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Number of seats won by major parties at each election
  •   Conservative/PC
  •   Liberal
  •   CCF/NDP
  •   Social Credit
  •   United Farmers
  •   Labo(u)r
  •   Independent
  •   Other

The Canadian province of Alberta holds elections to its unicameral legislative body, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The maximum period between general elections of the assembly is five years,[1][2] but the Lieutenant Governor is able to call one at any time.[3] However, the Premier has typically asked the Lieutenant Governor to call the election in the fourth or fifth year after the preceding election. The number of seats has increased over time, from 25 for the first election in 1905, to the current 87.

Alberta's politics has historically been one of long-lasting governments with government changes being few and far between. The province from 1905 to 2015 was ruled by four "dynasties": the Liberal Party (1905–1921); the United Farmers of Alberta (1921–1935), the Social Credit Party (1935–1971), and the Progressive Conservative (PC) Association (1971–2015), the longest political dynasty in Canada. No minority government has ever been elected. Thus, Alberta can be said to have continuously had a dominant-party system for its entire political history, though the dominant party has changed over time.

In 2015, the NDP were elected to government for the first time in Alberta's history. The NDP had Alberta's only one term government thus far.

In 2019 the newly formed United Conservative Party formed the government.

Before 1924, most Alberta elections used a combination of single-member and multi-member districts, plurality being enough to be elected. From 1924 to 1955, Alberta used Ranked voting where a mixture of proportional representation (single transferable voting) and Instant-runoff voting was used. Since 1956, Alberta's elections have used single-member plurality also known as first past the post.[4]

Summary

The table below shows the total number of seats won by each political party in each election. Full details on any election are linked via the year of the election at the start of the row, and details for the legislature that followed the election are available at the legislature number.[5][6]

Year Seats Winner Legislature United Conservative Party Progressive Conservative[A] Liberal NDP[B] Social Credit United Farmers Dominion Labor Ind. Other parties Other parties Voter turnout[7][8]
1905 25 Liberal 1st 3 22
1909 41 Liberal 2nd 2 36 2 1 Socialist
1913 56[C] Liberal 3rd 17 38
1917 58 Liberal 4th 19 34 5 1 Labor Representation League 2 Alberta Non-Partisan League 2 non-partisan members elected by Soldiers and Nurses voting
1921 61 United Farmers 5th 15 38 4 4
1926 60 United Farmers 6th 4 7 43 5 1
1930 63 United Farmers 7th 6 11 39 4 3
1935 63 Social Credit 8th 2 5 56   81.8%
1940 57 Social Credit 9th 1 36 20 Independent Movement (19), Labour (1)
1944 60 Social Credit 10th 2 51 3 4 Navy, Army and Air Force reps. (overseas, non-partisan)(3); Veterans' and Active Force (Edmonton)(1)
1948 57 Social Credit 11th 2 2 51 2
1952 60 Social Credit 12th 2 3 1 53 1
1955 61 Social Credit 13th 3 15 2 37 3 1 Coalition
1959 65 Social Credit 14th 1 1 61 1 1 Coalition
1963 63 Social Credit 15th 2 60 1 Coalition
1967 65 Social Credit 16th 6 3 55 1
1971 75 PC 17th 49 1 25
1975 75 PC 18th 69 1 4 1   59.58%
1979 79 PC 19th 74 1 4   58.71%
1982 79 PC 20th 75 2 2   66.00%
1986 83 PC 21st 61 4 16 2 Representative 47.25%
1989 83 PC 22nd 59 8 16   53.60%
1993 83 PC 23rd 51 32   60.21%
1997 83 PC 24th 63 18 2   53.75%
2001 83 PC 25th 74 7 2   53.38%
2004 83 PC 26th 62 16 4 1 Alberta Alliance 45.12%
2008 83 PC 27th 72 9 2   40.59%
2012 87 PC 28th 61 5 4 17 Wildrose 56.96%
2015 87 NDP 29th 10 1 54 22 Wildrose (21), Alberta Party (1) 58.4%
2019 87 UCP 30th 63 24 64.0%

Notes

A Known as the Conservative Party prior to 1959.[5]
B Known as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) prior to 1963.[5]
C In 1913, 55 people occupied 56 seats.[5] C.W. Cross was elected in two different districts. [9]

Electoral system

Alberta has used a variety of electoral systems in its history, notably a combination of single transferable vote (STV) and instant-runoff voting (IRV) for nearly four decades.

Electoral system of Alberta
Elections Edmonton Calgary Medicine Hat Rest of Alberta
1905 First past the post
1909 Double-member plurality-at-large First past the post
1913 Double-member First past the post
1917 First past the post
1921 Five-member plurality-at-large Double-member First past the post
1926 Five-member single transferable vote Double-member single transferable vote Single-member instant-runoff voting
19301955 Multiple-member single transferable vote Single-member instant-runoff voting
1959–present First past the post

Alberta's first election was fought in 25 single-member first past the post districts. The Liberal government, like other Canadian jurisdictions at the time, introduced two-member constituencies in Edmonton and Calgary in 1909 to accommodate their population. Voting in these multi-member districts was by Block Voting.

Each was broken up into three single-member districts by 1917, as the overall number of districts increased rapidly. As well 1917 saw two other innovations - election of two MLAs by soldiers and nurses overseas; and automatic re-election of 11 MLAs who were serving in the armed forces.

The Liberal government introduced five-member block voting constituencies in Edmonton and Calgary in 1921, and briefly made Medicine Hat a two-member district. Each voter in the cities was given five votes,in Medicine Hat two votes. The Liberal party led the vote in Edmonton (although not taking a majority of the city vote) and its candidates received many multiple votes, together taking more votes than the number of Edmontonians who voted. It won all five of Edmonton's seats. The United Farmers won many rural seats and formed government.[10][11]

The UFA government, which had campaigned on a promise of electoral reform, retained the existing multi-seat districts and adopted single transferable vote in Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat. Instant-runoff voting (IRV) (AKA Alternative Voting) was put into use elsewhere. STV in Edmonton and Calgary produced mixed roughly proportional results in the election of city MLAs.[12]

IRV elsewhere had little impact as the UFA candidates were extremely popular, usually taking a majority of the vote. This would be the pattern for the next two decades with the governing party (UFA then Social Credit) taking a majority of the rural seats, and STV in the cities giving each party its proportion of the city seats. These parallel systems, STV in the cities and IRV in the rest of the province, were used for eight elections over three decades.

During these eight elections the only modifications made were that Albertans serving in armed fores in 1944 elected three armed force representatives, one for each branch - army, navy and air force; M.H. was changed to a single-member district prior to the 1930 election; and the number of MLAs sitting for Edmonton and Calgary changed over time.[13]

Until recently, the pattern has been for one party to take a majority of the seats outside the cities, usually by a majority of the vote in the first count. Due to the relative small number of seats in the cities, that ensured the party's ascendancy to power. The UFA did not, but the SC and Conservative governments usually took a fair number of city seats as well as most of the rural seats. In 1955, the SC government was re-elected with a great majority of the seats but for the first time IRV changed the outcome in four districts. In these districts a SC candidate led in the first count but did not take a majority of the vote and each lost out when votes were transferred as per IRV. [14]

Following this turn of events, Ernest Manning's Social Credit government abolished the mixed STV/IRV system, without public consultations or a referendum. The city-wide districts in Edmonton and Calgary were broken up and single-member districts were created, and the use of transferable votes was ended. The government reintroduced first past the post across the province. The SC government reaped a windfall of seats in the 1959 election.[15]

First past the post remains the system used in Alberta and throughout Canada for provincial and federal elections.[16]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Legislative Assembly Act". Queen's Printer. 1983. Section 3(1). Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Elections Alberta (2008). "Common Questions". Elections Alberta. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Office Consolidation (2000). "Election Act". Province of Alberta. Alberta Queen's Printer. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
    1.1.1.nn ""writ" means a writ of election issued by the Chief Electoral Officer pursuant to an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council."
    39.0 "Every election shall be commenced by the passing of an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council"
  4. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  5. ^ a b c d Elections Alberta (May 30, 2008). "Candidate Summary of Results (General Elections 1905–2004)". Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  6. ^ Elections Alberta (2008). "General Election Reports (1997–2008)". Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  7. ^ Election Alberta (July 28, 2008). 2008 General Report (PDF). p. 158. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  8. ^ Elections Alberta (November 25, 2007). "General Elections 1975-2004 (Overall Summary of Ballots Cast and % of Voter Turnout)". Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  9. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  10. ^ "The PC dynasty falls: Understanding Alberta's history of one-party rule". Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  11. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  12. ^ Barnes, André; Lithwick, Dara; Virgint, Erin (January 11, 2016). "Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview". Library of Parliament. Ottawa. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  13. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  14. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  15. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982
  16. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, 1905-1982