Canada heads to polls to elect new government amid 4th pandemic wave

Toronto, Canada, Sep 20 (EFE).- Polling places opened early Monday morning in Canada, with voters heading to the polls to elect a new government just two years after the most recent balloting and with voter surveys indicating that neither the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or the Conservative Party will achieve an absolute majority in Parliament.

One of the unknowns on election day is how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the voting. Since the early hours on Monday, lines of voters stretched away from polling places with people following the health protection measures required to minimize the risk of contracting Covid-19.

According to Elections Canada, the independent and non-partisan agency responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums, more than 5.8 million Canadians voted early, a figure surpassing previous elections.

The province of Alberta, the nucleus of the conservative movement and one of the main sources of lawmakers for the Conservatives, has become the Canadian epicenter of the pandemic and finds itself dealing with a fourth wave of infection that has brought the local healthcare system to the verge of collapse.

Nevertheless, the situation that has harmed the electoral hopes of the Liberals, who had been up to 10 percentage points over the Conservatives in voter intention polling before the dissolution of Parliament.

Trudeau unexpectedly called the elections in mid-August in the hope that the Liberals would be able to garner an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament, a majority they had lost in the 2019 elections.

But voter surveys are showing a technical tie between the Liberals and Conservatives in terms of voter intention, although Canada’s direct suffrage electoral system favors Trudeau’s party in terms of seats in the lower house.

Election projections indicate that 31.5 percent of likely voters say they favor the Liberal Party, while the Conservative Party, headed by Erin O’Toole, stands at 31 percent.

In terms of lawmakers, however, 31.5 percent of the vote would give the Liberals 155 seats, two fewer than in 2019, while the Conservatives would receive 119 seats, also two fewer than they secured two years ago.

The social-democratic New Democratic Party would receive 32 seats, eight more than in the prior elections, and the Bloc Quebecois – which favors sovereignty for the francophone province of Quebec – would lose one seat and wind up with 31.

There are 338 seats in the lower house of the Canadian Parliament, with an absolute majority being 170 seats.


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