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No mandate for austerity and pipelines in BC

May 15, 2013

BC Liberal leader Christie Clark has claimed the recent election and renewed majority government gives her a mandate to continue the oil and austerity policies that are destroying the province. Even NDP leader Adrian Dix conceded that “elections belong to the voters and the voters decided.” But what did the voters decide?
Of 4.64 million people, 3.15 million are eligible to vote, of which only 1.63 million (52%) voted. Of those, only 725,000 voted for the Liberals, which is a minority (44%) of the vote, a small minority (23%) of eligible voters, and a slim minority (16%) of the population. The Liberals received 28,000 fewer votes than in 2009, but the NDP and green vote also fell.
Despite the massive unpopularity of the Liberals, the NDP failed to motivate people to use the polls to oppose the Liberal, so the results reflected people’s disillusionment with social democracy rather than support for the Liberals. Where NDP candidates did campaign on issues—like George Heyman or David Eby—they won their seats, and even defeated Clark in her own riding. 
But overall the NDP campaign was so timid it failed to mobilize people, and the electoral apathy benefited the Liberals. As we wrote last month, "This is a huge missed opportunity for the NDP and for BC. The NDP could win this election on a much more radical program then they have put forward. The world is moving to the left, and Canada and BC are no exception." This is also a warning to the federal NDP to how momentum can be squandered by campaigning to the centre, rather than a strong left-wing campaign that reflects and reinforces movements against austerity and pipelines. 
These movements have not gone away. But with the Liberals in power, the opposition will need to keep mobilizing in the streets, workplaces and communities to resist pipelines and austerity. 
If  you like this article, register now for Marxism 2013: Revolution In Our Time, a weekend-long conference of ideas to change the world. Sessions include "From Orange Wave to Third Way? The NDP under Mulcair" and "Why is capitalism in crisis."

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