Yesterday’s British Columbia elections have served up the Canadian province’s first minority government in 65 years. In this edition of #Election News we bring you the winners and losers from what has been an historic election in the country’s west.
It’s all green, green, green on the west coast as Andrew Weaver’s BC Green Party trebled their presence in the legislative assembly. That’s right – they now boast a grand total of 3 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs). But the absolute figure isn’t the point here. The Green Party crucially holds the balance of power in the unicameral provincial legislature.
Strong pre-election polling numbers weren’t enough for John Horgan’s New Democratic Party (NDP) to regain government. Something the party hasn’t done since 1996. They did, however, manage to prevent Christy Clark’s incumbent Liberal party from winning an outright majority.
Results at a glance: British Columbia Elections 2017
- 87 seats in total
- 44 required to form government
- Liberals – 43 seats, 41% of the popular vote
- NDP – 41 seats, 40% of the popular vote
- Greens – 3 seats, 17% of the popular vote
Result: hung parliament
Weakened Liberal leader Christy Clark remained upbeat about the result as she addressed supporters in Vancouver. She reassured the crowd that “tonight we won the popular vote and we have also won the most seats.”
The NDP’s John Horgan adopted a more tentative tone regarding the election result: “British Columbians have waited 16 years for a government that works for them. I am going to have to ask you to wait a little bit longer until all the votes are counted and the final results of this election are known.”
What happens now?
At the center of it all is Greens leader Andrew Weaver who will now hold conversations with both major parties in order to settle on an agreement under which a government can be formed. Neither party can govern the province without the consent of the Green Party’s 3 MLAs.
Mr. Weaver has stated “I’ve spoken to both leaders. We’re going to have conversations.” Moreover, he highlighted patience as the order of the day: “we’re going to have to wait for the judicial reviews to be done. Nothing can be decided for the next two weeks until we actually know what [the outcome is]. But I will be meeting with Mr. Horgan shortly and I’ll be chatting with Ms. Clark as well because we believe we have a lot to offer and I’m looking forward to advancing those ideas at the B.C. legislature.”
Absentee ballots will also play a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the British Columbia elections. The seat of Courtenay-Comox was taken by the NDP with a majority of just 9 votes. Such a small margin will almost certainly trigger a recount. This puts absentee ballots firmly in the spotlight as they could award the Liberals the lone seat they need to form a majority government. However, in the absence of online voting in this election, counting absentee ballots won’t be completed until May 22-24.