In a little over two years, we’ll go to the polls again here in B.C. Nationally, it’ll be almost three years.
While the civic elections we just held take place like clockwork, every four years, provincial and federal elections, thanks to minority governments and the whims of premiers and prime ministers, can take place a lot more often.
Technically, we have terms of up to five years for each government, with legislation mandating shorter periods, of four years.
But our leaders see those as mere guidelines, not rules.
Under British Parliamentary systems of governance – which we inherited, along with the monarchy – the leader of the legislature can ask the King’s representative to dissolve the whole shebang, and hold new elections.
That’s if they don’t get a vote of no confidence from the opposition parties, in a minority government, and we’ve had mostly minority governments in Ottawa for a little while now.
So our political leaders are playing a kind of exhausting electoral game of chicken with their opponents, every day of every year.
Is the opposition weak? Has their newest leader flubbed a recent press conference? Is the economy good, bad, indifferent? Is public confidence high or low?
If things look good for the party in power, it’s time for a trip to see the governor general federally or lieutenant governor provincially, to call for elections.
It’s often successful. Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP at various levels have all been able to stage-manage a successful election by picking the right timing.
But it’s exhausting. October’s civic elections saw voter turnout dwindle to just under 30 per cent across the province. Turnout was down across most of the south Island, ranging from a low of around 24 per cent in Esquimalt and Langford to a high of 47 per cent in Metchosin.
We need elections, but we also need time between elections, for government to get on with the business of actually governing.