Canadians Defy Election Night Twitter Ban as Conservatives Romp

A triumph by Stephen Harper's Conservative government leaves the Liberals in disarray

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Canada held federal elections yesterday, after a no-confidence vote in March precipitated the collapse of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Here are four major storylines that are emerging as analysts sift through the results:

Conservatives Win Majority for First Time

The fall of Harper's government in March appears to have been a Pyrrhic victory for the opposition, given that the Conservative Party, exploiting a split in the liberal vote, won a majority of seats in Parliament after seven years of minority governments. What that means in practice, according to Bloomberg, is that Harper (celebrating his win above) will slash spending, cut corporate and personal income taxes, and open up industries to foreign investment in an effort to fuel economic recovery.

Liberal Party Devastated

Canada's Liberal Party got trounced in the election, with party leader Michael Ignatieff even losing his seat. Jack Layton's New Democratic Party assumed the role of the country's official opposition for the first time, with the Liberals relegated to a third party. Andrew Cohen at The Ottawa Citizen claims the Liberals "may well be finished as a national institution" and adds that we should expect the New Democrats to "sound sensible as a new centrist, progressive party, more liberal than social democratic. In this metamorphosis, the NDP will poach left-leaning Liberals and Tories unhappy with Stephen Harper's Conservatives. The talk of [a Liberal-NDP merger] will begin immediately."

Quebec Goes Federal

The separatist Bloc Québécois failed to win a majority of Quebec's seats for the first time since it entered elections in 1993, with the federalist New Democrats emerging victorious in the French-speaking province instead. But Don MacPherson at The Montreal Gazette cautions against reading too much into the results.  "We should not be too hasty in concluding from a single federal election that Quebec has ended its self-imposed political isolation from the rest of the country," he writes. "If it has opted back into Canada, it has done so only partly and grudgingly, and maybe only temporarily."

A Twitter Revolution, of Sorts

Who says Twitter revolutions are confined to the Arab world? On Monday, according to the AP, Canadians posted election information on Twitter in defiance of a long-standing law that bans reporting early results in order to prevent voters in the East from swaying voters in the West. The hashtag "tweettheresults" featured messages like "Hey everyone--keep going ahead with --if you all get fined $25k, we may actually kill our deficit!" and "Twitter users don't blink in online showdown with Elections Canada" and "Election Day media blackout is stupid! It's a violation of our constitutional right to free speech!" The Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon also noticed some expat grumblings: "Talk on social media of expat Canadians disheartened by election results forming a government-in-exile, akin to Burma's or Tibet's..."
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