OTTAWA, April 27 Canada's election on May 2
could produce anything from a Conservative majority government
to one led by the New Democratic Party, a left-leaning party
that has never held power at the federal level.
Recent opinion polls vary greatly, showing support for the
Conservatives anywhere between 34 and 43 percent. The NDP have
overtaken the opposition Liberals in the most recent polls,
with poll numbers between 24 and 30 percent, while support for
the Liberals has sagged to between 21 and 26 percent.
At the dissolution of Parliament, the Conservatives had 143
seats, compared with 77 for the Liberals, 47 for the separatist
Bloc Quebecois, 36 for the New Democrats and two independents.
Three seats were vacant.
The Conservatives won with 37.6 percent of the vote in
2008, the Liberals took 26.2 percent and the NDP 18.2 percent.
Here are some of the possible outcomes of the May 2
election, in which the Conservatives want to transform their
minority government into a majority one, and the other parties
want to stop them.
CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
The Conservatives need to win an additional 12 seats to get
a majority that could govern without needing support from other
parties. Normally a party needs support of around 40 percent of
the electorate to win a majority, but if the left-of-center
vote is split between other parties, they could win a majority
with a smaller share of the vote than that.
Likelihood: possible, if the NDP surge splits the left-of
CONSERVATIVE MINORITY GOVERNMENT
If the Conservatives win more seats than any other party,
they will get the first chance of forming a government, but may
have to make concessions to win support from at least one other
party and stay in power as a minority government. The party has
so far pledged to reintroduce the budget it presented in March
before the government fell. All the opposition parties had
promised to vote against that budget, so an identical document
is unlikely to pass. But all bets are off if the Conservatives
are only a few seats from a majority, as the opposition might
not dare unite to bring them down for fear of a public outcry.
Likelihood: possible, but it's unclear if it would be
POSSIBLE NEW ELECTION
If the opposition brings a new Conservative minority
government down at the first opportunity, Harper has said he
will seek a new election. But that decision would be up to
Governor General David Johnston, and many constitutional
scholars say he would probably first ask another parties to try
to form a government before calling what would be Canada's
fifth election in seven years.
Likelihood: very unlikely
NDP-LED MINORITY GOVERNMENT
If the Conservatives can't form a successful minority
government, Johnston would turn to the party with the second
highest number of seats to see if it could form a government.
Under current poll numbers that could be the NDP, so Canada's
new prime minister would be Jack Layton, a man who has come
from behind to capture the imagination of a good section of the
population. He would need support from other parties, probably
the Liberals and possibly also from the separatist Bloc
Quebecois to stay in power.
Likelihood: possible, provided support for the NDP stays
LIBERAL-LED MINORITY GOVERNMENT
If the Liberals end up with more seats than the NDP,
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff could be given the chance to
form a minority government. He would also need support from
other parties to stay in power.
Likelihood: unlikely, given current poll numbers
NDP MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
It's still a long-shot option, but if the Liberal vote
collapses completely, and support for the Conservatives also
sags badly, the NDP has a remote chance of getting more than
154 seats, handing them a majority in Parliament.
Likelihood: very unlikely
(Reporting by Randall Palmer and Janet Guttsman; editing by