Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, the first major world leader to face voters since the global financial meltdown, led his Conservative party to victory in yesterday’s election but was forecast to fall short of a majority in parliament.
The Canadian election agency reported on its website that the Conservatives had won or was leading in races for 143 of parliament’s 308 seats, an improvement over the 127 seats the party had in the previous parliament.
But, based on results obtained directly from election officials, Canadian Broadcasting Corp predicted the Conservative Party would not win the 155 seats needed to govern on its own. That would force it to again rely on opposition support to pass budgets and legislation – as it has had to since a 2006 election victory.
Mr Harper had called elections early in hopes of getting his party a majority, but the Conservatives sought to put a good face on the results, pointing to their increased number of seats.
“Every other incumbent government in the Western world is in serious political trouble with the economic situation,” Conservative legislator Jason Kenney said. “Ours is probably the only one that could be re-elected – let alone with an increased mandate.”
The Liberal Party, long Canada’s top party, suffered a severe drubbing, dropping about two dozen seats from 95 in the previous parliament, according to the election agency. Bloc Quebecois led for about 50 seats, the New Democrats just under 40 and independent candidates 2.
Election figures gave the Conservatives about 37% of the total vote, the Liberals 27%, Bloc Quebecois 10%, New Democrats 18% and others 8%.
The party winning the most seats generally forms the government, with its leader becoming prime minister. The opposition parties could unite and topple Mr Harper if they won enough seats for a majority, but analysts said that was unlikely because the parties have no tradition of forming such coalitions.
Since becoming prime minister in 2006, Mr Harper extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan and pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol, which commits industrialised nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.