Majority support coalition if no party has a majority

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Majority support coalition if no party has a majority

Ethics, transparency in government most important election issue

TORONTO April 16th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll among 1365 Canadian voters, the majority, close to 6-in-10 say it is appropriate for two or more parties to form a coalition to govern if no party gets a majority of seats in Parliament (58%) and a similar proportion also favour an informal arrangement between two or more parties to govern (54%). In each case, one third or fewer say these options are inappropriate (30% and 34%, respectively. One tenth don’t have an opinion (12% each).

Liberal voters (73%) and New Democrats (69%) are much more likely to favour a formal coalition than are Conservative voters (36%), and the same pattern applies with respect to a less formal governing arrangement (35%, 65% and 68% approve, respectively).

Coalition/informal arrangement favoured by most if no party gets majority

The plurality of voters say they support some form of cooperative government (41% in total), whether a formal coalition (30%) or an informal governing arrangement (11%) if no party gains a majority of seats in the next election. A further one sixth say they would support a government made up of whomever has the confidence of the House (15%). Just one quarter say they would support the party with the most seats, if those seats didn’t make up a majority (27%). Just more than a tenth don’t have an opinion (13%). Conservative voters are more likely to say the party with the most seats should govern (45%), while Liberals (38%/13%) and New Democrats (40%/10%) are more likely to support a formal coalition/informal arrangement. A Conservative majority is preferred by those who don’t accept the legitimacy of a coalition (45%). Those who do favour a coalition are most likely to support a Liberal majority (26%).

Conservative or Liberal majority equally favoured as electoral outcome

Relatively equal proportions of voters (about a quarter each) see the optimal electoral outcome as a Conservative (24%) or Liberal majority (22%) government, followed by fewer who would like an NDP majority (16%). However, the largest single group in total (31%) would like to see a minority government, whether Liberal (11%), Conservative (8%), NDP (7%) or a coalition (5%). Significant minorities in each party would like to see a minority Conservative (16%), Liberal (18%) or NDP government (17%).

Ethics in government most important election issue

When presented with five major issues facing the Canadian government now, two thirds of voters say ethics and transparency in government has “a great deal of influence” on their vote (65%), and this is especially the case among New Democrats (76%) and Liberals (71%) as opposed to Conservatives (54%).

Next most influential is balancing the budget (43% “a great deal of influence”), especially among Conservatives (67%) but not so much among Liberals (33%) and New Democrats (34%).

Next most influential are the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines and the environment (42%), especially among Greens (63%), New Democrats (45%) but not so much Liberals (39%) or Conservatives (37%). Pipelines are an especially influential issue in Alberta (53%) and BC (49%).

Second to last among these issues is the mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as the mission to the Ukraine, seen as having a “great deal” of influence on one’s vote by 3-in-10 (30%), especially among Conservatives (45%), but not so much among Liberals (26%) or New Democrats (19%). These military adventures are seen to be ballot box issues more in Ontario than elsewhere (37%) and less so in Quebec than elsewhere (21%).

The least influential issue we probed was legal marijuana, cited by one fifth as “a great deal of influence” (19%). This rises to more than a quarter among the youngest (27%), the least wealthy (28%) and in Ontario (26%). Liberals are twice as likely to say marijuana legalization will influence their vote “a great deal” (24%) than are Conservatives (12%), while New Democrats fall between the two other parties (16%).

"It appears that the idea of a coalition government isn’t the bogeyman to voters that the government would like us to believe. Canadians are familiar enough with Westminster government that the wide majority will support some form of cooperative government in a minority situation. One thing is clear, the coalition they are discussing is between the Liberals and the NDP, to supplant a Conservative minority. For one thing, when the number one issue in a wartime election is ethics in government, that’s not a good sign for the government in question," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.