Big 'pysanka' on the line for leaders in debate
Published Thursday, April 12, 2012 6:52PM MDT
There's no doubt the election race so far has been tight, but one Edmonton expert believes Thursday's televised leaders debate could decide whether a portion of supporters for the parties in the lead, will continue to stand behind the leaders, or switch sides.
Albertans have not seen a race this close in nearly two decades, when the Liberal Party nearly beat the Conservative Government in 1993 – now Danielle Smith's Wildrose Party is threatening Progressive Conservative power.
Recent polls show support for the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservative parties is close, and Edmonton-based political scientist Jim Lightbody believes the performance of the leaders of both parties in the debate could be a deciding factor when Albertans head to the polls.
"This is the big pysanka," Lightbody said. "This is the one opportunity Danielle Smith and Alison Redford have of directly communicating with you and I."
Lightbody said the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties each have about 40 percent support, and that more than half of those supporting each camp are firmly behind their chosen party.
However, he believes remaining voters on both sides could swing the other way.
On the other side, Political Analyst Rod Love said the leaders should be judged in three areas: how well they present their platforms, how well they critique their opponents, and how they handle curve ball questions.
"There's going to be a surprise question, or something, and you can't appear flustered or unsure of what to do," Love said.
For the leaders of the two parties at the front of the pack, Lightbody believes PC Leader Alison Redford will need to show she can renew the party that has held power in Alberta for four decades, while Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith needs to show she can lead Alberta in a new direction.
With files from Jessica Earle