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How would a minority government in B.C. work?

Close election night race raises possibility of a coalition government

A close election night race raises possibility of a coalition government.

The Canadian Press

A close election night race raises possibility of a coalition government.

An extremely close race on election night has raised the possibility of a coalition government.

The Liberals are teetering on the edge of a majority or minority government, as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Greens cinched two seats and are leading in one other riding, causing some observers to label them kingmakers. 

A minority government would give the Green party the ability to push through some of their policies, said Kathryn Harrison, a UBC political science professor.

“That puts the greens in a very influential position,” she said.

“They will have significant influence at least on the key issues that matter to them or electoral reform.”

A tight result, where no one party gains a majority of seats, will likely mean British Columbians will need to wait for party leaders to negotiate either a coalition or try and form a minority government.

“One of the options [for the Greens] is to create a formal coalition or a formal agreement to support one of the parties,” said Harrison.

“Short of an actual coalition there can be a contract between parties that specifies that one small party typically will support another party forming government in exchange for certain commitments.”

Harrison explained Green parties in Europe have historically used the contract method to push through environmentally-friendly policies like carbon taxes.

The other alternative is either the NDP or Liberals could choose to govern as a minority and hope the Greens support them in the legislature.

But Harrison commented the Greens would likely try and negotiate a coalition or contract.  

“I suspect we would more likely see [that] approach because if the Greens were in that position, they would want to maximize their position.”

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