Some traditional Liberal voters undoubtedly voted Conservative this time in order to prevent a government led by the NDP, which promised billions of dollars in new spending as well as billions in new taxes and revenues.
The Liberal party still wants to own the center of Canadian politics, but that ground has narrowed as the NDP have moved toward the center and so have the Conservatives.
Harper has occupied some of the center ground, pledging for example to oppose any restrictions on abortion, and also to increase already-pricey transfers to the provinces for public health care.
Monday’s combined Liberal-NDP vote was 49.5 percent, well above the 39.6 percent that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives received.
If all their voters had backed one merged party, Jack Layton would be prime minister today instead of Harper.
But it is not as simple as that.
The Liberals and New Democrats have decades of traditions and policies of their own, unlike the two right-wing parties — the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance — that merged in 2003 after a little more than a decade apart.
Vote-splitting on the right that helped hand the Liberals three majorities.
A unified center left seems like it will not work and the Conservatives should win majorities for a while barring self inflicted damage from bad leadership or corruption.
The Liberals and the Bloc clearly also need much more charismatic leadership and revamped policy platforms.