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Lessons For The BC NDP From The Municipal Election

November 24, 2008

Many BC Pundits seem to believe that the BC Municipal elections are a good sign for the BC NDP in the next election.

I’m not sure about that: the right wing made gains in quite a few communities as well, such as Quesnel and Surrey.

However, there is a key lesson that the BC NDP can learn for the municipal elections that I haven’t seen the pundits really mention: In order to win, the BC NDP needs to expand upon its winning coalition.

Let me explain.

In Prince George, the mayoral contest was between Dan Rogers and Don Zurowski, with Rogers leaning to the left and Zurowski leaning over to the right. Both were long time, respected council members; however, Rogers ran for mayor for the 2005 municipal elections against incumbent Colin Kinsley and lost. Zurowksi, on the other hand, was (for the most part) supported by the outgoing mayor.

Dan Rogers was able to win this time around because he was successful in expanding his campaign team from beyond the labour council core he had in 2005 and managed to include people from the more right side of the political spectrum. Some of these was done by using messaging often used by the right wing, such as keeping taxes low.

In Vancouver, Gregor Robertson and his supporters managed to overcome the right wing NPA for control. Key to Robertson’s success was the fact he managed to get supporters from outside his political party Vision Vancouver, namely the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the Greens, by cutting electoral deals with them.

It seems that the BC NDP really has two ways of expanding its winning coalition: create messaging to appeal to those leaning more towards the centre or centre-right and/or cutting electoral deals. I think it’s safe to say right off the bat that cutting electoral deals is totally not feasible. Creating messaging to appeal to new voters is feasible, however, and can be done. Actually, it has begun to be done: the BC NDP has already talked about such things as keeping taxes for the middle class and small business low. The key to victory for the BC NDP is to continuing with such messaging and make it gets out to the public.

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