Just over half the population turned out to vote last week in the provincial election, and against the pollsters’ predictions, Christy Clark led the BC Liberals to their fourth straight majority government.
Clark didn’t, however, win her own seat. She lost her Vancouver-Point Grey riding to New Democrat David Eby by 785 votes on Tuesday night, marking the first time since 1924 that a B.C. politician has become premier without winning a seat.
While Clark can hold the title of premier without a seat, she can’t enter the legislature. It’s likely an MLA in a so-called “safe” Liberal riding will step aside to allow Clark to run in a byelection.
Despite the loss of her riding, voters handed Clark’s Liberals at least 50 seats. The New Democrats remain the Official Opposition with 32 seats, down three seats from the last provincial election, in 2009.
Locally, NDP newcomer Jennifer Rice won her North Coast riding with a healthy majority. This will be Rice’s first term in office.
The Liberal victory came as a shock to many, after polls showed the party trailing the NDP by as much as 20 points before the campaign began.
New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix says members of his party will spend the next little while soul searching following Tuesday night’s devastating loss.
As in previous years, voter turnout was low on Tuesday, with preliminary figures showing just 52 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, up slightly from 51 per cent in 2009.
The B.C. Liberals were first elected in 2001 when Gordon Campbell led the party to the largest majority government in provincial history, winning 77 of 79 seats.
On the May 14 election, the Liberals won 44.4 per cent of the popular vote and 50 Liberals were elected in the province’s 85 ridings.
Not only did Clark defy countless polls predicting her defeat, she increased her party’s majority in the legislature by five seats and became the first woman to be elected premier in a general election in B.C.
The NDP won 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, giving the party 33 seats in the legislature, three seats less than it held before the election.