Monday, March 28, 2011

Federal Election history, 1: September 1867: a coalition election

[This is a history blog.  I hope there will be nothing on it about the current federal election.  But it might be fun to run a few notes on the forty previous federal elections, just to see if any comparisons emerge]

The first federal election is odd in that the Crown picked a prime minister and let him choose a cabinet before July 1, 1867, and then had them fight the first election as incumbents.  Hey, they won. Allowing for some independents and loose fish, John A. Macdonald's first government had the support of about one hundred members of the 180-member House.

A big issue in the first election was coalition.  Once the extraordinary coalition that put together the terms of union had done its job, George Brown argued that ordinary partisan politics should resume, and sought to fight a straight Conservative-Reform electoral battle.  But several leading reformers quite liked being in government and declined to leave Macdonald's team.  Macdonald campaigned vigorously for the "confederation coalition" and the Liberal-Conservative label.  Coalition worked pretty well for him; he got the majority, and Brown was defeated in his own riding.
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