CANADA
Seat of government: Ottawa.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The parliament comprises the House of Commons, elected by plurality in geographical constituencies (ridings), which chooses the prime minister, and the Senate, chosen by the parliamentary governing faction by geographical formula and largely deferential to the House of Commons.
Governing party: Liberal Party.
Head of government: Justin Trudeau, prime minister (since 2015).
Other parliamentary parties: Conservative Party, led by Rona Ambrose; New Democratic Party, led by Tom Mulcair; Bloc/Parti Québécois, led by Mario Bealieu and Pierre Karl Péladeau; Green Party, led by Elizabeth May.
Assessment: Has done a good job of protecting civil liberties and providing social services. Still to resolve the issue of separatist aspirations in Québec, but will do so peacefully. Governments are generally formed by the plurality party alone. For their first two terms (starting in 2006), under prime minister Stephen Harper (2006-15), the Conservatives were a minority in parliament; in fact, they found themselves in the minority in parliament on most of their agenda, with the four major opposition parties all being social-democratic. Despite having pushed for a law that mandates fixed parliamentary cycles to prevent elections being called for governing-party advantage, Harper ignored that law and called an early election for his party’s advantage. That election, in 2008, saw the Conservatives again finish first but short of a majority. In 2008 December Harper asked governor-general Michaëlle Jean to suspend parliament to prevent a vote of no confidence; the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Québécois had agreed to replace the Conservatives with a Liberal-NDP coalition. Though Harper’s mandate was a mere 37.6% of the popular vote, he insisted that the parliamentary majority was behaving undemocratically. In a 2011 election, the Conservatives again secured a plurality of votes, but this time a majority of seats. Under then-leader Jack Layton (who died shortly after), the NDP became the second-largest party for the first time. A Liberal resurgence under Trudeau led to a majority in the 2015 general election.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 9.08 (8), full democracy.
Updated: 2016 March 29.
 

O.T. FORD