On the Swedish Election and Scotland #indyref

On the Swedish elections today, the reality is that the third party (the Swedish Democrats) were the big winner as their anti-immigration rhetoric went well among the electorate. Even the Social Democrats who finished first had an historically low score. For the local elections, the Social Democrats did not do very well.

The Greens and the Left Party had not won a lot more than they did in 2010. For the Alliance, the Moderates lost what they won since 2006, and the other parties were able to stay over the 4% threshold.

The future PM will be a big task ahead of him. Cabinet formation will be difficult no matter what, and the future Swedish PM never had any political experience not even as MP.

For the Scottish referendum. Still too close to call. But one thing is sure, it was a really nasty campaign. When you have people associated with the Yes side who picket a BBC station as a vendetta against a journalist because he did his job by asking a tough question, something is not right in Scotland.

I know what suicide is.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

You probably all know someone in your life who had suicidal thoughts or who commited suicide. Even in the news, the case of someone famous and popular like Robin Williams who ended his life this way have made us all think a lot about suicide.

I myself had suicidial thoughts a few years ago. Some people I know ended their lives this tragic way.

Because I felt rejected, depressed, alone and distressed.

Even if you have people to talk to, you sometimes feel alone. Very alone to the point that ending it all become the only good solution.

There is no doubt that suicide is an horrible thing. It affects people of all ages, all backgrounds of life and people who all have their own story to tell.

You can be rich, poor, young, old, man, woman, it doesn’t matter.

There is no easy way to fight suicide, but one thing is sure, to be open and willing to talk to people sometimes do all the difference in the world.

But life is worth living, as there are wonderful small things that someone could appreciate, even in the darkest hours.

Because life is not supposed to be perfect, but it’s full of small and big surprises which makes it worth living it as much as you can. This is how I got over my suicidal thoughts. It’s never easy and I sometimes wake up at night thinking about these events. But the greatest step is the first step, sometimes to just talk about it.

It’s however our duty to listen and give help to people in our lives who need it, like people did for me. Considering where I am today I feel proud that they had done this step to help me in my darkest moments.

To a Federal United Kingdom? #ukpoli #indyref

There is no doubt that there is unfinished business in British politics.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have devolved parliaments.

But what about England. What if England (or its regions) have its own parliament/s, but with a smaller federal House of Commons?

This idea is hardly radical, as it will be similar to federalism in Canada or Australia.

But yet, it’s clear now that Labour had done a mistake by their process of devolution both in the 1970’s and in the mid 1990’s. Instead of devolving power to all parts of the UK equally, they have created a broken system, a system where there is a false impression in Scotland (or Wales) that everything is London fault when in fact, the devolved assemblies have significant powers in health and in education for instance, even if their tax raising powers are still (sadly) very limited.

Better Together or Better Separated? #indyref

The biggest mistake for the Unionists is taking things for granted and not having a strong case for the union. 
Canadians have a love-hate relationship with referendums. Sometimes they are seen as a big loss to the ‘establishment" , like the 1992 constitutional referendum which have not passed even if every mainstream political group was for it, or sometimes they are seen as a sort of democratic miracle, as in a Monday in October 1995, where the turnout in the Quebec independence referendum was close to 94% when regular turnout in general elections in Quebec is usually in the 70-ish%.

There was two referendums in Quebec in regard to secession, in 1980, and in 1995 where the no won in a very close race. Polls in the last days were clear about giving a victory to the yes, but undecided’s came back to the no camp at the last minute.

But the way the Scottish referendum had been managed have been very British, very fair play. Unlike the two referendums in Quebec, the question is clear and accepted by the Electoral Commission and the date had been chosen by both sides. In Quebec, both the federal government and the government of Quebec were in conflict, even as the federal prime minister at the time (Jean Chrétien) was a French-Canadian representing a constituency in rural Quebec. This would be like if David Cameron was MP in a Scottish constituency.

In Quebec, the question in both referendums with either too long (like in 1980) or not clear enough (like in 1995), considering that a question like the one asked in the Scottish referendum would have been voted yes by about 40% of the electorate according to polls.

Indeed, the situation in Quebec is similar to Scotland, both have an economy which public funding take a big part of the economy. Both have some natural resources (Quebec have mining and hydroelectricity), but both have big challenges. Quebec have a very high debt, all this with a workforce which is becoming the oldest in North America and a public sector which is difficult to reform. Healthcare spending is up and the NHS-type system have difficulty since decades with very high waiting times and a bad service like the Welsh NHS.

It’s agreeable that the Yes side in the Scottish referendum had not played too much the ethnic nationalist card. Quebec have the "old school" nationalist bent, language is an important issue, even if strict language laws have made that Quebec is seen as a francophone state in North America, there is a difficult relationship among some elements of the nationalist bend with people not so cool to the nationalists. Language has in a way replaced the Roman Catholic Church as the main factor in Quebecois nationalism.

Immigrants, anglophones and First Nations have never been at ease with the Parti Québécois (Quebec’s answer to the SNP) since their former leader Jacques Parizeau said on election night as First Minister that he was beaten ‘essentially with money and some ethnic votes". As the former charismatic nationalist first minister Lucien Bouchard (who was considered to be a right-winger in his party) said recently in a documentary, having Parizeau saying that on referendum night was like "losing two times".

The other fact is that the PQ had suffered their worse election result since 1970 just a few months ago in part because of a policy which turned badly because they wanted to have a majority government at all costs. The Quebec Charter of Values which would have been prohibited employees of the state from wearing any visible religious symbol. This radical policy was seen among many immigrants and more progressive members of the nationalist coalition as a toxic policy in order to please a portion of rural Quebec which is quite right-wing. The Charter was also technically unconstitutional (among both the Canadian and Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms), and they were an impression among some that this charter was a tool designed to receive disapproval from the Federal Supreme Court, in order to create a constitutional crisis to play the independence card.

This means that today, the Quebec’s version of the SNP are in a bad state, being third right now in the latest polls behind the centrist Liberal Party and the centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec with left-wingers going to Quebec Solidaire which is an socialist party who is also for independence. The PQ is also being divided in a coming leadership battle between the right-wing and the left-wing of the party, along with a current corruption inquiry which tend to hurt everyone who was in power in the few decades in Quebec. The PQ is also doing more and more badly among younger voters in Quebec, which is a new trend, but perhaps a trend that it was the party of one generation, which was the generation born during the after-war baby boom.

Perhaps that it’s not too crazy to think that Quebec is what Scotland will be in decades. But one thing is sure, history told us in Quebec case that it is foolish to write off a pro-independence movement even if they lose a referendum. I see a strong case that even if it’s a losing referendum, the SNP in power would want to do another referendum as soon as they have the public opinion on their side. It’s as in Quebec’s case, a neverendum. A referendum that never ends.
Sadly, the no side in the Scottish side had done the same mistake as in Quebec, having taken for granted their support as the no side had done in the 1995 referendum in Quebec, and they are now panicking a week before the vote, with none other than Gordon Brown taking the lead. This is as weird as it could gets, all this in a campaign where it’s dumb and dumber between the yes and the no sides.
PS: To the English people saying that it would be a good thing Scotland would go, be careful what you wish for, as it is very likely that England and the rest of the UK, will have trouble in the next few years during the transition period if the yes wins Negotiations could turn out sour regarding contentious things such as natural resources and the debt. It will have impact on people in the UK one way or the other. This is why it’s always risky for "rich" countries to have something as drastic as independence, especially when they have a lot to lose unlike places like South Sudan or Kosovo. 

Mandatory Voting. An easy to do but bad solution.

Seems that the Liberal Party of Canada is more and more interested to put mandatory voting forward.

For a party who is so interested in giving the freedom to smoke and buy marijuana and to a woman to choose to abort a fetus, the party seems committed to force people to vote.

The main argument for this is essentially that we must force people to vote because they are too stupid or too lazy to do that themselves and that they must vote to be a good citizen.

The Liberal Party of Canada who believes that adults are smart enough to buy weed or for woman to abort a baby as a matter of individual choice, suddenly thinks that the same government should force people to vote.

As much as some developed countries have mandatory voting, the arguments for mandatory voting are the same that for a military draft among the general population, which is something which provoked a quasi-civil war during both World Wars.

I usually vote myself. But I actually understand why people do not vote. They do it for different reasons, and some of them are very legitimate.

There is also a naive view that compulsory voting will reduce cynicism or will put more legitimacy into politicians. It will not. For some it will be seen as a chore you are forced to do, no more, no less.

Ask any Australian or Belgian to think what they think about their politicians and they will probably have the same answer as in Canada.

Instead of compulsory voting, why not a reform to a voting system where you tend to vote more against than for, as for voting for a given candidate only because he is the only one who could beat the guy you hate.

In the Canadian context, the recent referendums told us that voting reform is really difficult to pass, but there is no doubt that this is much more constructive solution than forcing people to vote in the same old system.

The "beau risque" of @DouglasCarswell

For those who don’t know what the French term "beau risque" (nice risk) mean in a political context read this.

Am I stunned with Douglas Carswell to resign and contest a by-election as a UKIP candidate?

Yes, even if Carswell would have been more at ease with UKIP in 2011-2012 than the UKIP of today.

I wish Carswell well in whatever he is doing, he is a genuinely nice person and you under-estimate him at your own peril.

Many who bash Carswell don’t know him. He is unlike many plastic politicians of today.

But there is no doubt that Carswell deflection will procure a blip to UKIP support and considering the actual electoral system, there is a strong chance that Ed Miliband becomes prime minister with a majority even if he wins 35-36% of the popular vote.

I agree however that if UKIP become the new Liberal Democrats that it is a double edged sword for Labour. What they will win due to vote splitting, they could lose big in former Labour heartlands and in swing regions such as Essex and Kent.

In Rotherham for example, the Labour Party is the old, tired, corrupt party in power since too many years.

But I agree that if Ed Miliband is PM, you could forget about any changes about the EU. Carswell would have helped those having no intention of going in the right direction especially considering Britain FPTP electoral system.

In the 1990’s, the former Canadian Reform Party won many seats in constituencies which were former social-democratic strongholds. But in the end, Liberals won parliamentary majorities because they won about a 100 seats in the seat rich province of Ontario due to the vote slip between the Reform and the Progressive Conservatives.

Now for the seat. Carswell could win his seat. Even as an independent he would have a good shot.