Alberta’s election was billed early as a tight race, with polls in the election period showing single-digit differences in support between the two main parties: the Alberta NDP and United Conservative Party.
It wasn’t until election night on Monday that Albertans found out just how close.
Here are some key numbers from Elections Alberta’s unofficial results:
Of 87 seats…
Independent (expected): 1
The United Conservatives will form a majority government, but will have 14 fewer MLAs than after the 2019 election, seats that all went to the New Democrats in 2023. Eleven of those new NDP seats are in Calgary.
With Lacombe-Ponoka’s Jennifer Johnson expected to sit as an independent at the start of the next legislative session due to comments made at a September 2022 debate on public school and homeschooling comparing transgender kids to feces in cookie batter, the 10-seat spread will be the narrowest majority of any Alberta government.
In 1917, the Liberal party sat with 15 more seats in the 56-seat legislature. The next-closest majority was in 1955 when the Social Credit party had 18 more seats than Liberal party.
The NDP will also form the largest Official Opposition in Alberta’s history, beating the previous record set by the Alberta Liberal Party’s 32 MLAs in 1993.
The popular vote
The unofficial turnout was 62.4 per cent, down from nearly 70 per cent in 2019. In total, 1,763,441 valid votes were cast – 52.9 per cent on election day, 42.9 per cent in advance voting, 2.9 per cent by special ballot and the rest by mobile voting.
“With the unofficial count, our voter turnout was about 62 per cent, so slightly less than the last election, but still a strong turnout,” Robyn Bell, spokesperson for Elections Alberta, said. She noted turnouts have ranged from 40 to 80 per cent.
The United Conservatives also won the popular vote – the total count of all votes in the province – with 52.6 per cent, down 2.3 per cent from 2019. The NDP increased its share of the popular vote this year to 44 per cent, up 11.3 per cent from the last election and up 3.4 per cent from 2015 – an all-time party record.
No other party registered a single percentage point in 2023.
The votes within the three main electoral regions played out mostly as expected. Outside of Edmonton and Calgary city limits, 63.4 per cent voted for the UCP and 32.3 per cent for the NDP. Within Edmonton city limits, 62.7 per cent voted New Democrat, 34.6 per cent United Conservative.
But within Calgary, the NDP edged out the UCP, 49.3 to 48.2 per cent.
The widest lead in any one electoral district was in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, when Nathan Cooper was re-elected as UCP MLA with 13,619, or 74.3 per cent, of votes. Cooper served as speaker in the previous term. The next largest UCP lead belonged to Garth Rowswell in Vermillion-Lloydminster-Wainwright with 71.3 per cent of the unofficial vote.
UCP Leader Danielle Smith garnered two-thirds of the vote in Brooks-Medicine Hat.
The widest margin of victory for an NDP candidate was in Edmonton-Strathcona, where NDP leader Rachel Notley received 79.7 per cent of the vote. Marlin Schmidt in Edmonton-Gold Bar had the second-largest NDP win in a riding, garnering 69.4 per cent of votes.
The closest races were in Calgary-Acadia and Calgary-Glenmore, considered “bellweather” ridings within the city, both going orange. In Calgary-Acadia, NDP Diana Batten came out with just seven more votes than Tyler Shandro. And in Calgary-Glenmore, Nagwan Al-Guneid had 30 more votes than UCP incumbent Whitney Issik.
With fewer than 100 votes between the contenders, both of those ridings will get automatic recounts.
Five races were within 200 votes or one per cent, including those above and:
- Calgary-North, going to UCP’s Yaseen Muhammed by 113
- Calgary-North West, going to Rajan Sawhney by 149
- and Banff-Kananaskis, going to Sarah Elmeligi of the NDP by 199.
It looks like six UCP candidates who were ministers going into the election period will not be returning: Jason Copping, Jason Luan, Kaycee Madu, Nicholas Milliken, Jeremy Nixon and Tyler Shandro. Miranda Rosin, who was a parliamentary secretary at the start of May, lost her race in Banff-Kananaskis.
“There are some good people that won’t be back,” Smith told Shaye Ganam on Corus Radio Tuesday.
More women, racialized representatives
Two historic firsts were made in the Alberta election Monday: a Black woman and an Indigenous woman will join the Legislative Assembly.
Equal Voice, an organization that promotes women’s representation in Canadian politics, reported that the number of Alberta women MLAs has increased to an all-time high of 36.7 per cent, up from 31 per cent in 2019.
“The NDP caucus has set an inspiring example, with women comprising an exceptional 55% of their elected members,” Equal Voice said in a statement.
Elections Alberta expects to certify the results on June 8, and applications for judicial recounts can be filed up to eight days later.
Both the UCP and NDP did not comment when Global News asked about the possibility of judicial recounts.
–with files from Paula Tran and Adam MacVicar, Global News, and Stephanie Swensrude, 630 CHED.