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Greens likely took Liberal votes locally

While BC politicians wait on tenterhooks for the results of judicial recounts, and the tallying of 176,000 absentee ballots (May 22-24), the BC Green Party is celebrating the gain of two seats in the Legislature, which triples their representation in Victoria.

If the counts do not change the outcome of the election, the Greens will hold the balance of power in a minority government.

vote graph“Obviously it would have been nice to have four seats, one of them being me, but this is fantastic,” said Powell River-Sunshine Coast Green Party candidate Kim Darwin. “I hope it remains as is with the Greens having the balance of power. It’s interesting times politically for British Columbia.”

Preliminary results in this riding placed Darwin third, with 5,629 votes, just 88 votes behind Liberal candidate Mathew Wilson. NDP candidate Nicholas Simons won the riding decisively with 11,846 votes, or 50.75 per cent of the popular vote.

Contrary to a buzz of pre-election media speculation that the Greens would take votes away from NDP, it appears that the Greens took more from the Liberals. In this riding, the Liberal share of the popular vote dropped more than eight percentage points from 2013 (from 32.78 per cent to 24.49 per cent), while the NDP dropped four percentage points (from 55.2 per cent to 50.75 per cent).

Over the last three elections the Liberals have lost almost 10 per cent of the popular vote, while the NDP lost 7.5 per cent,  and Greens gained close to 18 per cent in Powell River-Sunshine Coast.

“I can only talk about what I heard when door-knocking,” said Darwin. “I heard there were a lot of people who had voted Liberal before who were voting Green. There were also a lot of NDP that were voting Green. People are sick and tired of status quo old time politics.”

Darwin contends that the BC Green Party also attracts many new voters. And as for pulling votes from the left, she pointed out that party leader Andrew Weaver won his seat in 2013 from a Liberal cabinet minister while federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May won her seat in a previously-Conservative riding.

Darwin did not offer any speculation about how shifts in population have affected politics in this riding, but 2016 Census figures show that the lower coast (which has been growing faster than Powell River since the 1990’s) now has almost 30,000 people compared to 20,000 in the Powell River Regional District.

Party organizers and political pundits are waiting impatiently to analyze poll by poll results which will not be available until later this month.

Donna McMahon

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