By Julio Cesar Rivas
Toronto, Canada, Sep 20 (EFE).- The Liberal Party of Canada has won the federal election held on Monday, thereby securing its leader Justin Trudeau a third straight term, according to the projections of the Canadian public broadcaster CBC.
Although a large part of the votes in the center and west of the country have yet to be counted, CBC pointed out that the Liberals have so far obtained over 150 seats of the 338-member House of Commons (lower house of parliament), which would result in another Liberal minority government. A majority requires 170 seats.
At just after midnight in Ottawa, projections gave the Liberal Party 156 seats compared to 122 for the Conservatives, 30 for the sovereignist Bloc Québécois, 28 for the social democratic New Democratic Party and 2 for the Green Party.
Around 30 million people were eligible to vote.
The latest polling results released before the start of voting showed a technical tie between the Liberals and Conservatives, with the Liberal Party tipped to secure 31.5 percent of the votes and the Conservative Party 31 percent.
But the country’s electoral system (Canadians vote for one candidate per ballot in each electoral district and the candidate with the most votes wins) will allow Trudeau’s Liberals to get more seats than the Conservatives.
The predicted results would give Trudeau a bittersweet win as he would not achieve the absolute majority he had hoped to secure when he called a snap election, and would add pressure on his leadership of the Liberals in the future.
In August, Trudeau decided to call snap elections only two years after the previous elections amid polls that indicated that the Liberals were as much as 10 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.
At that time, a majority of Canadians approved of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis caused by it. However, after the snap polls were called, many voters expressed their dissatisfaction with the elections and the Liberals began to lose support.
During the election campaign, Trudeau has defended the call for early elections saying they would enable Canadians to decide on measures to adopt to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.
Opposition parties have accused him of calling elections in the middle of a health emergency in order to try to get an absolute majority in parliament.
But Trudeau has struggled to defend the decision and justify the more than CA$600 million ($468 million) that the elections will cost, the highest ever.
Trudeau voted on Monday morning accompanied by his wife, Sophie Grégoire, and their three children in his constituency in the city of Montreal, while Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole cast his vote at a polling station in the town of Oshawa, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Toronto.
After casting his vote, Trudeau posted a message on his Twitter account encouraging people to vote, with a photograph in which he appears casting his ballot surrounded by his three children. “Just voted in #Elxn44 — you should too,” he wrote.
O’Toole also took to Twitter to encourage Canadians to go to the polls.
“Proud to cast our ballots today, make sure you do the same!” said the Conservative leader, whose tweet was accompanied by a photo of him with his wife, Rebecca, both of them casting their ballots.
The only major incident recorded in the early hours of the day was a confrontation at a polling station in the city of Edmonton, in the west of the country, when two people refused to wear masks, as is mandatory.
Witnesses said that a man and a woman tried to cast their vote without wearing masks, which caused an altercation that forced the police to intervene. After the arrival of the officials, the two individuals left the center without voting.
Covid-19 measures have caused the voting process to be slower this year than in the past. In cities like Toronto, long lines have formed at some polling stations due to restrictions on the number of people allowed inside. EFE