After a 28-day campaign in which Christy Clark’s Liberal government sought a fifth consecutive mandate, it appears the electorate will have to wait up to 14 days longer to determine who will lead the province and whether that leadership will take the form of a minority, majority, or coalition government.
The uncertain future of the government stems from a very close race between the Liberals and the NDP and a historic surge in support for the Green Party.
As of midnight Wednesday, Clark and her Liberals had won a minority government, elected in 43 of B.C.’s 87 ridings, compared to 41 for the NDP and three for the Green Party. It takes 44 seats to form a majority government.
But those numbers could change. A very narrow vote spread in a number of ridings won by the NDP could conceivably result in a shift, granting the Liberals a slim majority in the legislature once absentee ballots are counted and a series of judicial recounts are initiated.
According to Michael Prince, a professor at the University of Victoria, the biggest story of the night might be the surge of support for the Green Party.
“The Greens doubled their support to a record 16 per cent of the electorate and managed to win three seats on Vancouver Island. That’s a historic win for them but it puts Green leader Andrew Weaver in a difficult position,” explained Prince.
Weaver has the option of keeping the Liberals in power while trying to influence policy on an issue-byissue basis, said Prince, noting that historically, a third party that keeps a governing party in power in a minority situation tends to pay the price in the next election.
Another consideration for voters in Victoria and Esquimalt lies in the fact that Esquimalt-Metchosin, Victoria-Swan Lake, and Victoria-Beacon Hill ridings all returned the incumbent NDP candidates to power.
Prince pointed out that the results mean the Township of Esquimalt will get its mayor back. Barb Desjardins, who took leave to run for the Liberals in the riding of Esquimalt-Metchosin, will return to her position as mayor, after being defeated by the NDP’s Mitzi Dean.
“The NDP sweep of the Victoria ridings can have an impact on those communities as a Liberal government will have to decide how much they are willing to work cooperatively and pay attention to issues in orange ridings,” said Prince.
“Clark and the Liberals had an Island platform that they touted during the campaign but, having lost those seats, the question is whether they’ll be held to those promises on issues like transportation and housing.Words are one thing. We’ll see if it translates into actions in ridings that are solidly NDP.”