Opposition leader and head of the Alberta NDP, Rachel Notley, took to social media today, announcing her intention to run for Premier in 2023.
Polling indicates that the UCP’s popularity has been steadily slipping since the party’s election victory last year, winning 63 of the 87 seats in the provincial legislature. The most recent Angus Reid poll places the NDP and the UCP neck-and-neck, both with 38% support of intended voters.
Notley led the NDP to its first election victory ever in Alberta history in 2015, winning 54 seats in 2015—well above the threshold needed to form a majority government. The Premier’s four-year tenure was characterized by public health and welfare reform, an updated climate change strategy, a freeze on tuition for post-secondary students, a minimum wage increase and the curtailing of oil production.
Given the province’s historical domination by the Progressive Conservatives (and the social credit movement before it) from the 1930s onward, many attributed the formation of a left-wing government in Alberta—the first in modern history vote splitting between the Wildrose Party and the PCs. However, with a united conservative front now facing a genuine threat from the NDP, this earlier explanation for Notley’s win in 2015 has been invalidated—the left may be here to stay in Alberta.
According to Angus Reid, the rapid fall of UCP support, with three out of ten Conservative voters from last year now planning to support another party, has been attributed to two causes.
Firstly, the Alberta Party and Alberta Independence Party have seen a minor surge in popularity, with each polling just under ten percent—a blow strong enough to jeopardize the UCP’s changes in forming a government next election, let alone a majority.
Secondly, Premier Kenney’s response to job creation, unemployment and public education—particularly in a pandemic—have not elicited widespread approval. As the province amasses the most massive deficit in history, Angus Reid reports that only one in three residents support the government’s government spending record (and their plan for the economy more broadly).
Although Notley’s formal announcement was released today, the former Premier hinted at her party’s potential to strike back against the UCP as early as last year. “I feel pretty bullish about our chances,” she said in an interview with Global News.