Cabinet shuffle indicates early election on P.E.I., says political scientist
UPEI political scientist, Don Desserud, has said that Islanders should start expecting an early election—even as early as this fall.
"This is what all the signs are pointing for," Desserud told CBC on Thursday, Jan. 11.
"I don't think that the government has decided they're going to go to an early election, but I think they're getting ready to make sure if the stars line up correctly that they can go, and be ready, and go very, very quickly. And by very, very quickly I mean as early as this fall."
Though there's an election currently scheduled for Oct. 7, 2019, there's lots of speculation that due to it coinciding with a federal election—just two weeks later—it could be shifted.
Desserud said it found the timing of Premier Wade MacLauchlan's announcement of a cabinet shuffle on Jan. 10, "particularly interesting". He also believes that the P.E.I. Liberals are gearing up to go earlier.
Resignations by Allen Roach and Alan MacIsaac—who announced they would not be reoffering in the next election—caused significant moves in the shuffling.
"Why announce this now? The idea is that you're not going to run in a year and a half. That's a long time away … They want to have a new team in place,"said Desserud.
Since 1986, provincial government have never served for more than three terms—with the Liberals in 1978, the only exception to that rule in the previous 20 years.
Currently, the Liberals are in their third term and Desserud remarked that out of the current cabinet ministers, only two served under Robert Ghiz—who was premier in the Liberals' first two terms.
"They say, 'I know that people want a change. That's normal … We're the new government.' That's what the Liberals are saying," said Desserud.
The next election's schedule would be dependent on season, as no government wants a winner election when campaigning is difficult, or summer, when politics causes disinterest.
"Spring elections are volatile. Weather is volatile, people can be grumpy after a winter," Desserud said.
"They don't blame the government for the weather but they often take out their frustrations on the government."
An election scheduled for this fall—just three-and-a-half years into the mandate—seems possible, though Desserud noted that despite the traditional challenges associated with spring elections, it still seems more likely.