Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Crack in the Conservatives' Armor

Despite winning 61 of the Province's 84 seats, Alberta Conservatives are reeling this morning. Ralph Klein's government easily coasted to another majority, but the coronation did not go exactly as planned. For the first time in the Klein era the Conservatives have lost seats, dropping from seventy-four to sixty-one.

The Liberals made huge gains, jumping from seven seats to seventeen and even getting a foothold in Calgary. Klein's Conservatives formerly held a stranglehold over the province's biggest city, but the Liberals picked up three seats after being shut out in 2001.

"David Swann, a former medical officer of health who was fired for his pro-Kyoto stance, defeated Mark Hlady in Calgary-Mountain View; radio talk show host Dave Taylor beat Jon Lord in Calgary-Currie; and Harry Chase won in Calgary-Varsity, the seat held by retiring Energy Minister Murray Smith."
The Conservatives also dropped eight seats in tightly contested Edmonton. The opposition parties had focused their attention on the capital where Conservative support is weak. The NDP picked up four seats in the city, doubling their representatives in the legislature, while the Liberals won 40% of the vote in the city. Interestingly, the Alberta Alliance won only 5% of Edmonton' vote despite making huge in roads in the rural regions of the province.

The Alliance had been the great unknown of the election. Their only MLA was a convert from the Conservatives but they ran an aggressive campaign and many predicted they would do well. Leader Randy Thorsteinsen was soundly defeated, but the party won 9% of the popular vote -- nearly equaling the NDP. Thorsteinsen and the party are trying to build on their successes and move forward:

"We see where we're strong, see where we're weak, and we build a four-year plan."
In the end, the Kleinfeld campaign certainly hurt the Conservatives as they dropped thirteen seats and 15% in the popular vote. Kevin Taft's Liberals have emerged as a viable opposition and the Alberta Alliance has emerged as a viable party. Ralph Klein's final campaign was a boring one, but the stage is set for an exciting future in Alberta politics.


Blogger Caurus said...

Impressive result and a big step forward for the province. However, the fact that the conservatives get 70% of the seats with <50% of the vote is a sad sign for 'democracy'

9:06 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it's fair when the Liberals win like that nationally?

12:09 a.m.  

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