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Speaking as someone who is neither a marketer nor an economist, I will venture that the Liberals' fundamental problem in this last election was one of strategic positioning, and it has been developing for the last 15 years. Most Liberals seem to describe theirs as a centre-left party; in theory they should appeal to a band of voters on both sides of the centre with the tail of the curve extending as far as the fringy left. Two problems: 1) The fringy left has been broadening lately. 2) In reading the how-do-we-save-the-Party articles it is clear that the Liberals do not truly see themselves as a centre left party but as a "progressive" (read left) party which seeks to appeal to the centre for strategic reasons. The problem with that is that voters have come to share that perception, with the result that the Liberal appeal is more and more limited to the left of centre. Pas d'ennemi à gauche also translates as pas d'ami à droit. The effect is that that the Liberal Party is now one hand clapping. Having ceded everything to the right of centre to the Conservatives, the party is now playing with only half the electoral deck, with the NDP claiming an ever larger share of that half. Neither Chretien nor Trudeau could have done much better than Ignatieff in such circumstances. The Liberal Party is not going anywhere until it puts the centre back in the centre left; ie, it moves to the right and starts mowing Stephen Harper's grass. The strange thing is that none of the liberal-friendly commentaries is advocating this; if anything the consensus is that the Party should charge harder to the left, to rediscover its true self as an advocate for minorities, etc. Good luck with that!
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May 9, 2011