The 2019 Alberta general election was held on April 16, 2019, to elect 87 members to the 30th Alberta Legislature. In its first general election contest, the Jason Kenney-led United Conservative Party (UCP) won 54.88% of the popular vote and 63 seats, defeating incumbent Premier Rachel Notley. The governing Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) were reduced to 24 seats and formed the Official Opposition. The United Conservative Party was formed in 2017 from a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party after the NDP's victory in the 2015 election ended nearly 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule.
The NDP won 24 seats in total: including all but one of the seats in Edmonton (19), three seats in Calgary (Calgary-Buffalo, Calgary-McCall and Calgary-Mountain View), and the seats of Lethbridge-West and St. Albert. The UCP won the remaining 63 seats in the province. Two other parties that won seats in the 2015 election, the Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberals, failed to win any seats, making this election the first Alberta general election since 1993 where only two parties won seats.
The Election Act fixes the election date to a three-month period, between March 1 and May 31 in the fourth calendar year after the preceding election day which in this case was May 5, 2015. However, this did not affect the powers of the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislative Assembly before this period.
This election resulted in the highest voter turnout since 1982 at 68%, rising from 57% in the last general election held in 2015. It marked only the fifth change of government since Alberta became a province in 1905, and also the first time an incumbent government failed to win a second term.
Across the province, 1,896,542 votes were cast in this election.
The 2015 Alberta general election resulted in a New Democratic majority government headed by Rachel Notley. The New Democrats surprise victory ended the 44-year government led by the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, becoming the fourth change in governing party in Alberta's 110 year history. The Wildrose Party formed the Official Opposition under leader Brian Jean, while the incumbent Progressive Conservatives came third place, but were left without a leader after Jim Prentice resigned as leader and disclaimed his seat. The Alberta Liberal Party elected one member with interim leader David Swann capturing his seat, while the Alberta Party elected its first candidate to the Legislature in leader Greg Clark.
Major changes in leadership of opposition parties occurred over the next four years. Former Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament and Minister Jason Kenney was elected in the 2017 Progressive Conservatives leadership election on a platform of uniting the right wing parties in Alberta which occurred after Wildrose members voted 95 per cent in favour of merging into the new United Conservative Party and forming the Official Opposition. Later the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership election saw Jason Kenney elected as party leader and leader of the Opposition.
The interim leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and sole Member of the Legislative Assembly declined to contest the 2017 Alberta Liberal Party leadership election, which saw David Khan elected leader of the party. The Alberta Party saw two Members of the Legislative Assembly cross the floor over the four year period. Party leader Greg Clark resigned as leader in 2017, and the 2018 Alberta Party leadership election saw former Progressive Conservative MLA and Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel elected as party leader.
Following the NDP's election in 2015 the new government's first bill An Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta which amended the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act was passed by the Legislature. The bill banned corporate and union donations to political parties, set rules for political parties accessing loans and reinforced that only Albertans are able to make political contributions. The next year the government introduced further amendments reducing political contributions from $15,000 per year to a total of $4,000 per year (inclusive of parties, constituency associations, candidates, leadership contests, and nominations). The election reforms were supported by the Wildrose opposition, but commentators pointed out the changes hurt the Progressive Conservatives which relied on large corporate donations. Reforms also limited party expenses to $2 million between the writ and when polls close, limiting candidates to $50,000 per general election and $23,000 for by-elections. Third party advertisers were limited to $150,000 during the official election period, and limited to $3,000 for supporting or opposing a candidate.
Under the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act requires that a Commission be appointed during the first session of the Legislature following every second general election. The Commission requires a non-partisan chair, two government members recommended by the Premier, and two opposition members. Due to the decision by Premier Jim Prentice to call an early election in 2015, the Commission was required to be formed before the prescribed date in time for the next election in 2019. Previous Commissions had provided for modest redistributions in favour of Alberta's cities which according to Political Scientist Roger Epp brought forward "deep rural anxieties" regarding declining population and influence in Alberta.
The Commission was provided with a mandate which kept the size of the Legislature fixed at 87 seats. The Commission was appointed, led by Justice Myra Bielby made only incremental changes adding one new seat in Calgary and Edmonton, as well as a seat in the Airdrie area. The Commission did however make significant statements on the rural-urban divide in Alberta, noting "Alberta is no longer entirely or primarily rural in nature" and a "disproportionate preservation of the rural voice" was no longer acceptable or feasible under law. While the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act permits up to four districts to be formed with a population 50 per cent lower than the average population, the Commission only recommended that two of these districts be formed. The districts include Central Peace-Notley which had a population of 28,993 and area of 47,311 km2 (18,267 sq mi), and Lesser Slave Lake which had a population of 27,818, compared to the average population of electoral districts of 46,803 following redistribution.
A minority opinion was presented by Commission members appointed by the opposition, arguing that Alberta's rate of growth was a threat to "a critical part of our history, culture, and primary economic voice" which is at risk of being lost through continued redistribution.
The previous redistribution occurred in 2010 when an additional four constituencies were added, increasing the number from 83 to the present 87. Following the 2016 Canadian census the largest constituency Calgary-South East had grown to 79,034, while the smallest constituency Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley had a population of 25,192.
The United Conservative Party made a small improvement in its overall share of the popular vote compared to the combined vote of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties which preceded it. The party won 63 seats. The UCP finished no lower than second place in any constituency. UCP leader Jason Kenney won re-election in his constituency.
The Alberta New Democratic Party lost about one-fifth of its vote share, although due to the considerably higher turnout compared to 2015 it actually gained votes. The NDP with 24 seats formed the opposition in the Alberta legislature. The NDP finished first or second in 85 out of 87 ridings. NDP leader and outgoing premier Rachel Notley won re-election in her constituency.
No other party elected any MLAs, with the centrist Alberta Party being the only other party to run a full slate of candidates. The Alberta Party more than quadrupled its overall popular vote, but failed to win any seats. All three Alberta Party incumbents were defeated, with former leader Greg Clark (the only MLA previously elected under the Alberta Party banner) being the only Alberta Party candidate to finish as high as second place. Current Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, a former mayor of Edmonton and PC cabinet minister, finished third in his own riding.
The Alberta Liberal Party finished fourth in the overall popular vote, with its vote share falling by more than three quarters. They were shut out of the legislature for the first time since 1982. Liberal Leader David Khan placed fourth in his constituency, which was formerly represented by his retiring predecessor David Swann.
A number of minor parties, including several running to the right of the UCP, contested the election, but none came close to winning any seats. The Alberta Independence Party (which fielded the most candidates after the UCP, NDP and AP) finished fifth in the overall popular vote. The Freedom Conservative Party finished sixth, although they ran fewer candidates compared to the other parties. On average, FCP candidates polled the most votes outside the three largest parties. The FCP's only incumbent (party founder and leader Derek Fildebrandt), who had been originally elected as a representative for the now defunct Wildrose Party, finished a distant third in his own riding. The Green Party of Alberta finished seventh in the overall popular vote and the Alberta Advantage Party finished eighth.
The last time only two parties took all of the seats was in 1993, and the only time before that was in 1913 after the defeat of Socialist Party MLA Charles O'Brien and before the rise of farmer and labour parties. Incumbent Independent MLA Rick Strankman – previously a UCP MLA – finished second place in his riding.
This was the first provincial election in which eligible voters could cast ballots at any advance poll in the province, not just at stations in a person's riding. The program was called "Vote Anywhere" by Elections Alberta.
Notley's 24-member caucus is the largest Official Opposition caucus since the Liberals won 32 seats in 1993. The overall result for the NDP (both in total seats and share of the vote) was the second best in the party's history after its 2015 win.
Due to the non-proportional representation First Past the Post election system that is used in Alberta, in 2019 the NDP swept all but one of the Edmonton seats, while the UCP swept almost all the seats in Calgary and 39 of the 41 seats in rural Alberta. NDP MLAs were elected in 20 of the 21 Edmonton districts, 3 of the 26 Calgary districts and 2 of the 41 districts outside the major cities, the latter including suburban St. Albert.
Those candidates not belonging to a major party, receiving more than 1,000 votes in the election, are listed below:
For the 2019 Alberta general election all parities cumulatively raised a total of $7.9 million and spent $11.3 million. At the constituency level, Calgary-Mountain View had the highest expenses at a total of $212,354, including four candidates which exceed $40,000. Of the 38 candidates which exceeded $45,000 in expenses, 21 were elected. Third party advertisers raised a total of $2.1 million and spent $1.9 million during the election. Unions contributed 46 per cent of the revenue for third party advertisers, corporations contributed 39 per cent, and individuals contributed 15 per cent.
The following is a list of scientific opinion polls of published voter intentions.
The following MLAs have announced that they would not run in the 2019 provincial election:
The final list of candidates was published by Elections Alberta on March 29, 2019. The official results were published on May 14, 2019.
Party leaders are in bold. Candidate names appear as they appeared on the ballot.
† = Not seeking re-election
‡ = Running for re-election in different riding
27 Edmonton constituencies Six Central Edmonton constituencies Seven North Edmonton constituencies Seven South Edmonton constituencies Seven Suburban Edmonton constituencies
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