There is a recent article in the Globe and Mail that despite Stephen Harper’s success and advertising campaign very few Canadians are comfortable giving him and his party a majority government. Only 26% of Canadians according to this poll are comfortable with the idea of Harper winning a majority government in the next election, 30% are extremely unhappy with the idea.
People are obviously welcome to whatever opinion they desire, but I would like to comment on this feeling. I cannot help but think that Canadians are hesitant to give any party a majority government. Given the constitutional power invested in the Parliament, which has accrued to the Prime Minister, we elect a virtual dictator when we put a majority government in office. Majority governments are dramatically less accountable and cannot be as easily held to public pressure.
While minority governments may be “unstable”, majorities suffer from far too much stability. The fate of the government is in the hands of one leader, not the people’s. I wonder if similar percentages would exist (or be higher) for Michael Ignatieff, or Jack Layton? Maybe Canadians are tired of majorities.
It’s unlikely that Canadians are intellectually thinking that majorities are less accountable, but they probably like the idea of the power of the government constantly being confounded by the Opposition. I know I do anyway, at least until we can make Canada a more democratic country.