News / Vancouver

Vote splitting fears not realized in election: expert

The Green vote may have in fact helped the NDP, says UBC political scientist

The preliminary vote count had the Liberals holding 43 seats, the NDP 41, and the Greens three.

The Canadian Press

The preliminary vote count had the Liberals holding 43 seats, the NDP 41, and the Greens three.

While British Columbians are probably still weeks away from knowing who will be in power, one UBC political scientists says vote splitting did not play the role NDP supporters feared it would. 

The Greens tripled their number of seats this election, with Adam Olsen and Sonia Fursteneau winning their Vancouver Island ridings of North Saanich and the Islands and Cowichan Valley, respectively.

Party leader Andrew Weaver was re-elected in his riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

The preliminary vote count has the Liberals holding 43 seats, the NDP 41 seats, and the Greens three. 

The Green vote, which accounted for 16.74 per cent of the popular vote, may have stole the Liberal’s tantalizingly close majority away from them, according to Kathryn Harrison, a political science professor at UBC.

“I think the Green vote, in fact, helped the NDP fortunes in this election,” she said the morning after the election.

“The Greens basically siphoned votes away from the Liberals and allowed the NDP to come up through the middle.”

For instance, the NDP’s George Chow won in Vancouver-Fraserview, a battleground riding where Liberal cabinet minister, Suzanne Anton, was seeking re-election. Had the Green voters (7.45 per cent) voted for the Liberals instead, Anton would have beat Chow and held onto her riding.

There are more of those kinds of riding than the opposite, where the Liberals took a seat from NDP with the Green vote, said Harrison.

 She estimates there were about eight ridings where the NDP benefitted from the Greens drawing votes away from the Liberals.

But Harrison’s colleague suspects voters gave the Greens the benefit of the doubt this time around and warned that wouldn’t be the case next time.

“They are the none-of-the-above party – a lot of people will project onto them whatever it is they want. Particularly because they didn’t have a chance of governing,” said Richard Johnston, also a political science professor at UBC.

“Now that they may have an important role in governance, this may sharpen up, in the eyes of voters, who the Greens really are.”

Ridings NDP stole from Liberals

“The Green vote not only didn’t prevent an NDP victory, but arguably facilitated it by providing an outlet for disaffected Liberals,” said political scientist Kathryn Harrison.

  1. Burnaby North
  2. Courtenay-Comox
  3. Maple Ridge-Mission
  4. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
  5. North Van-Lonsdale
  6. Port Moody-Coquitlam
  7. Surrey Fleetwood
  8. Vancouver Fraserview

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