Alberta Election Outcome: UCP retains control but with a difference

Alberta Premier Elect Danielle Smith

By Rob Houle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – On May 29, 2023, Albertans voted to stay the course following the provincial election. However, the course ahead may not be what Albertans were accustomed to prior to the election, and serious questions exist on how long the ruling party can maintain their thin majority. As well, the returning government will have to take a significant inventory of their elected members, and fill key roles once the legislature reconvenes.

Following tumultuous and combative campaigns, approximately 62% of Albertans participated in this election. This number is 5% lower than the previous election, reflects over 140,000 Albertans and may be part of the reason the Alberta New Democratic Party (ANDP) was unable to gain power this go around. In any event, there should be a full post-mortem done on the ANDP following their second straight defeat to the United Conservative Party (UCP) and Premier shrouded in controversy.

Once the dust had cleared late on election day, the ruling government retained power with the weakest majority since the legislature rose above 80 seats, securing just 49 electoral divisions. In comparison, Ralph Klein’s first victory as leader of the Conservatives was the previous low for a ruling party in Alberta (51 seats in 1993). What does this mean for Albertans? Well it creates a situation of uncertainty where any misstep by the UCP could result in party instability and a reality in which people are sent back to the polls before 2027. 

The risk of instability will only be increased given how different the incoming government will look in comparison to the previous. Six key Ministers will not be returning to form government, including the Deputy Premier Kacee Madu and the Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro. Although each wrestled with their own controversies before the election and throughout their term, they held key positions and would have provided some experience to incoming party members.

Providing a glimmer of light in the results is the election of 3 Indigenous candidates, including the lone Indigenous candidate running for the UCP, Scott Sinclair. Brooks Arcand-Paul and Jodi Calihoo-Stonehouse round out the total for the NDP, with both being elected on the island of Edmonton. While they provide some diversity in the faces that fill the legislature, whether their presence can manifest some change remains to be seen.

All in all, the election seemed to mirror what is taking place across the country, and North America to a degree. Communities continue to see rampant division and a troubling rise of populism and internet academics. Unchecked and unhinged theories seem to be gripping a growing portion of society, and the Premier of the province is part of their ranks. Whether these beliefs enter the decisions of government remains to be seen, or will Albertans keep them to a dull roar until the next election. 

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