Come what may in the next couple of days, this might be the longest provincial election campaign in some time – opposition party candidates have been at it for months.
It’s been highly speculated since before the announcement of the 2013-14 budget in the spring. As for the official start, anticipation is heating up with the government planning to release a fiscal update next week, a likely precursor to dropping the writ.
Observers invariably muse on what the sitting government might see as an opportune time to make the call – be it sitting atop the polls, or getting finances in order. For months now, pollsters have told us the NDP are lagging.
As for the budget, the $16.4 million surplus forecast in the spring for the current fiscal year is relatively slim. But finding fault there would be a stretch, given the continuing lagging economy and the fact that the federal government and most other provinces expect not to achieve balance for another couple of years. An opposition that claims it could have done better should face tough questions about how.
On that note, the fiscal update will mark an opportunity for Nova Scotians to see whether this current government is on target to achieve the surplus they forecast, and whether they seem to be managing money well.
If and when the election is called, the NDP will have a challenge typically faced by a governing party. When a new one is elected, there’s a swell of optimism that the fresh government will set everything right. Then the reality of governing sets in, with the economic challenges and setbacks – and the honeymoon glow wears off.
That said, with three mainstream parties in this province, we couldn’t point to one as having consistently done a stellar job, without the usual pitfalls of governing. Typically, governments are voted out, rather than in, with hopes pinned on a set of fresh faces.
It’s a cynical pattern, to be sure. Marking that X should be preceded with honest reflection.