New Brunswick has a unicameral legislature with 55 seats. Elections are held at least every five years but may be called at any time by the Lieutenant Governor (the vice-regal representative) on consultation with the Premier. The Premier is the leader of the party that holds the most seats in the legislature.
The dynamics of New Brunswick politics are different from those of other provinces in Canada. The lack of a dominant urban centre in the province means that the government has to be responsive to issues affecting all areas of the province. In addition, the presence of a large francophone minority dictates that consensus politics is necessary, even when there is a majority government present. In this manner, the ebb and flow of New Brunswick provincial politics parallels the federal stage.
From 1867 to 1878, party labels were not in use for general elections. While party identification began to be employed in the 1882 general election, parties did not become formally organized until the 1917 election, and were not legally recognized until 1935.
On September 19, 2006, the Liberals won a majority with 29 out of 55 seats, making 38-year-old Shawn Graham the new Premier of New Brunswick on a platform called the Charter for Change, which pledged to focus on "the three Es": energy, education and the economy.