Thursday, May 7, 2015

Polls had it right this time as NDP crushes PC's in Alberta

The CBC decision desk has declared a New Democratic Party (NDP) majority government with the Wild Rose party the official opposition.
The polls this time were right and Albertans doubts about whether the NDP would really win over the Progressive Conservatives were quite wrong. The New Democratic Party led by Rachel Notley won a convincing victory over the Conservatives with almost 40 percent of the popular vote so far. The NDP was winning or elected in 55 seats and the Wild Rose party to be the official opposition in 19 while the Progressive Conservatives held only nine seats as I write this about 11 p.m. Central Time. The NDP had just four seats at dissolution. While the NDP were expected to do well in Edmonton, they also broke through dramatically in the business centre of the oil patch, Calgary. They also did well in smaller cities such as Lethbridge. There are still many seats in which winners have not been declared but the final figures will probably not be too much different than those at present. The NDP has never won an Alberta election before or even come close to winning. A party must win 44 seats to have a majority. The best showing ever before for the NDP was in 1986 when it had a mere 16 seats.
The relatively new PC party leader Jim Prentice, made a number of serious errors. Instead of waiting until the fixed date for an election a year from now, he called an election on April 7. The PC's held 70 out of the 87 seats in the legislature so perhaps he thought he could hardly lose. His team had managed to get nine members of the opposition Wild Rose Party to cross the floor including the leader. This upset some of the progressives in the PCs. Rather than causing the demise of the Wild Rose Party it simply made supporters even more determined to defeat the PCs. They did not do that but they will become the official opposition. There was obviously no move to unite the right by voting for the Conservatives and as a result the surging NDP was able to end a 44-year-old dynasty of PC rule in Alberta.
As with many other Albertans Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi did not believe the NDP would win until he saw the numbers coming up on the TV screen and saw them leading or elected in over a dozen Calgary ridings. The NDP had not won a seat in the city since 1993. Alberta Federation of Labour president, Gil McGowan, said: “This is not going to be a union government. It’s not going to be a business government, It’s going to be a people’s government because people from all walks of life and all regions of the province voted overwhelmingly for this party.”Harold Jansen, a political science professor at the University of Lethbridge along with many others gave credit to NDP leader Rachel Notley for running an almost flawless campaign that tapped into Albertans' feeling that the PC party was too much aligned with corporate interests. Given the economic situation in Alberta Notley will probably be cautious and not take any radical steps that would alienate the oil industry or other business interests.

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