In a surprise upset, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and his scandal-ridden Liberal Party bested their reunited Conservative opposition in Monday's federal election. A strong showing by separatists in Quebec helped contribute to rob Martin of an outright majority, but a low-voter turnout across Canada could also be the reason.
No party alone has the balance of power. A Conservative and NDP alliance is one short of a majority government and will have to work with the Bloc separatists, with one solitary independent who may end up holding the keys to the kingdom.
Minority governments can be good. It will keep Paul Martin and the arrogant Liberals humble. This is a government that will have to be inclusive and work together on consensus in order to survive - meaning Canadians will have broader representation, or they will end up back at the polls sooner than later.
Next time around I predict the Conservatives will win a majority. By then there should be enough distance between them and their radical Reform roots. That is of course providing that they can stay out of trouble between now and then.
The Bloc separatists and NDP will have substantial clout in the new government so it should be very interesting. There will be a lot of changing alliances, flip-flopping all over the place depending on the issues. I'm looking forward to it because the last decade under Chretien was BORING to say the least.