Is the NDP selling themselves short?

I see there are other threads on the current Canadian parliamentary dispute, but I’m interested in discussing just one specific aspect of it: namely, are the NDP selling themselves short with respect to their role in the proposed coalition?

Currently the NDP holds about half as many seats in Parliament as the Liberals (37 versus 77, respectively), and yet the proposed coalation would grant the NDP only a quarter of the cabinet ministries (6 versus 18 for the Liberals). A distribution of cabinet ministries more in line with their representation in Parliament would give the NDP 8 and the Liberals 16. Anyone know why this isn’t the case? I suppose the Bloc could have influenced the apportionment, but given their social-democratic ideology, one would think that they’d be more likely to support the NDP than the Liberals.

From the NDP perspective the difference between 6 Cabinet seats and 8 just isn’t all that meaningful as opposed to the lure of actually being part of a government. It would not have been much of a chip to give away. Just two cabinet positions is not worth risking the coalition over, if you’re the NDP.

It would also appear that the Liberal Party is in a weak and shaky position about this; some of its members are publicly grousing about the arrangement. While you might think this puts the NDP in a position of strength, it’s somewhat the opposite; giving the NDP more of the Cabinet might make Liberal members even less sold on the coalition. The NDP had to concede more in order to make the coalition happen, because the coalition is worth more to them and easier to sell to them. Reports are that one of the major attractions to the Liberal members were that with only 77 seats in Parliament, half their entire caucus would have either a ministry or a secretarial position. The ministerial goodies are more important to the Liberals - who assume it their right to govern anyway - than they are to the NDP, who have never been close to being in a position of power and so were much more swayed just by the prospect of being part of the coalition.

The NDP is a fringe party. In the last 5 elections they’ve averaged 12 % of the popular vote. Only once did they break 20% barely, only to subsequently drop in the next election to below 7 %.

They have slowly climbed back to 17.5 %

In short, they don’t really have much to negotiate with for cabinet seats, and to have any at all is a huge step forward for them.

Dion had to be really desperate to offer them as many seats as he did.

That characterization is unfair.

Fringe parties don’t win seats. The Christian Heritage Party is a fringe party. The Marxist-Leninist party is a fringe party. Fringe parties have NOTHING to offer because they never get anyone into Parliament. They’re the parties that get 0.1% of the vote. A party that gets the vote of one in six Canadians and represents more than ten percent of them in Parliament is hardly “Fringe.”

Actually, that’s the very definition of “fringe party” in much of the world. You’re not one of the big boys until you start getting at least 15%+ of the seats. It may be arbitrary, but that never stopped anyone.

Fair enough. I can’t google any reference to the NDP as a “fringe” party.

Its still a party that hasn’t a hope in hell of leading a federal government.

Maybe not, but it’s formed governments in 4 of 10 provinces. The NDP simply isn’t a fringe player in Canadian politics. It’s solidly mainstream and has held the balance of power in the federal Parliament multiple times.

Cite, if you please.

Describing a party that has real, demostrated influence on government as “fringe” defeats the purpose of the word. You’d have to invent a new word for parties that actually have no influence. A fringe party should not be able to actually change the way the legislature votes, or else what’s fringe about them?