Voters in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador woke up to a minority government Friday morning, after the governing Liberals managed to hang on to half of the seats in the provincial legislature while the opposition Progressive Conservatives nearly doubled their seat count.
The Liberals led by Premier-designate Dwight Ball held on to 20 of the legislature’s 40 seats, Ches Crosbie’s Tories won 15.
With no incumbents in the race and candidates in just 14 ridings, the New Democrat Party (NDP) took three seats, including one for political rookie and party leader Alison Coffin.
Two Independent members were also elected.
Crosbie said he will be calling on the NDP and the two Independents to form a coalition to counter the Liberals.
“I am not conceding victory to the Liberals,” Crosbie told a room full of supporters and media after all votes were tallied.
“They will have to struggle for the next months and years to hang on to power.”
The Liberals, who had won a landslide majority in 2015, are one seat shy of the 21 needed for a majority, and the Tories don’t have enough seats to topple the government on their own.
The slim win for Ball, which created the first minority government in nearly 50 years, signals some voter dissatisfaction with his government in Canada’s youngest province. Newfoundland joined the Confederation in 1949, becoming Canada’s 10th province.
In a victory speech in Corner Brook late Thursday night, Ball spoke about the need for collaboration in the legislature while criticizing Crosbie afterwards for running “a very dirty campaign.”
“We have the opportunity to achieve so much when we work together,” Ball said. “The people of our province want to see hard work, they want to see partnerships, and they want to see humility.”
He emphasized the hard times the province went through during his first years in office and promised to stay humble in his second term.
While Coffin congratulated Ball on his “fine” campaign in her Thursday night speech, she said to applause that the premier had met a “formidable adversary” in her.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC News