Justin Trudeau has won a second term as Canada’s prime minister after the country’s federal election, but his narrow victory means he will lead a minority government that will be forced to depend on other parties to govern.
The Liberals were leading or victorious in 146 out of 304 electoral districts that had reported results by about 10:30pm Toronto time on Monday, according to the national broadcaster CBC. Trudeau needed to win 170 seats to secure a second majority government.
“We seek hardship for none and prosperity for all, and if we unite around these common goals, I know we can achieve them,” Trudeau told cheering supporters in Montreal, saying that Canadians had sent a clear message of support for progressive policies.
Despite Trudeau’s attempt to strike a conciliatory tone, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer issued a stark warning to the Liberals. “Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be ready and we will win,” Scheer told supporters at his concession speech.
Donald Trump was quick to congratulate Trudeau for “a wonderful and hard fought victory.” Although the two leaders have not had a warm relationship – Trump described Trudeau as “dishonest” at last year’s disastrous G7 meeting in Quebec – the US president tweeted: “Canada is well served. I look forward to working with you toward the betterment of both of our countries!”
Four years after the photogenic Liberal leader swept to power promising “sunny ways” after nearly a decade of Conservative rule, Trudeau struggled to inspire voters as he campaigned for re-election.
Trudeau, 47, was endorsed by Barack Obama in the last days of the campaign, but his standing as one of the few remaining progressive leaders in a major democracy was undermined by the emergence of blackface images, and lingering criticism of his handling of a major corruption inquiry.
Ahead of the vote, polls showed him neck-and-neck with Scheer. But with neither of the main parties reaching the number of seats needed for a parliamentary majority, Canada is headed towards a minority government, and Trudeau will be forced to co-operate with smaller left-of-centre parties to govern.
“We’re seeing a much-needed chastening of the Liberal party,” said David Moscrop, a political scientist at the university of British Columbia. “Some of [the result] is a backlash against Liberal arrogance and entitlements. The Liberals set the bar so high they’re bound to run into it.”
In the final week of campaigning, Trudeau faced a strong challenge from the left-wing New Democratic party, led by Jagmeet Singh, which looked poised to peel away progressive votes from the Liberals.
But despite a surge in the polls in the final weeks of the campaign, the NDP was unable to convert that success into electoral wins. The party’s 44 seats were nearly cut in half.
The overall result laid bare the deep divisions in the country: not a single Liberal was elected in the western Prairie provinces, which the Conservatives swept.(The Guardian)