When we finished up with meet the parties, there was a short section on independent candidates. Someone commented (I know! I got my first commenter! I’m gonna be famous mom!) to ask some questions about these lone wolf candidates. This commenter chose to remain anonymous. No really, he literally put his name down as “anonymous” (real original dude, I’ve been remaining anonymous on the internet since LAST WEEK). But said I could call him Joe. I think we’re going to be friends. So, I thought I would take some time to elaborate on the subject of independent candidates – it’ll be the most press they get all election.
Independents are most well known for being crazy. Usually they have no chance of winning anything. But occasionally someone comes along who gains some support. Even when there is a bigger name candidate running as an independent, they usually don’t win. Why? Because independent candidates have to raise all of their own money.
The biggest reason for people to run under a party banner is that the party is able to raise funds and distribute them among their candidates. Money is the biggest factor in winning elections. So, why would anyone run as an independent then? Because then they aren’t beholden to anyone. Independents have complete freedom once they’re elected. In many cases their vote is quite powerful as the parties lobby for it when contentious votes come up.
In practice, independents that actually hold a seat are usually people who were elected under a party banner and then either left that party or were kicked out. There are hilariously bad examples of this, and noble examples of this. Fun fact: The Northwest Territories and Nunavut don’t have political parties. They govern by something called consensus government. Technically everyone is an independent.
Mr. Joe Anonymous brought up the fact that an independent has no chance of becoming Premier or earning a cabinet post. That is mostly true in practice, but isn’t a hard rule. As I pointed out in my reply to him, the current AB Party leader (remember him?) was actually health minister before he even had a seat in the legislature. It’s also worth reminding everyone that we don’t directly elect the Premier or Prime Minister, the people we elect do that (that’s also true in the US).
So, if you see a lawn sign with a name on it, but no party, then that person is most likely running as an independent candidate. Which means that they will lose. Badly.