Applause lines are those bits in a speech designed to get an audience cheering and clapping with approval that you see on the evening news. So what's the problem? Well, the NDP leadership candidates will be tempted to come up with an applause line that's also highly partisan and ideologically-oriented.
As the NDP looks to reinvent itself as Quebec's party, let's pause for a moment and consider what that actually means: advocacy for La Belle Province, modest flirtation with separatist positions, and bilingual frontrunners (both Mulcair and Topp speak French). And here is what it doesn't involve: a full court effort to outflank separatists.
Any time a leadership race becomes a contest of two heavyweights, there is the risk that each side and their supporters will drag out the vote to a bitter conclusion. That leaves room for the 'Stephane Dion' factor to come into play.
It doesn't matter who wins the crown in the next NDP leadership race, because they will be constantly compared to Layton. Potential leadership candidates will need to evaluate if it is better to jump in now or wait until there is a future leadership opening when they can be more fairly judged.