Alberta general election, 1971
The Progressive Conservative Party, led by Peter Lougheed, broke the 36-year hegemony on Alberta politics of the Social Credit Party. Ernest C. Manning had resigned as Social Credit leader and premier in 1968, a year after leading the Socreds to their ninth consecutive majority government. His successor, Harry E. Strom, had been unable to revive what was seen as a tired regime; the party had been in government for almost two generations and was seen as old-fashioned, being first elected before oil was found in a big way in Alberta.
Lougheed, on the other hand, had significant momentum going into the 1971 election, increasing his caucus from the six members elected in 1967 to ten, after two floor crossings and two by-election wins (one of which was Manning's riding). The collapse of the other opposition parties made the PCs the only credible challenger to the Socreds. Lougheed, with 46% of the popular vote, won 49 of the 75 seats in the legislature and formed a strong majority government.
Ironically, Social Credit garnered a record number of votes in this election compared to previous elections, which had been plagued by low turn-outs. The Socreds lost only a small share of their popular vote from 1967 and finished only five points behind the Tories. However, they were decimated due to the near-total collapse of their support in the province's two largest cities, Edmonton and Calgary. The Tories won every seat in Edmonton and all but five in Calgary. Due to the quirk of the first past the post system, which rewards the largest party and parties with a strong regional block, the Socreds saw their caucus cut in half, to 25 seats.
The defeat sent Social Credit into headlong decline. While it managed to stay in the legislature until 1982, it has never again been a significant force in Alberta politics.
The Liberal Party was shut out of the legislature. It had had no momentum going into the election. One Liberal, Bill Dickie, had crossed the floor to the PCs. Another, William Switzer, died in 1969. The remaining Liberal, Michael Maccagno, resigned to make an unsuccessful bid for federal parliament.
Alberta New Democratic Party leader Grant Notley was the only NDPer to win election. He sat as the only New Democrat in the legislature until 1982. Interstingly enough, 41 years later Grant's daughter, Rachel Notley would lead the NDP to victory over the Progressive Conservative party, ending it's 41 year rule.
The PCs would remain in government without interruption from their 1971 victory until their defeat in 2015 at the hands of the Alberta New Democratic Party, making them the longest serving political dynasty in Canadian history. Thus, the 1971 election is considered to be a classic example of a realigning election.
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1967||Elected||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||75||6||49||+717%||296,934||46.40%||+20.40%|
|Social Credit||Harry E. Strom||75||55||25||-54.5%||262,953||41.10%||-3.5%|
|New Democrats||Grant Notley||70||-||1||73,038||11.42%||-4.56%|
|Source: Elections Alberta|
Daylight saving time plebiscite
Alberta voters also voted in a province-wide plebiscite whether or not to endorse a proposal to adopt daylight saving time (summer time). The proposal had been rejected by a very slim margin in 1967. This time however it passed with a wide margin of 61.37% of the vote.
|Do you favour province-wide daylight saving time?|
|386,846 61.47%||242,431 38.53%|
For break down of results see individual districts
For complete electoral history, see individual districts
- 1948 Electrification Plebiscite
- 1957 Liquor Plebiscite
- 1967 Daylight Saving Plebiscite
- List of Alberta political parties
- "Alberta PCs win historic 12th straight majority". CTV Calgary. April 23, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.