For the first time in recent memory, Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservative party appear to have strong challengers as voters in the province head to the polls.
Premier Alison Redford called an election for April 23.
Candidates representing seven parties are running in the election, but the Conservative’s biggest threat comes from the Wildrose party under leader Danielle Smith.
Since being elected leader in 2009, Smith has been gathering momentum, especially in rural areas where she has targeted the government’s position on land-use rights.
Even though Wildrose holds just four of 83 seats in the Alberta legislature, in third place behind the opposition Liberal party, polls suggest Wildrose may gain enough seats to become the official opposition or even challenge the Conservatives for government.
Redford will try and lead her party to its 12th election victory. The party has governed with majority governments for 41 years.
Redford was elected leader last October and has since run on a platform of change. The Progressive Conservatives have been in power since 1971 when Peter Lougheed swept into power from the Social Credit.
Going into the election, the Progressive Conservatives have 67 seats, followed by the Liberals with eight, the Wildrose with four, the NDP with two and the Alberta Party with one. Four more seats have been added making 87 ridings in the province.
Candidates running as of March 26, the day the election was called:
Alberta Party 27/87
EverGreen Party 16/87
New Democratic Party 87/87
Progressive Conservative 87/87
Social Credit 1/87