total vote counts since their inception.
Canadian Action Party
No minority party has had a drop-off in recent years like the Canadian Action Party. In 2000, they pulled in 0.21% of the popular vote with 70 candidates, but have dropped down to 20 candidates and only 0.03% of the popular vote.
I likely don’t have to tell you about the Marijuana Party’s platform, but their momentum has decreased in recent years. While their main issue continues to remain a hot button issue, their candidate count dropped all the way down to 8 in 2008. They did however see an increase in voting in their ridings however, up to 1%, despite a drop to 0.02% in the popular vote.
The Rhinoceros Party is satirical in nature, but they had a mini-resurgence in 2008 fielding seven candidates in the election. While they may never again have candidates in 120 ridings and 1.01% popular vote, it’s nice to see humour in the often serious world of politics.
First Peoples National Party of Canada
The First Peoples National Party of Canada first ran in 2006, and has gained a small amount of support since, going from 0.56% to 0.98% in ridings with their candidates.
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
The Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada increased its’ candidate number from 1 to 4 in 2008, also increasing their riding share vote percentage to 0.28% from 0.12%.
Western Block Party
The Prairies’ equivalent to the Bloc Quebecois, the Western Block will likely have only a handful of candidates as the movement attempts to gain acceptance.
People’s Political Power Party of Canada
The People’s Political Power Party of Canada will look to improve on their 189 votes garnered in their first election in 2008.
New Kids on the Block
Pirate Party of Canada
The Pirate Party of Canada will be running in their first ever election, with seven candidates over five provinces, including one in Alberta (Edmonton Centre). The Pirate Party has been gaining notoriety with such hot button issues as net neutrality and, more recently, usage-based billing for bandwidth.
United Party of Canada
The United Party of Canada will also be running in their first ever election, on a centrist platform mixed between Libertarian and Progressive Conservative.