Daya Varma


A campaign to elect any one who is most likely to defeat the candidates of  Conservative Party in November 14 elections contributed to Harper’s failure to get a majority government. This tactics can have implications in Indian elections.



The present and the preceding minority government in Canada is led by Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, one of the most socially, politically and fiscally conservative governments in recent Canadian history.  Harper dissolved the parliament and opted for elections in hope of forming a majority government. All the polls indicated that he would succeed until a few days prior to the election date set for October 14.  Harper did not get a majority. The major factor contributing to Harper not getting a majority was the role played by Bloc Quebecois, a Quebec based party led by Gill Duceppe.  Without increasing his seats in Quebec, Harper could not muster a majority and Bloc Quebecois succeeded in preventing this from happening.


More interesting another initiative that contributed to Harper not getting a majority is a unique initiative of the independent membership-funded group Avaaz (voice in many South Asian languages including Urdu and Hindi). In just the 2 weeks before election day, Avaaz members rallied to run full page newspaper ads and hundreds of radio ads across the country, raised over $135,000 in a few days, produced a song from top Canadian artists that played on radio stations across the country, helped get over 400,000 Canadians to receive voting guidance from VoteforEnvironment.ca, and took over 15000 pledges to vote strategically in close races. The idea behind the strategic voting was to vote for the candidate of any other party who was more likely to defeat the Conservative Party candidate.  This campaign was significant enough to be taken note of by the media and the Harper government.


Perhaps Indian civil society organizations could learn from this experience and use it in the Parliamentary elections due next year by advocating for voting for any candidate most likely to defeat Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance candidates.


(Based on a Report by Ricken Patel of Avaaz Canada: info@avaaz.org)

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