‘Albertans will be disappointed’ with two-party legislature: pollster
For the first time since 1993, representatives from only two of Alberta’s political parties will be heading to the legislature.
It’s only the fourth time this has happened in the province’s history.
In 1905 and 1913 the Liberals took power with the Progressive Conservatives in opposition, while in 1993 it was the PC’s forming a majority government with the Liberals in opposition.
When the legislature dissolved for Alberta’s 2019 general election, there was representation from five political parties: the NDP, United Conservative Party, the Alberta Party, the Alberta Liberal Party and the Freedom Conservative Party.
Jason Kenney and the UCP were elected to a majority government with 63 seats, and the NDP in opposition with 24.
“I think we’re going to see a two-party legislature for the foreseeable future,” former Wildrose Party leader and 770 CHQR host Danielle Smith said.
But this new layout in the legislature leaves a hole for those in the centre, pollster Janet Brown said.
The Alberta Party gained ground in the vote, garnering nine per cent of the vote, up from two per cent in 2015, but the party has no seats to show for their gain in the polls.
Global News reached out to the Alberta Party for comment on Wednesday, but party officials said they are not in a position to make a statement about what’s next and are busy cleaning up campaign signs.
Disappointment was felt at the Alberta Liberal Party headquarters in Calgary on Wednesday.
The party lost its only seat in the legislature in the riding of Calgary-Mountain View; a Liberal stronghold in Calgary since 2001, when Dr. David Swann, the former leader, won the seat.
“It’s going to be unfortunate there won’t be a moderate, forward-thinking, centre position in the legislature,” Liberal leader David Khan said.
According to Brown, some Albertans will be disappointed with the lack of an alternative party voice.
Brown, who did polling throughout the campaign, points to her data on how Albertans decided to vote, saying Albertans went to the polls and voted strategically, rather than for the party they wanted to win.
“There was a sense that if they voted for another party that didn’t have a chance of winning in their riding, they might inadvertently be helping a party they didn’t want to help,” Brown said. “But at the same time, a vast majority of voters do see themselves as centrist, so going forward I think a lot of Albertans will be disappointed.”
Alberta’s alternate parties became a topic of conversation on Danielle Smith’s radio show on 770 CHQR on Wednesday. Smith said she doesn’t believe there will be as much disappointment among centrist voters because of how the UCP and NDP campaigned in the election.
According to Smith, the Alberta Party and Liberal Party lacked a strong and motivated base to gain traction in the legislature.
She pointed to the NDP campaigning with backing from the province’s unions and expanding that base toward the centre. Meanwhile, the UCP had strong support from activists and the religious community, expanding their umbrella to the centre.
“I would say the centre is well covered,” Smith said. “A portion of it is in the NDP, and a portion of it is in the UCP and it doesn’t create a lot of room for a party without a seat to be able to get some of that territory.”
Alberta joins Saskatchewan as the only province or territory in the country with only two-party representation in the legislature.
Smith believes third parties have a place in the legislature if they can get a toehold politically, but typically lose credibility if they can’t gain momentum.
“I think when you have a third party, they’re not normally the mediator,” Smith said. “The third party in other jurisdictions… is actually the antagonist pushing things further and further to a more extreme position.”
Back at Liberal HQ, volunteers continue to clean up campaign signs and take down the office set up for the campaign, however, the party isn’t planning on folding up shop.
“It’s important to Alberta that there’s a real progressive choice, and a party with real leadership and real policies to make Albertans lives better,” Khan said. “We’re going to be that party in the future.”
Meanwhile, Premier-designate Kenney and his UCP cabinet will be sworn in on April 30. He said he plans to recall the legislature in the third week of May.
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