A sweet night for Carole James

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The B.C. election was the Liberals to lose, and they almost did. The NDP took 31 seats away from them. The unpopularity of Premier Gordon Campbell, and the desire to keep him away from protesters, meant they had played hide and seek with the public.

Avoiding human contact is not the usual election campaign strategy for a winning party; it was almost enough to alienate the mainstream media, who otherwise gave the Liberals (aka the party of business) a free ride. Almost, but in the end the Liberals were given credit for a strong economy, and that was enough to carry them through.

The Liberals won about 46 per cent of the popular vote, compared to about 41 per cent for the NDP, and only nine per cent for the Greens, with the fringe parties garnering nearly four per cent.

The Liberals won big in ridings outside Vancouver, notably in the Fraser Valley, and in places such as Prince George where the NDP had high hopes. Vancouver split on classic lines. High income areas went right, lower income areas came back to the NDP. Vancouver Island is NDP territory.

Carole James had two big tasks as NDP leader: make herself known to the public, and expose the Liberal record in office. Having performed well she won the right to lead the official opposition. In the leadersâe(TM) debate she carried the fight directly to Campbell, and established herself as a serious contender for office.

The Green Party were the spoilers. Add the Green vote to the NDP vote, and you get 50 per cent.

An interesting argument was put forward by extra-parliamentary “greens.” Calling a vote for the Liberals a vote for extinction, they argued that environmentalists needed to vote NDP, reasoning — correctly — that a vote for the Green Party was a vote for Campbell.

The electors came out in large numbers, bucking a national trend. Politics obviously matters to British Columbians; people were ready on Election Day to do their civic duty.

The controversial STV (single transferable vote) electoral reform referendum yielded a surprise result. Considering that fully 82 per cent of electors were saying they did not understand it, more than 50 per cent voted for it. However, it needed 60 per cent to pass.

Star candidates, the Liberal Carole Taylor, former CBC Chair, and the NDP's Gregor Robertson, green business leader, both won. They are both potential party leaders.The province again has an official opposition; the government will be under the gun in the legislature.

It was a sweet night for Carole James and the NDP. But the depleted Liberals won another four years, the first B.C. government in 22 years to be re-elected.

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