Alberta’s most recent political party fundraising totals help paint a picture of our province’s political landscape.
When it comes to fundraising, Alberta’s two major parties outpaced other parties by hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Elections Alberta’s third quarter report.
The report shows the Alberta NDP raised $1,435,563.94 in the third quarter and the UCP raised $974,640.57.
Political scientist Feodor Snagovsky said these third-quarter fundraising figures show a sign of a healthy democracy, with a clearly established two-party system.
He referred to the Progressive Conservatives, who ruled for more than 40 years with little alternation of power until the NDP’s “thunderbolt orange” in 2015.
In a surprising twist, Rachel Notley’s NDP won a majority government in Alberta on May 4, 2015, ending the Progressive Conservatives’ 44-year reign.
“Now that we’ve moved to a two-party system, I think that’s a very good thing,” he explained.
“There are challenges to the ruling party not only from within, but actually two parties that could eventually form the government.”
Prolife Alberta took third place for fundraising in the third quarter with $51,126.94.
The group, which has never held a seat in the Alberta legislature, has raised more money than the Alberta Party and the Liberal Party combined.
Richard Durr, executive director of Prolife Alberta, said he believes his party’s fundraising total can be attributed to certain Albertans directing their money toward a specific set of values.
“There’s a two-party system, so to speak, and both sides neglect to address right-to-life issues and the beneficiary of that is our association,” Durr said.
Durr said it would be a “wait-and-see approach” if the party fielded candidates in the upcoming Alberta election.
Snagovsky said a party that has won fundraising dollars without a clear path for nominating candidates may mean a singular idea has resonated with a group of Albertans.
“There are different types of political parties. Some try to form a government and some try to pursue a particular ideology or political platform,” he explained.
Whereas people who might otherwise donate to the Liberal Party or the Alberta Party might be more interested in supporting a party that could actually form government,” he said.
“People who support abortion groups have no hope – they’re not sitting around thinking that this party will eventually form government.”
Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita said he hopes to help his party get more attention – and raise money – in the next election.
“If we were in the Legislative Assembly, you would have regular exposure…coverage [in the news]but in the end, you have to earn it.
Morishita said he expects growth to take some time.
“We haven’t had a breakthrough…it’s going to take a lot of effort to push us through.”
Snagovsky said he’s not sure we’ll see a three-way or four-way race, partly because of the first-past-the-post system.
“The party with the most votes wins, so it doesn’t leave much room for third parties to emerge as they end up splitting the vote,” he explained.
“That’s what happened with the PCs and the Wildrose Party and one of the reasons they eventually formed the UCP.”
“They’re vying for voters’ attention for sure,” he said.
“The reality is that political parties often don’t change their minds too much. They primarily compete over who can get voters to see their issues as most important.
Elections Alberta said the fourth quarter fundraiser will be released on January 31, 2022.
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