Monday, December 11, 2023

Democracy On The Ropes

In Canada, democracy is on the ropes. Michael Harris writes:

Judging from the public’s view of politicians, especially incumbents, there is more than a little evidence that democracy is more than just running a fever.

The most unpopular provincial leaders in Canada are the premiers of the country’s two biggest provinces. Ontario’s Ford has an approval rating of 34 per cent. His counterpart in Quebec, François Legault, sits at just 31 per cent.

At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an approval rating of 25 per cent, while a whopping 58 per cent disapprove of his performance. That adds up to a net -33 rating for the prime minister—a political death warrant in most circumstances.

But federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre isn’t exactly setting records for personal popularity. Although the Conservative Party is a cab-ride ahead of the Liberals in popularity, just 37 per cent of Canadians had a favourable view of the leader of the opposition, against 33 per cent who held a negative view, according to recent polling.

So that means a modest plus-four favourability rating for Poilievre, but with a large block of Canadians still undecided. In other words, a lot could change between now and election day.

But at this moment, it appears as though voters are prepared to punish incumbents, particularly the ones in power during the COVID-19 pandemic, without being crazy about the alternative. The candidate they dislike the least is the one they will apparently be voting for. It is hardly what could be called robust democracy in action.

People are in a very foul mood:

It is actually anger bordering on rage with a touch of despair. Canadians are angry and despairing about the cost of groceries, heating their homes, getting a house, and running their cars. Poll after poll shows Poilievre with a huge lead over Trudeau in all but two files: climate change and affordable childcare.

With very little policy detail, Poilievre is the resounding choice to lead the way on bringing down the cost of living and reducing the tax burden. Poilievre is betting the farm that Canadians are willing to give up the fight against climate change in exchange for cancelling the Trudeau government’s carbon tax.

It's the same mood in the United States:

As in Canada, Americans are not overly enamoured with either of their presumptive presidential candidates in 2024. They are showing every sign of being tired of democracy, angry, and electorally vengeful.

U.S. President Joe Biden is caught between the same rock and hard place that is squeezing Trudeau towards the exit.

Faced with widespread anger over inflation, interest rates, immigration, and the sense that his country is somehow headed in the wrong direction, Biden faces a disapproval number even worse than Trudeau’s—a crushing 63 per cent. A mere 37 per cent approve of his performance as president. The only number that is going up for Biden is his age—and at 81 years old, that is a problem for his campaign.

But here is the burning issue. The question that will be answered next November is how much are Americans prepared to give up to have their grievances dealt with and their prayers answered?

How voters answer that question will make all the difference.

Image: CNN


Northern PoV said...

I support immigration to Canada and (in the right circumstances) in big numbers.

That said, goosing the numbers to 500k+ per year w/o major public investment in housing (like it was 50 years ago) is both political suicide for the sleepy Libs and devastating to our society.

Lil'PP's cure - cut gov't spending and reduce red tape - is so comically infantile and wrong, the current polling proves that we somnolent voters may get the gov't we deserve. (As will the US voters). A buck-a-beer time.

Hey Toby: I did answer your Dec 7 query in the 'Not Mortal Enemies' comments.

Danneau said...

No party is stepping up with the kind of transformational policy it will take to tackle our multiple intertwined crises. They are seemingly all in thrall to proponents of the way of doing things that largely created our quagmire, and it matters little, because we have a crisis of "too much", and voters are beyond reluctant to relinquish the smallest share of that "too much", or, in the case of the abjectly poor, the opportunity to be in the group that has "too much". The prospects are grim.

Rural said...

As someone who wrote extensively about the threats to our Canadian Democracy some years back I now find myself in a state of total despair regarding the state of our future democracy both here and world wide. That I find myself wondering who, or even if, I am going to vote for when I next get the opportunity makes me think that the worst choices may simply get in by default.

Anonymous said...

Democracy is not the problem. The problem s with the politicians, particularly the leaders. If people think an authoritarian government is better, they should move to Russia, or China, or Venezuela, or . . .


Owen Gray said...

If you invite immigrants in, PoV, they need a place to live.

Owen Gray said...

We have operated on the principle that selfishness is a virtue, Danneau.

Owen Gray said...

One thing is sure, Rural: We will get the government we deserve.

Owen Gray said...

We choose our leaders, GDN. If we make bad choices, we'll have to live with the consequences.

Lorne said...

Owen, I can't help but be reminded of Doug Ford after reading your post. Ford won his first election in 2018 with virtually no policies, just platitudes, and we seem headed in the same direction with the policy-less PP.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne. We're turning over the reins to the vapid.