List of British Columbia general elections

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Number of seats won by major parties at each election

Elections to the unicameral legislative body of the Canadian province of British Columbia, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, are held every four years.[1] The establishment of fixed four-year terms for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia was instituted in 2002,[2] after the Constitution (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act (SBC 2001 c.36) was passed in 2001.[3] The regular election date for the Legislative Assembly is set to occur on the "second Tuesday in May in the fourth calendar year following the general voting day for the most recently held general election",[3] with the next election scheduled for May 9, 2017.[1]

The number of seats has increased over time, from 25 for the first election in 1871, to the current 85.[4][5][6]

Every election from 1871 to 1986 elected a portion of its MLAs in multi-member constituencies, usually two-member constituencies. Voters in these districts had as many votes as there were seats (block-voting), and generally the party with the most supporters in the district filled all the seats, with no representation left for the others. This generally helped ensure the sitting government's capture of the most seats. (It also makes the "popular vote," the votes cast, not truly reflective of the sentiment of the voters, due to some voters casting two (or more votes) and others only one.)

Until the 1903 election, British Columbia politics were officially non-partisan – political parties were not part of the official process.[7] One of the first parties to be noticed in BC politics, the Nationalist Party espoused "National Socialism", based on Edward Bellamy's writings, and favoured nationalization of industry. Its candidate Robert Macpherson was elected MLA in 1894 and 1898. [8]

The general non-partisanship changed in the 1898 and 1900 elections with the official listing of party candidates, and federal political parties were recognized in the provincial election of 1903.[3] The first elections held along party lines (1903–41) were primarily contested by the Conservative Party (which won five elections during this period) and the Liberal Party (which won six elections).

For two sessions during and immediately after World War II, the legislature was managed by a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Social Credit Party dominated elections from 1952–86, winning eleven of the twelve elections (the single exception a NDP victory). Provincial politics since 1986 have been dominated by the New Democratic Party (NDP) which won both elections held in the 1990s, and by the Liberal Party, which won the 2001 provincial election and the next three elections.

A minority NDP government elected in 2017, supported by the Greens, is now in power in BC.

Absentee voting[edit]

Contemporary elections in British Columbia use a relatively unique system of handling absentee ballots.[9] While all jurisdictions in Canada allow for absentee voting through advance communication with the appropriate federal or provincial election agency, British Columbia is unique in allowing same-day absentee voting at any polling station in the province; ballots so cast are not counted locally on election night, however, but are sent to the voter's home riding and counted two weeks after election day.[9] One important effect of this is that a particularly close race, such as the nine-vote margin that initially separated the main candidates in Courtenay-Comox in the 2017 election, may not have a winner officially declared until the absentee ballots have been counted at the later date;[9] as well, because the absentee vote tends to favour the British Columbia New Democratic Party rather than the BC Liberal Party,[10] a district narrowly won by the Liberals has a higher chance of being flipped by absentee voters than a narrow NDP win does.[10]

The system exists both to serve commuters in the Greater Vancouver Area, where requiring people to vote at home frequently forced suburban districts to cope with sudden crowds of late voters at the end of the day, pushing past poll closing time and delaying the counting of the results in those areas, and because the province has a much higher than normal proportion of people who work away from home for long periods in remote natural resources sites.[10]

Summary of results[edit]

The table below shows the total number of seats won by the major political parties at each election since the recognition of political parties in British Columbia provincial elections in 1903.[5][6][11] The winning party's total is shown in bold.

Year
[5][6][11]
Seats
[4][5][6]
Win. Conservative Percentage Conservative Seats[A] Liberal Percentage Liberal Seats NDP Percentage NDP Seats[B] Social Credit Percentage Social Credit Seats Green Percentage Green Seats Independent Other Parties (with notes)
1903 42 CON 46.43% 22 37.78% 17 3 Labour (1); Socialist (2)
1907 42 CON 48.70% 26 37.15% 13 3 Socialist (3)
1909 42 CON 52.33% 38 33.21% 2 2 Socialist (2)
1912 42 CON 59.65% 39 25.37% 3 Independent Conservative (1); Social Democrat (1); Socialist (1)
1916 47 LIB 40.52% 9 50.00% 36 1 1 Independent Socialist
1920 47 LIB 31.20% 15 37.89% 25 3 4 Federated Labour (3); People's (1)
1924 48 LIB 29.45% 17 31.34% 23 8 Provincial (3); Canadian Labour (3); Ind. Liberal (2)
1928 48 CON 53.30% 35 40.04% 12 1 Labour (1)
1933 47 LIB 41.74% 34 31.53% 7 2 3 Non Partisan Independent Group (2), Unionist (1); Labour (1)
1937 48 LIB 28.60% 8 37.34% 31 28.57% 7 1 1 Labour (1)
1941 48 LIB 30.91% 12 32.94% 21 33.36% 14 1 Labour (1)
1945 48 COA[C] 37[D] (55.83%) 37.62% 10 1 Labour (1)
1949 48 COA[C] 39[D] (61.35%) 35.10% 7 1 1 Labour (1)
1952 48 SC 16.84% 4 23.46% 6 30.78% 18 27.20% 19 1 Labour (1)
1953 48 SC 5.60% 1 23.59% 4 30.85% 14 37.75% 28 1 Labour (1)
1956 52 SC 3.11% 21.77% 2 28.32% 10 45.84% 39 1 Labour (1)
1960 52 SC 6.72% 20.90% 4 32.73% 16 38.83% 32
1963 52 SC 11.27% 19.98% 5 27.80% 14 40.83% 33
1966 55 SC 0.18% 20.24% 6 33.62% 16 45.59% 33
1969 55 SC 0.11% 19.03% 5 33.92% 12 46.79% 38
1972 55 NDP 12.67% 2 16.40% 5 39.59% 38 31.16% 10
1975 55 SC 3.86% 1 7.24% 1 39.16% 18 49.25% 35
1979 57 SC 5.06% 0.47% 45.99% 26 48.23% 31
1983 57 SC 1.16% 2.69% 44.94% 22 49.76% 35 0.19%
1986 69 SC 0.73 % 6.74% 42.60% 22 49.32% 47 0.24%
1991 75 NDP 0.03% 33.25% 17 40.71% 51 24.05% 7 0.86%
1996 75 NDP 0.06% 41.82% 33 39.45% 39 0.40% 1.99% 3 Reform (2); Progressive Democrats (1)
2001 79 LIB 0.15% 57.62% 77 21.56% 2 0.12% 12.39%
2005 79 LIB 0.55% 45.80% 46 41.52% 33 0.03% 9.18%
2009 85 LIB 2.10% 45.82% 49 42.15% 35 8.21% 1
2013 85 LIB 4.76% 44.14% 49 39.71% 34 8.13% 1 1 1
2017 87 LIB[D] 0.53% 40.36% 43[E] 40.28% 41 0.05% 16.84% 3
Notes
A Includes results for the Progressive Conservatives from 1945
B Includes results for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation up until 1961
C Coalition between Progressive Conservative and Liberal parties.
D Hung Parliament: Liberal minority government until July 18, 2017; then New Democratic minority government with supply support from Greens.

Elections prior to provincial political parties[edit]

Year[12] Seats[4] Government Non-Government
1871 25 No information available
1875 25 8 17
1878 25 8 17
1882 25 5 20
1886 27 19 8
1890 33 17 16
1894 33 20 13
1898 38 18 20
1900 38 6 32

Prior the 1903 election, political parties in British Columbia were not officially recognized in provincial elections. During this period, some candidates declared their support for the administration as "Government" candidates, while those not in support ran as "Non-Government" or Independent candidates. However, these pre-election alignments often did not persist once the House was seated as allegiances would frequently shift.[7]

While there were no official party lines, there were unofficial yet unstable ones. Premiers Amor De Cosmos and Joseph Martin both sat, at various times, in the federal House of Commons as Liberals, while Premier Edward Gawler Prior sat in the House of Commons as a Conservative. There was also a clear grouping of members who would often sit in opposition to, or in the cabinet of, certain other premiers. De Cosmos and his unofficial Liberals mutually supported each other (i.e. were in each other's cabinets). These premiers included McCreight, Walkem, Bevean, Semlin, and Martin. Meanwhile, Premiers Prior, Dunsmuir, Turner, A.E.B. Davie, Robson, Theodore Davie, Smithe, and Elliot sat in each other's cabinets or otherwise supported one another; while premiers from one group often sat in opposition to premiers from the other.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "About Elections BC". Elections BC. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  2. ^ "B.C. Reg. 330/2002". The British Columbia Gazette, Part II. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: Queen's Printer. 45 (23). December 17, 2002. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  3. ^ a b c "Electoral History of BC". Elections BC. Office of the Legislature of British Columbia. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  4. ^ a b c "Electoral History of British Columbia 1871–1986" (pdf). Elections British Columbia. Victoria: Queen's Printer for British Columbia. 1988. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  5. ^ a b c d "Electoral History of British Columbia Supplement, 1987–2001" (pdf). Legislative Library, British Columbia. Victoria: Queen's Printer for British Columbia. 2002. pp. 5, 21, 37. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  6. ^ a b c d "Electoral History of British Columbia Supplement 2002–2013" (pdf). Elections BC and the Legislative Library of British Columbia. Victoria, B.C.: Elections BC and the Legislative Library of British Columbia. 2014. pp. 6, 20, 34. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  7. ^ a b "Electoral History of British Columbia 1871–1986" (pdf). Elections British Columbia. Victoria: Queen's Printer for British Columbia. 1988. p. 6. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of British Columbia, p. 486
  9. ^ a b c "Absentee voting explained: why B.C. election results won't be final until at least May 22". CBC News, May 10, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "Colby Cosh: B.C.’s election outcome is still uncertain. And it’s all thanks to their bizarrely generous voting system". National Post, May 12, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Electoral History of British Columbia 1871–1986" (pdf). Elections British Columbia. Victoria: Queen's Printer for British Columbia. 1988. pp. 91, 99, 109, 115, 123, 139, 149, 159, 173, 183, 193, 203, 213, 221, 243, 265, 275, 285, 293, 303, 311, 321, 331, 339 & 349. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  12. ^ "Electoral History of British Columbia 1871–1986" (pdf). Elections British Columbia. Victoria: Queen's Printer for British Columbia. 1988. pp. 9–90. Retrieved 2015-08-30.

Bibliography[edit]