The left-populist anger that the NDP channelled helped them draw together 600,000+ voters, permanently vanquishing all the other progressive parties. I agree that the landscape was different in 2019 and 2023, and the same strategy wouldn't have worked. I still think opposition parties need to stand for something. Look at how the federal Liberals won power in 2015, by moving well to the left of the NDP, promising deficit spending, legal pot, and electoral reform. People felt excited to vote for Trudeau. No one gave a damn about Mulcair. And it was the Reform Party and the Wildrose Party that have buried the old federal and provincial PCs. Why? Because they have a passionate grassroots movement behind them, whereas the PCs stood for nothing in particular.I agree people in Alberta don’t really go for centrist parties but they would vote in a right of centre party over and over. Sadly, we even managed to vote in a group of far right nut jobs.
I disagree about the NDP in 2015. They only won because of vote splitting on the right. They had 40% of the popular vote, less than what had this election. And raising corporate taxes didn’t help them win it helped them lose the next election.. They went down to 32% of the popular vote next election.
The PCs were pretty centrist for 44 years, and were replaced by the centrist NDP when the centrist party responded to a recession with auesterity. The UCP changed the bargain, assuming centrists were the issue, not the further right in building a winning coalition.
Smith took this further, redefining what being a conservative meant (normal populist stuff)and that winning with fewer seats if they could govern more conservatively was a good thing.
Centrism is a strategy that is more available to governing parties, not by generating a huge groundswell of support, but by keeping their opposition divided. The Alberta PC party very frequently won with less than 50% of the vote, and the Federal Liberals and Tories have only ever won with less than 50% (save 1984). Arguably governing parties cannot really campaign as anything other than centrists, since they are, by definition, the establishment.