No clear mandate #ndpldr

The race to be the next leader of the NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition is looking like it’s going to take at least a few rounds to decide. Few candidates seem to have wide enough support to win on the first, or even second ballot.

In which case, it becomes increasingly hard to justify that whoever wins will have a sweeping mandate to implement their personal platform. Perhaps in light of the attack ads during the last election, no candidates are talking about how they would view a late ballot win. What would will they compromise to attract voters from other camps?

For most candidates, I wouldn’t argue that this is an issue. There are (at least) two candidates though that I see this being an issue.

First, and most obvious, is Nathan Cullen and his plan for joint nominations. I’ve heard and read a number of people who really like Cullen and his approach to politics but are very wary of him winning and implementing a strategy that might compromise the party and throw the next year into wild media speculation.

There is currently little evidence that Cullen has the first-ballot support to win on the first or second ballot. In which case, if he manages to pull off a win, it seems most likely that it will come from other supporters who maintain some reservations about Cullen. This leads to the obvious question: Will Cullen claim to have the mandate to implement his plan if he wins on a late ballot?

On the other hand, there may be enough ballots remaining (in person and online) on convention day for Cullen to discuss what parts of his plan are negotiable to gain support for later ballots.

The second candidate facing a similar issue is Thomas Mulcair’s plan to “bring the middle to us.” His social democratic bona fides have been routinely brought into question during the race as many (I believe justifiably) fear he will move the party more to the mushy middle to win over soft Liberals.

The question for Mulcair at this stage is if he doesn’t win on the first or second ballot (and he is probably the only one with the chance to), what will he offer those remaining sceptics to join his camp?

I’ll try to offer up my final thoughts and endorsements in the next day or two, which will be subject to change until I get to voting (electronically) on election day. With luck the Vancouver Point Grey constituency association will be organizing a pub day viewing and voting session if you want to hang out (if we can ever get the schedule from the NDP). For now, I encourage you to check out Greg Fingas’ comments on his blog (which I mostly agree with).