Canada just held its federal election, triggered by a political scandal concerning the conduct of the previous election, and it appears that the results have been disastrous for Canada’s opposition Liberal Party. In the past few weeks, the New Democrat Party, a left-populist party with socialist roots, surged into a strong second place, displacing the Liberals as the major nation-wide left-leaning party. In the reshuffle, the Conservative Party managed to win enough seats to hold a majority in the House of Commons, giving them a much stronger hold on the government, one that does not require the support of opposition parties.
An important point of note in Canadian elections is that MPs are chosen in much the same way as their counterparts in the UK House of Commons and Representatives in the United States House of Representatives: by single member district plurality. What this means is that even with only about 40% of the vote, the Conservative Party was able to secure a majority of the seats because votes only count toward district results.
While this was a spectacular loss for the Liberals, including the loss of their leader Michael Ignatieff’s seat to Conservative opponent Bernard Trottier, the political realignment also resulted in the toppling of Bloc Québécquois, the French-speaking secessionist party whose significant presence in the Canadian Parliament has permitted the presence of minority governments as no other party was willing to form a coalition with the Bloc. As of this posting, it appears that they will hold on to 3 of their current total of 49 seats.