Canada will be going to the polls on October 14th after Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, decided to go for an early election, less than three years after the Winter election in January 2006 that saw him elected as leader of a minority government.
I was living in Canada during much of that election campaign (it's hard to believe that it's nearly an election cycle ago!) , so will be keeping a close eye on what happens there over the next few weeks, mostly through the CPAC tv channel.
With a first past the post electoral system, it's very difficult for any one party to gain a working majority in Canada (155 of the 308 seats), mainly due to the solid vote for Quebec sovereignist party, the Bloc Quebecois.
Currently, the Conservatives have 127 seats, the Liberals have 98, Bloc have 48, the New Democratic Party (NDP) have 30 while there are a number of independents, one of whom (Blair Wilson) was elected as a Liberal but has defected to the Greens, whose recent polling has apparently been as high as the mid-teens.
With four parties standing across the entire country and the Bloc making it a five-party contest in Quebec, election night could be very messy in determining any widespread trends across Canada.
One more point, though: Harper is going to the polls supposedly for a mandate to lead a government through economic troubled times. How very different to Gordon Brown and his dithering last year when he could have had such a mandate himself.