Consider a surprising equality scenario

If the trend continues, the next government will be in the minority. But who will train him? In the event of exceptionally tight results, such as a difference of a few seats, it might be impossible to say for days or even weeks after Monday’s vote, experts on the parliamentary system warn.

“A minority government situation can be very misleading. “On reading the latest polls, which point to a very close result in the September 20 elections, professor at the Department of Legal Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal Hugo Cyr warns the media: if the two parties are almost tied , announce the winner too quickly, “it can be politically dangerous”.

Contrary to popular belief, he says, it is not automatic that the leader of the party winning the most seats is the one called upon to form the next government. First, because Justin trudeau is still the Prime Minister, and because he will remain so until his resignation or a loss of confidence in the next Parliament. In short, a close result opens the door to possible and lengthy political intrigues.

The Prime Minister who ends up with fewer seats will resign the same day. But it is not a constitutional obligation.

“Yes, tradition dictates that we usually make room for the party that won the most seats. The Prime Minister who ends up with fewer seats will resign the same day. But it is not a constitutional obligation, at the level of the convention ”, distinguishes Philippe Lagassé, professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, and specialist in the parliamentary systems of Westminster.

“If we have a scenario where Justin Trudeau finishes second, either in number of seats or in number of votes, it all depends on whether he wants to concede a defeat and offer his collaboration to Erin O’Toole, or if he wants to hang on and seek the confidence of the House. And he has every right, ”adds Patrick Taillon, professor at the Faculty of Law at Laval University.

The possible scenario

In the event of a tight minority result, and especially in the event of a liberal slide just in second place, experts will be watching very carefully what Justin Trudeau says after the results are released. If Mr. Trudeau concedes victory, the leader of the party that elected the most MPs is likely to become Prime Minister. If not, political history could take an unusual turn.

“It comes down, ultimately, to the choice of Mr. Trudeau [de tenter sa chance pour s’accrocher]. The Governor General will not get involved, ”says Philippe Lagassé. He evokes the scenario, after all plausible, in which the NDP, the Green Party or the Bloc Quebecois would trust the Liberals again, for reasons of convergence of ideas, instead of supporting a Conservative Party that came first in the poll.

Justin Trudeau could thus theoretically remain Prime Minister while having “lost” the elections. If he fails to obtain the required support, his main opponent would be called upon to try to form the government. However, he in turn would need the support of the opposition parties. Otherwise, the country would plunge again into an electoral campaign.

Not so distant precedents

Although rare, and never seen at the federal level since the 1920s, the scenario of an unexpected turnaround in the aftermath of an election has indeed occurred in two provinces in recent years, recalls Patrick Taillon.

In 2017, in British Columbia, the Liberal Party won the most seats, but it was quickly ousted by an alliance between Greens and NDP. In 2018, the Liberal Party in New Brunswick attempted to cling to power, with a larger percentage of the popular vote but one seat less than the Conservative Party. The Liberals were quickly overthrown by a House vote, opening the door to a government under Conservative Blaine Higgs, the current Prime Minister.

“The chances that the number of seats is really close to being equal are present” for this election, confirms Philippe J. Fournier, creator of the 338Canada poll aggregator. “It would be enough for the Liberals to have a result a little worse than the average [mesurée dans les sondages en date de jeudi]. »

At the time of this writing, his predictions were 145 Liberal seats for 126 Conservatives. The CBC public network compiler, Poll Tracker, instead projected 150 Liberal and 120 Conservative seats, with however a large margin of possible results, including that of statistical equality. At the start of the month, those projections indicated that it was the Conservatives who were leading by a few seats.

Justin Trudeau repeats wanting to “send the greatest number of Liberal MPs to represent their community well”, but never specifies whether or not he wishes to cling to power despite a defeat. He just said on a daily basis Press that he “does not [va] nothing to rule out ”. If it ever goes down this path, it will have to not only negotiate the support of opposition parties, but also justify it to the public.

“Justin Trudeau is really advantaged, at the moment, with the rules of the game, summarizes Patrick Taillon. But beyond the conventions, there are behaviors which are perhaps not obligatory, but which would be the embodiment of fair-play and the ideal way to behave. “

The NDP has not closed the door to collaboration, but the Bloc Québécois refuses to take part in a formal coalition. His boss, Yves-Francois Blanchet, has still not shown its preference between a Liberal or a Conservative government.

“I am the holder of a certain tradition,” he said on Wednesday. You don’t change the rules and traditions because it doesn’t suit you. The leader with the largest number of deputies will normally be invited to form a government. “

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