I’m often puzzled by American politics, but it’s relatively simple. There are liberal and conservative parties, with ambiguous names, and they occasionally swap places. Usually they overlap, but not in this century.
Canadian politics, however, can be confusing.
There are five national parties, four of which are national, and they are named after what they stand for, except when they aren’t. And they change.
My space-alien friend, Zaphod Beeblebrox, asked me to explain them. In pictures, as he only reads hieroglyphics, so I drew this:
The most liberal party was (and is) the NDP, which overlapped with the Liberals, who overlapped with the Progressive Conservatives, who overlapped with the Reform. That is illustrated in the first line of the Venn diagram on the left.
Historically, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives were the parties who got elected.
The New Democratic Party (“NDP”) is our furthest-left party, and when not actually governing or trying to govern, will actually say “socialist” in public. The other parties regularly call them socialists.
The Liberal Party is centrist, and is distinguished by being socially liberal and economically conservative. They usually form the government (ie, get elected). They believe the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, taxes should not rise and that budgets should usually balance. They are regarded by the conservative parties as “tax and spend liberals” and bad at budgeting. On bad days, liberals fear that’s correct.
The Progressive Conservative Party (“PC”) is centrist, and is distinguished from the liberals by being economically conservative and socially liberal. The occasionally form the government, and wish it was more often. They believe the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, and that taxes should fall if they can ever get the budget to balance. They are regarded by the liberal parties as legitimate conservatives, but ones who spend money like drunken sailors. On bad days, conservatives fear that’s correct.
The Reform Party is our most conservative party, and they once described themselves as “one third libertarian, one third objectivist and one third religious conservative”. The other parties just call them names like “troll”. Good day or bad, they think they’re the people who should be in charge.
Everything, however, is subject to change.
In a brilliant move, the Reform Party did a reverse takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party, and got rid of the term “Progressive”, which used to confuse everyone. As a result they formed the government for several terms (ie, they ran the place).
Unfortunately, they only got the majority of the PC party, not including a whole wodge of people in the centre, as illustrated by the suspicious empty hole in the second line of the Venn diagram. They won elections, as they had “united the right”, but they left a bunch of unsatisfied voters in the centre.
The liberals promptly moved right to fill the hole, and lost a bigger wodge of people on their left to the NDP, who stayed in the same place.
After a number of tries…
The Liberals finally learned to campaign in the presence of trolls and surprisingly un-Canadian levels of grumpyness, and are governing once more. They seem to have got a lot of voters from the hole and some from the NDP.
The hole still exists, the Conservatives don’t seem to have a place for centrists and the NDP still overlaps with the Liberals, just not at much.
It’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll try for just two parties, go back to four or try to make three work.
Zaphod strongly suggested we should go back to four. However, he said it was because four is a prime number on his planet. I too am inclined to think we should go back to four, but probably not for his reasons.