After five weeks of campaigning, all that’s left is for Manitoba voters to choose which party to represent them.
Manitoba voters will decide the future of their province today, with NDP leader Greg Selinger, PC leader Brian Pallister, and Liberal leader Rana Bokhari each seeking to make history.
Polls close at 8 p.m. local time and results will begin to pour in soon after. Here are five of the stories we’ll be keeping a close eye on:
1. The end of the NDP era?
For 17 years, the NDP has held power in Manitoba, winning four consecutive majorities – their longest stretch of power ever in the province. But the party has suffered in the polls ever since premier Greg Selinger announced an increase to the provincial sales tax in 2013.
With 57 electoral districts in Manitoba, the NDP will need to win 29 ridings in order to guarantee a second full term for Selinger.
2. Battleground Winnipeg?
The electoral map of Manitoba has been fairly stable over the last two decades: the NDP forms government by winning the vast majority of Winnipeg’s 31 seats, with the Progressive Conservatives only competitive in the city’s western and southern suburb seats.
But if the polls are to be believed, that could come to an end tonight. The final survey by Mainstreet suggested the Progressive Conservatives enjoy 41 per cent support in Winnipeg, compared to just 25 per cent for the NDP. The vast majority of Global News’ ridings to watch tonight come from Winnipeg, and if poll numbers are accurate, longtime NDP strongholds on the city’s east side (Riel, Radisson, Rossmere, and others) could be in trouble.
3. A Liberal resurgence?
The Liberal Party hasn’t won more than three seats in a general election since 1990, but the party had hopes of a resurgence this time around with new leader Rana Bokhari. They were consistently receiving the support of over 20 per cent of voters in polls earlier this year, but slumped to 11 per cent of decided voters in Mainstreet’s final poll.
However, if that support is concentrated in urban Winnipeg ridings, it still could result in several seats. Aside from Bokhari, former leader Jon Gerrard seeks re-election in River Heights, and Cindy Lamoureux, daughter of Winnipeg MP and former Inkster MLA Kevin, seeks election in Burrows. And the party could also pick up a seat in northern Manitoba, where former city councilor Leslie Beck is hoping to pick up Flin Flon, which could be a tight four-way race.
4. A historic blowout?
Elections in Manitoba are historically close affairs, with no party receiving over 50 per cent of the votes or 70 per cent of the seats in any election since 1915, when Tobias Norris and the Liberal Party defeated the ruling Conservatives in a landslide victory.
But with the Progressive Conservatives at 55 per cent in the final Mainstreet poll, there’s a chance of a huge blowout victory for Pallister. Not only that, but it would put ridings the NDP has held for over 45 years – including Brandon East, Interlake, and Kildonan – in play.
READ MORE: Advance voting numbers up in Manitoba
5. A Green Party breakthrough?
The Green Party broke through with first-ever provincial election wins in 2013 (Andrew Weaver in British Columbia), 2014 (David Coon in New Brunswick) and 2015 (Peter Bevan-Baker in Prince Edward Island). Could it happen in Manitoba in 2016?
If it does, look for it to happen in Wolseley, where the Green Party has finished second the last three provincial elections. David Nicarz is their candidate this time around, and if enough traditional NDP voters decide to cast their ballot with the Green Party instead, the riding could be in play.