VICTORIA - Random notes from the confused day after the election.
First, there's a big political opportunity waiting for the party that acknowledges the public will and backs a switch to the single transferable vote system.
A majority of voters in 77 of the 79 ridings said 'yes' to STV, far beyond the required 60 per cent of ridings. Overall, 57 per cent of voters backed the change, just short of the 60-per-cent support threshold set by the government.
The threshold is not unreasonable.
But the referendum result is a clear indication of the public's desire to move to the new system, and the collective belief that it would deliver better, more democratic governments.
And it represents much more popular support than any political party has been able to win in B.C. for decades.
Both the NDP and the Liberals might like to ignore the referendum. Neither is keen on a change which reduces the power of parties and increases the chance that more independents and small party candidates would be elected.
But it would be wrong for them to ignore the will of the people, and foolish to ignore a great political opportunity to back something that has been proven popular with a majority of voters.
The leaders may recognize that. Gordon Campbell said STV isn't dead. "I think we should bring that to the legislature, to all members of the legislature and review where we may go from there, because there is clearly some hunger to see an improvement," he said. Carole James said she voted against STV, but backs an alternate form of proportional representation.
Campbell is on the right track. A caller to radio talk show suggested a simple, clean solution - bring the issue to the legislature, and allow a true free vote by MLAs. If they chose to represent their constituents, than 77 of them will vote yes, reflecting the referendum results. If they choose not to follow the wishes of the people who elected them, they can explain why.
Second, it is time for the Green Party to take a look at its future. Adriane Carr ran a focused, effective campaign in her riding, did well in both debates and got wide media coverage. But she still came third, with 26 per cent of the vote. (Victoria Green Ariel Lade offered himself up as a paper candidate in Peace River South halfway through the campaign, and never set foot in the riding. He got 9.4 per cent of the vote there.)
More significantly, despite four years in which to build, the Greens' share of the popular vote fell from 12 per cent to nine per cent. (Meaning they might be left out of the next leaders TV debate, as 10-per-cent support was one of the thresholds to be met.)
That still represents a lot of voters. But the Greens are mired on the fringe, farther from electing an MLA than they were four years ago. They need to make changes.
And finally, it's worth noting that the political divide between the Lower Mainland and the rest of the province is there, but less gaping than some had feared. The Liberals were strong in Vancouver and its affiliated sprawl, taking 27 seats to the NDP's 16. But they also prevailed in the rest of the province, 19 to 17.
It's a balanced outcome, one that means voters in every region can take concerns to MLAs from both sides of the house. If a government MLA is slow to act, there is an opposition representative available.
The Liberals' weaker showing in the region will likely mean new cabinet ministers. Bill Bennett, the only Liberal survivor in the Kootenays, will likely get a post. One of the MLAs from the Cariboo and the Bulkley Valley will likely replace the defeated Roger Harris as a regional cabinet representative.
Footnote: It's clear that Green voters could have delivered victory to the NDP or Liberals in 10 close races if they had changed their votes. But it's not at all clear which of the other two parties those voters might have moved to if they had opted to vote strategically. Green voters increasingly come from both sides of the political spectrum.