The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador was poised on Thursday to win a minority government, narrowly holding off the resurgent Progressive Conservatives but raising questions as to how long the Liberals can retain power.
With most of the votes counted, Premier Dwight Ball’s party stood to win 20 of 40 seats in the provincial House of Assembly, while the Progressive Conservatives were leading in 15. The NDP were leading in three, while two had been declared for Independent candidates.
The campaign had unfolded against the backdrop of Newfoundland’s dire economic and fiscal position. As a result, the contest was described as conspicuously short on policy proposals: Ball, PC leader Ches Crosbie and the NDP’s Alison Coffin had little fiscal room with which to propose program spending or tax incentives. As Maclean’s writer Aaron Hutchins put it in his advance story from Newfoundland:
Without any plans to increase revenue, the alternative is to introduce massive austerity measures and rein in spending, but it’s not easy getting elected by telling folks Nanna and Poppa won’t be getting the same kind of health care as other provinces because of budget problems.