While the absolute majority is lost, Trudeau’s party remains the strongest in Ottawa’s parliament. Signs are pointing towards a minority government.
Canada’s election turned out to be the cliff-hanger it was advertised as. The Trudeau-led Liberals defended their position as governing party, receiving 33 per cent of the votes, a minus of 6.5 per cent compared to 2015. Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party received 34.4 per cent (+2.5).
In the traditional sense, Scheer is the election winner. However, Canada’s election system of majority voting will likely keep Trudeau in Office. In Mandates, his party beats his conservative opponent by 157 seats to 121.
Significant gains in votes were recorded by the regional Bloc Québécois, 7.7 per cent (+3) resulting in 32 seats, as well as the Green Party with 6.5 per cent (+3) and three seats. The New Democrats received 15.9 per cent (-3.8) and 24 seats.
The Liberals will continue to set the tone in parliament, however, not with the comfortable majority on which Trudeau could rely after his election victory in 2015. At that time, the Liberals had obtained 184 of the 338 seats in a landslide victory.
Trudeau’s losses did not come as a surprise. Many moments in which the progressive icon himself did not satisfy the lofty moral standards he had established for the country.
Trudeau’s loss of the absolute majority has not only been a statement by the Canadian people, but it will likely result in a minority government. In Canada, minority governments are quite common, while coalitions are uncommon.
While the last two elections have resulted in majorities – in 2015 for the Liberals, previously for the Conservatives – minority governments followed in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections. Every third election since 1921 led to such a constellation.
With the election results from Monday, the Canadian parliament gains additional power over Trudeau’s government. So far, the Liberals controlled all committees and thus their respective agendas. Times on The Hill are set to become very interesting for Trudeau.
Trudeau’s future government is likely to be solidified by the decline of the New Democrats and the starched Bloc Québécois. The New Democrats could even face a leadership crisis after a disappointing result. Hence, re-election would be the worst-case scenario for both parties. This circumstance is likely to be Trudeau’s advantage and could allow him to conduct his minority government with some support.
However, this support comes with a price: a further turn to the left. The New Democrats seek to invest a significant sum into climate-change measures. If Trudeau seeks their support, he will have to comply.
It is what will likely make or break the next government. A further left turn equals an all-in move by Trudeau, as it may not only increase fears in the Canadian financial market but likely fully alienates oil-rich provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan – places that already voted in favour of the Conservatives.
Nonetheless, Trudeau will seek redemption and reinvent himself as the uber-progressive, who won the 2015 election so decisively. Unfortunately, by doing so, Trudeau continues to transform into a phenomenon, he had been highly critical of in the past: a leader, who only serves his base and not the country.