Andrea Horvath stepped down as the head of the Ontario NDP, after the party lost several seats in Thursday’s provincial election.
The left-leaning party retained its official opposition position in the Ontario Legislature, which it had achieved four years earlier when the Liberals split in the last election. But the failure of the New Democrats to extend their support on Thursday put Ms Horvath’s leadership into question.
After an encouraging, campaign-style speech to her supporters in Hamilton, Ms. Horvath wept as she spoke about her future.
“My commitment to you is never going to waver, and I will keep working to earn your trust,” she told a small crowd. “But tonight, it is time for me to pass the torch… to pass the baton. To hand over the leadership of the NDP.”
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At the time of dissolution, the NDP had 39 seats. Incomplete results on Thursday night indicated the party would win 31. Totals of votes were just released in some ridings where polling was kept open late.
Ms Horvath, 59, represents a very safe NDP ride in Hamilton, and easily won her seat on Thursday. A former councillor, he has led the provincial New Democrats since March 2009. This was his fourth election at the helm of the party.
As the results came out, he faced an open challenge from within his caucus. NDP MPP Joel Harden, who represents the Ottawa Center, told reporters he wanted to congratulate Horvath on her leadership, but it was time for a change at the top.
The outgoing leader did not specify his next role. Some in the room for his speech on election night speculated that he would be encouraged to run for mayor of Hamilton.
As voting closed at 9 p.m., people began flocking to Ms. Horvath’s election night headquarters at the Hamilton Convention Center.
Victoria Shimlowski, a retired public school teacher in Hamilton, cheered with the crowd as TV reports declared the NDP the official opposition just before 9:30 p.m., when the same reports gave a majority victory for Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives. had predicted.
The New Democrats had sought to present an economically populist pitch against a backdrop of rapidly rising inflation, years of rising housing prices and a post-pandemic, which hit senior citizens in particular hard. The party vowed to cap the price of gas and bring back fare controls. It also promised to facilitate the construction of 1.5 million new homes, hire health care workers and move away from long-term care for-profits.
Last week, the party was saying that there had been an increase in the total amount of donations from more donors than in 2019.
Dimitri Anastakis, professor of business history at the University of Toronto, said the NDP message is struggling to connect with voters because the macroeconomic picture is at odds with day-to-day financial concerns, with Ontarians worrying about gasoline prices or the cost of food. It is possible
“The policy options that Horvath and the NDP are offering will really fit the bill in times of recession,” he said. “And I don’t know if it can be called a recessionary moment when you have unemployment at record levels and GDP is not declining.”
Hamilton’s longtime NDP MP David Kristofferson was campaigning for the party on Thursday. He said that voters Feeling tired during this election.
“They are life weary. It was hard for people to focus on the campaigns, given that there was no one particular issue,” he said.
Ms Horvath had to postpone in-person events on Election Day after testing positive for COVID-19, but otherwise led a smooth campaign. There were controversies about individual candidates, but there was no major mess.
In a bitter fight for the Progressive vote during this election campaign, in which the NDP and Liberals often fired at each other instead of the governing Progressive Conservatives, neither party was expected to come close to forming a government.
The PC entered the Labor support of the New Democrats in this election campaign by winning the support of some unions – a development that could complicate matters for the NDP which must now rebuild and look to its future.
An Acos survey earlier this week showed PCs had almost the same amount of support among union members (35 percent) as the general public (37 percent). The survey consulted 1,430 people from May 30 to June 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, 19 times out of 20.
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