The results are in from Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province. After a hard-fought election campaign where both sides fought over issues like energy, healthcare, and taxes, voters opted to return the incumbent United Conservative Party (UCP) to a second straight majority in the Legislative Assembly, with the New Democratic Party (NDP) forming the opposition.
The UCP saw its popular vote advantage decline dramatically compared to the last election. In 2019, they won 54.9% of the vote compared to 32.7% for the NDP and 9.1% for the Alberta Party. In the 2023 Alberta election, they lead with 52.6% of the vote compared to 44% for the NDP; the Alberta Party completely imploded, receiving only 0.7% of the vote, trailing even the Green Party.
It’s worth noting that much of the NDP’s gains can be attributed to the near elimination of minor-party vote share. Minor parties and independents only received 3.4% of the vote in 2023, a sharp decline from the 12.4% they received in 2019. While the UCP only saw its raw vote share decline by 2.3%, the NDP’s vote share rose by 11.3%, absorbing virtually all of the Alberta Party’s votes. The NDP saw especially strong gains in Calgary, where they gained 20 percentage points from 2019.
62.4% of Alberta voters turned out in the 2023 election. Turnout was slightly down compared to 2019, when 67.5% of Albertan voters turned out.
The UCP won a majority of districts for the second straight election, carrying 49 seats compared to the NDP’s 38. This 11-seat majority is a sharp decline from the 39-seat majority the UCP won in the 2019 elections.
In the capital city of Edmonton, the NDP’s largest stronghold, the party swept all 20 seats, a gain of one from 2019. Additionally, they won a majority of districts (14/26) in Calgary, the province’s largest city and most crucial battleground. The was a major gain from 2019, when they carried only three districts in Calgary. The six closest districts in the city appear to have been decided by 851 combined votes, with the closest, Calgary-Acadia, swinging to the NDP by only seven votes. The UCP’s defeated MLAs include former cabinet members Jason Copping (Calgary-Varsity), Nicholas Milliken (Calgary-Currie) and Kaycee Madu (Edmonton-South West).
While the NDP made major gains in Calgary and Edmonton, they failed to break through in rural Alberta, where the UCP held their own. While the UCP only won 12 districts out of 46 in the province’s two largest cities, they lost only a single rural riding, Banff-Kananaskis, which narrowly flipped to the NDP. This seat, along with Lethbridge-West, Sherwood Park, and St. Albert, are the only four districts outside of Calgary and Edmonton that the NDP holds.
What the future holds
Premier-elect Danielle Smith declared victory, pledging to put personal attacks and partisanship behind and to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed energy regulations. NDP Leader Rachel Notley conceded defeat but will stay on as leader of the Official Opposition, a position she’s held since 2019.
Going forward, all eyes will be on how Smith handles her first full term as Premier. A controversial figure, Smith will have the task of rebuilding a cabinet, fighting the unpopular-in-Alberta Trudeau government, and holding off further urban NDP gains.