Elections

Canada's newly elected minority government won't crumble any time soon, analysts say

Key Points
  • The Liberals were expected to win 157 seats, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority government.
  • It means Trudeau will be forced to depend on other parties to govern.
  • Laura Stephenson, a political science professor at Ontario's Western University, says a stronger-than-expected minority government for the Liberals would most likely result in the ruling party seeking to govern "issue by issue."
Liberal Leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his victory speech at his election night headquarters on October 21, 2019 in Montreal, Canada.
Cole Burston | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has won a second term in office after a bruising and scandal-hit campaign that was light on policy and heavy on personality.

Trudeau's Liberal Party was set to fall short of a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons, according to the latest result projections of Monday's election.

The Liberals were expected to win 157 seats, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority government. It means Trudeau will be forced to depend on other parties to govern.

The opposition Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, appeared to be slightly ahead in the popular vote, but the party has not translated this success into parliamentary seats.

They are expected to take 121 seats, according to Elections Canada, up from 95.

"Thank you, Canada, for putting your trust in our team and for having faith in us to move this country in the right direction," Trudeau said via Twitter late Monday.

"Regardless of how you cast your vote, our team will work hard for all Canadians."

The left-leaning New Democrats, led by Jagmeet Singh, appeared to be on course to take 24 seats in Parliament.

The Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party based in the French-speaking province, was expected to take 32 seats, up from the 10 it won in 2015.

Voter turnout was listed at roughly 66%.

Reality check

"The Liberals should be pleased with this result," Cailin Birch, a global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via telephone.

In a vote that was reflective of a population "not necessarily enchanted by the Conservative offering," Birch said none of the Liberals' worst-case scenarios played out in the end.

Trudeau's victory comes after an intense and, at times, nasty six-week campaign, which prompted many to question his authenticity.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau gesture at the Federal Leaders Debate in Gatineau, Quebec on October 7, 2019.
Sean Kilpatrick | AFP | Getty Images

That's because, in addition to facing accusations of bullying by his former attorney general, it emerged that the Liberal party leader had worn blackface makeup on at least three occasions decades ago.

The photos of Trudeau in blackface were at odds with his oft-stated position as a leader seeking to improve the life of minorities in Canada.

It also appeared to tarnish his carefully curated global image as a progressive prime minister.

Nonetheless, Trudeau received a late endorsement from former U.S. President Barack Obama last week.

In a tweet, Obama urged Canadians to back Trudeau, saying he had been "proud" to work with his Canadian neighbor while in office and that the world needed "his progressive leadership now."

"Much like Obama, who came into office on this wave of optimism as a new political hero, if you will, Trudeau is coming back to reality in the second term," Birch said.

'No clear marriage of convenience'

Four years after Trudeau swept to power promising "sunny ways," the Liberal Party leader appeared to struggle to inspire voters during the campaign.

Just days before the federal election, opinion polls showed Trudeau running practically neck and neck with Scheer. But, with neither party on the cusp of securing a parliamentary majority, Canada is now on headed toward a minority government.

Laura Stephenson, a political science professor at Ontario's Western University, told CNBC via telephone that a stronger-than-expected minority government for the Liberals would most likely result in the ruling party seeking to govern "issue by issue."

"I don't expect it to crumble any time soon," Stephenson said, before adding Trudeau's Liberals would most likely pick and choose whom best to work with on a range of issues over the coming years.

Historically, minority governments in Canada have rarely lasted more than two years.

There is "no clear marriage of convenience" for Trudeau's Liberals when it comes to forming a majority government, Birch said.

"One thing is for sure, it is going to be a whole lot trickier."