The most likely outcome of the January 23 federal general election in Canada appears to be another minority government, most likely again by the Liberal party.
A poll from November 29 says only 31% of Canadians think a minority government is preferable to a majority government. Yet they are so divided over party preferences that they are not going to get a majority government (unless one of the parties rises in popular preference dramatically during the campaign).
In the poll, 47% say they would like to see the Liberals out, yet a similar percentage prefers the Liberals to the Conservatives.
The poll shows the Liberals on 35% and the Conservatives on 30%. The NDP is on 20%, which would be a huge increase if they can hold it (they won 15.7% in 2004). Given the systematic punishment a first-past-the-post electoral system metes out to a third party that has dispersed support, 20% for the NDP seems unlikely. However, there are districts where they ran second place in the last election and where a vote for them would thus not necessarily be wasted. They could gain, especially in several ridings in British Columbia. To the extent that they do, it will only make whichever party comes out with the most seats even shorter of a majority. The NDP could be in an excellent position to bargain with the Liberals, including getting some real movement on electoral reform, which would at least ensure that minority single-party or majority-coalition governments in the future would be based on parties having a bargaining weight reflective of their actual voter support.
The Bloc Quebecois is on 14% in the poll, which is about where it was in 2004 (and 1993 when it wound up as the official Opposition). Of course, it is a strictly Quebec phenomenon, so its concentration of votes in one province nets it a much greater seat return on its votes.