With 40% of the vote in Monday’s election, Canadian Conservative Party has won a majority of seats and the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) became the official opposition. (photo, from radio-canada.ca)
Of the 308 electoral districts, Stephen Harper’s party won 167 seats, NDP took 102 and the Liberals claimed 34, Elections Canada reported.
Mr Harper, 52, went into the vote, Canada’s fourth general election in seven years, after having headed two successive minority Conservative governments since 2006.
According to analysts in the past five years the prime minister has slowly nudged Canada further to the right : he has lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided signing climate change legislation, become a stark advocate of Arctic sovereignty, increased military spending and extended the country’s military mission in Afghanistan.
“We are grateful, deeply honoured, in fact humbled by the decisive endorsement of so many Canadians,” Mr Harper told supporters on Monday in the city of Calgary in the country’s Alberta province.
He also said that with a majority government, Canadians “can now turn the page from uncertainties”.
Two leaders step down
Historically the Liberal Party has been the main party in opposition when the Conservatives have held power, but this election marks the first time the Liberals did not finish first or second.
The NDP has now taken over the role of the main opposition party.
“It’s tough to lose like this,” Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff said.
“Defeat is a teacher and now we have to learn the lesson of defeat and look at ourselves in the mirror,” he added.
But Mr Ignatieff lead the party to its worst result in its history and lost his Toronto-area seat in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
At a news conference he said he will “not remain leader of party” and “will arrange succession in due time.”
In the meantime in Toronto, a very happy Jack Layton greeted his supporters on Monday evening.
“Spring is here, my friends, and a new chapter begins,” NDP leader said.
Before the election the NDP had 37 seats, while the Liberals had 77 and the Conservatives 143.
After the election the NDP has 102 seats and the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois declined badly, analysts say.
The fourth party, the Bloc Quebecois seeks independence for Quebec, the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province. In the election the party retained only four seats out of the 47 it previously held.
Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, also announced he is quitting his position, after losing his seat of Laurier-Sainte-Marie and an NDP wave swept through the province, ending almost two decades of domination from the Bloc.
“Democracy has spoken, I respect this choice and I assume responsibility for it,” Mr Duceppe said.
But the Bloc is also going to lose its official status in the House of Commons because a party needs 12 seats in order to be recognized as an official party.
For the first time in the history of Canada the Green Party will have an elected deputy in the House of Commons : the leader of the party, Elizabeth May. She defeated cabinet minister Gary Lunn in Saanich-Gulf Islands.
In March, Mr Harper’s government was forced into an election after a no-confidence vote in parliament.