Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party will return to government with a diminished but secure majority in the Alberta Legislature.

Despite being projected to lose 14 seats when compared with the 2019 election, including a handful of those held by key cabinet ministers, the UCP are on track to secure 49 seats compared to the Alberta NDP's 38 at the time of writing. Several ridings in Calgary remained extremely close late into the night.

The campaign saw Smith grappling with backlash against extremist comments she made in the months and years before she became UCP leader last fall. These comments included comparing those who took COVID-19 vaccines to followers of Adolf Hitler and proposing a plan to sell off Alberta's major hospitals to for-profit operators.

Her party's election platform ultimately resembled a run-of-the-mill conservative offering, including tax cuts and heavy handed "law and order" policies. The platform contained no mention of Smith's signature "Sovereignty Act," a piece of legislation lambasted by critics last December as undemocratic and unconstitutional.

Rachel Notley's NDP, meanwhile, explicitly tried to court conservative voters disaffected by Smith's far-right political history, and pitched right-leaning fiscal policies like eliminating the province's "small business" tax and promising to maintain the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada (despite a proposed three per cent increase). The NDP secured endorsements from two high-profile former Progressive Conservative ministers on the basis of Smith's extremist views.

The NDP also tried to focus the election campaign on healthcare, promising to undertake a major recruitment drive of health professionals to address wait lists.

Ultimately, the NDP's rightward tack on economic policy failed to deliver sufficient gains, particularly in Calgary, which had been dubbed the election's key battleground. As predicted, the NDP swept Edmonton, the provincial capital, while the UCP overwhelmingly dominated rural areas.

Conspicuously absent from both parties' campaigns was a focus on the climate crisis, despite wildfires raging across the province throughout much of the election period.

In her victory speech, Smith opened by taking swipes at pro-NDP third-party campaign groups (she did not name any names) but said she wanted to put partisanship and "personal attacks" aside.

"My oath is to serve all Albertans no matter how you voted," she said. "I will work every day to listen and to improve on the issues you care about."

Smith then attacked the Trudeau government, taking particular aim at Ottawa's plans to cap emissions in the oil and gas sector, and to introduce a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.

Speaking to NDP supporters late last night, Notley said she would continue serving as leader of the opposition, despite acknowledging her party's disappointment at the results.

Editor's note, May 30, 2023: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the total number of seats won by the Alberta NDP.

Now, let's turn to the members' corner...

Members' Corner

A deeper dive into today's story - exclusively for subscribers.

Although the UCP's projected final seat count points to a majority, it was by no means all good news for the incumbents or other right-wing parties last night. Here's what else you need to know.

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