December 5th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
These are fascinating times for Canadian political junkies. Our minority Conservative Party government, re-elected just under two months ago, faces the possibility of being replaced by a coalition of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP), supported by the Bloc Québécois.
Hoping to avoid such a fate (at least without an election) the Prime Minister has asked, and the Governor General has agreed, to prorogue Parliament. (Prorogation is like a parliamentary time out. Everyone goes to a corner and thinks about what they've done.)
So what are Canadians searching for in this time of upheaval?
Not surprisingly, there's been a massive increase in searches for "prorogue."
Until this month there's been almost no interest in prorogation — which is typically parliamentary esoterica rather than front page news. And not surprisingly, searches for "coalition," "coalition government," "ndp coalition," and "canadian government" have also spiked.
In fact, according to our Insights for Search tool, since last Friday, when serious rumors of a coalition coalesced, to this Tuesday, the day after the Liberals and NDP signed their coalition agreement, searches for "coalition" are up more than sevenfold:
Similarly, searches for "king-byng" (a 1926 constitutional crisis, somewhat reminiscent of the current situation) are up 100 fold since September:
How about the party leaders themselves? It appears that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the most searched-for political leader in Canada:
However, the data also suggests we may not be as bilingual as we think. Many Canadians are misspelling the name of our Liberal leader and Harper's chief rival, Stéphane Dion, searching for "Stephen Dion" instead. Quel dommage!