1955 Alberta general election

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1955 Alberta general election

← 1952 June 29, 1955 (1955-06-29) 1959 →

61 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
31 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Ernest Manning.jpg
LIB
Leader Ernest Manning James H. Prowse
Party Social Credit Liberal
Leader since May 31, 1943 June 25, 1947
Leader's seat Edmonton Edmonton
Last election 53 seats, 56.2% 3 seats, 22.4%
Seats before 53 3
Seats won 37 15
Seat change Decrease16 Increase12
Popular vote 175,553 117,741
Percentage 46.4% 31.1%
Swing Decrease9.8% Increase8.7%

  Third party Fourth party
  J Percy Page.jpg Elmer E Roper.jpg
Leader John P. Page Elmer E. Roper
Party Conservative Co-operative Commonwealth
Leader since 1952 1942
Leader's seat Edmonton Edmonton (lost re-election)
Last election 2 seats, 3.7% 1 seats, 14.1%
Seats before 2 2
Seats won 3 2
Seat change Increase1 ±0
Popular vote 34,757 31,180
Percentage 9.2% 8.2%
Swing Increase5.5% Decrease5.9%

Premier before election

Ernest Manning
Social Credit

Premier after election

Ernest Manning
Social Credit

The 1955 Alberta general election was held on June 29, 1955, to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Despite losing almost 10% of the popular vote (compared to its 1952 proportion of the vote) and 30% of its seats in the legislature, the Social Credit Party, led by Ernest C. Manning, received a slightly higher number of votes than in 1952 and won a comfortable majority for its sixth term in government.

The Liberal Party emerged as the principal opposition to the Social Credit juggernaut, winning over 30% of the popular vote, and increasing its legislative caucus from 4 members to 15. The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation won two seats. However its leader, MLA Elmer Roper, was defeated, ending his thirteen-year career in the legislature. Three Conservative Party candidates and various independents also won seats.

This provincial election, like the previous seven, saw district-level proportional representation (Single transferable voting) used to elect the MLAs of Edmonton and Calgary. City-wide districts were used to elect multiple MLAs in the cities. All the other MLAs were elected in single-member districts through Instant-runoff voting. This was the last provincial election to use PR. After this the electoral system was changed to Plurality voting.

The rise in opposition MLAs was only partially created in the cities where single transferable voting was in use. Only one more opposition MLA was elected in the cities versus the number elected there in 1952. Calgary elected two Liberals in 1955 versus one in 1952. The addition of seven Liberal MLAs was produced by the rise in Liberal Party popularity. This was a sign of dis-satisfaction with the SC government which by that point in time had been in power 20 years.

A portion of the increased opposition caucus were four Liberal MLAs who were elected in rural districts through vote transfers conducted under instant-runoff voting despite the Social Credit candidate in each of the districts being the leader in the First Count. The election of these four caused the government to abandon the STV/AV system that had been in use since 1924. After the system's replacement by single-member Plurality voting and various other reforms put into effect by Premier Manning, the SC government would take many more seats in subsequent elections. [1]

Voter turnout in this election was 68 percent.[2]

Snap vote[edit]

The 1955 election was brought on after Liberal leader James Harper Prowse questioned the confidence of the government in question period regarding members of the Social Credit caucus who had had dealings with the Alberta Treasury Branch. Manning was angered by the question and had the Lieutenant Governor dissolve the assembly despite having two more years left in his term.

Expulsion[edit]

On the last day of the campaign Ernest Manning barred candidates Roy Lee and John Landeryou from running as official Social Credit candidates. However, due to the ballots having already been printed, the two men were still listed under the Social Credit name. Lee and Landeryou had violated the Legislative Assembly Act by renting a building to the provincial government.[3]

End of STV and AV[edit]

Following this election, the Social Credit government did away with the Alternative Vote Instant-runoff voting system, that had been in place in the rural constituencies, and the PR through Single Transferable Vote system in Edmonton and Calgary, both of which had been in place since 1924.

Under Single Transferable Voting, results would take up to five days to count the necessary vote transfers, before the last member was declared elected. This was especially problematic, in Edmonton that elected seven members. The resulting representation was very well balanced, with as many as four parties commonly elected in each major city.

As well, the government in 1955 had lost four local elections in rural constituencies due to vote transfers held under IRV, when its candidate had received the largest portion of the vote in the first round but was not elected to the seat after re-distribution of the ballots in later counts. The cancellation of the IRV system was meant to prevent this in the future. There were four constituencies where the SC had the largest number of first-choice votes but were not elected in the second round ballot count. One historian has stated that there were 20 constituencies like this in which the SC at the end won only five but that number is too high. There were 16 constituencies in which, in the first count, no candidate took the majority of the votes. Only in these constituencies was it necessary to hold more counts (involving re-distribution of some votes in accordance with voters' marked back-up preferences). Even where vote transfers were conducted and more counts held, mostly the candidate leading in the first round won the seat in the end, but there were four constituencies (Acadia-Coronation, Athabasca, Lac Ste. Anne and Vermilion) in which the leading candidate in the first round was not the candidate with the most votes at the end and thus did not win the seat. The victim in all four cases was a SC candidate. This indicated to the government that the supporters of the opposition parties were beginning to support each other in a joint effort to defeat the government.

The government presented the complicated voting procedure as reason to shift to First past the post, a voting system that was simpler but also was expected to give the government more seats. The 1955 election saw the election of the largest opposition caucus that Manning faced during his 25 years as premier. As well, it was the most opposition members Social Credit would face during its 36 years in power. After the shift to First past the post following this election, in the next election (1959) the government won all but four of the seats in the Legislature, far more than its due share of the vote.

Results[edit]

Party Party Leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1952 Elected % Change # % % Change
  Social Credit Ernest C. Manning 62 53 37 -30.2% 175,553 46.42% -9.82%
Liberal James Harper Prowse 53 3 15 +400% 117,741 31.13% +8.76%
  Conservative John P. Page 26 2 3 +50.0% 34,757 9.19% +5.52%
  Cooperative Commonwealth Elmer Roper 38 2 2 0% 31,180 8.24% -5.81%
Coalition Frank Gainer 2 * 1 * 4,581 1.21% *
  Independent 7 - 1   4,225 1.12% +0.88%
Liberal Conservative Ross Ellis 2 * 1 * 4,001 1.06% *
  Independent Social Credit 3 1 1 0.0% 2,721 0.72% -0.69%
Labor–Progressive 9 - - - 3,420 0.90% +0.52%
Total 202 60 61 +1.7% 378,179 100%  
Source: Elections Alberta

Notes:

* Party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

Popular vote
Social Credit
46.42%
Liberal
31.13%
Conservative
9.19%
CCF
8.24%
Others
5.02%
Seats summary
Social Credit
60.66%
Liberal
24.59%
Conservative
4.92%
CCF
3.28%
Others
6.55%

Members elected[edit]

For complete electoral history, see individual districts.

13th Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
  Acadia-Coronation James Sims Liberal
  Alexandra Anders Aalborg Social Credit
  Athabasca Richard Hall Liberal
  Banff-Cochrane Frank Gainer Coalition
  Bonnyville Jake Josvanger Liberal
  Bow Valley-Empress Bryce Stringam Independent
  Bruce Earl Hardy Social Credit
  Calgary Arthur Ryan Smith Conservative
  Hugh John MacDonald Liberal
  Frederick C. Colborne Social Credit
  Rose Wilkinson Social Credit
  Grant MacEwan Liberal
  Arthur J. Dixon Social Credit
  Camrose Chester Sayers Social Credit
  Cardston Edgar Hinman Social Credit
  Clover Bar Floyd Baker Social Credit
  Cypress Harry Strom Social Credit
  Didsbury James Lawrence Owens Social Credit
  Drumheller Gordon Taylor Social Credit
  Edmonton Ernest Manning Social Credit
  James Harper Prowse Liberal
  Abe Miller Liberal
  Harold Tanner Liberal
  Joseph Donovan Ross Social Credit
  John Page Conservative
  Edgar Gerhart Social Credit
  Edson Norman Willmore Social Credit
  Gleichen George E. Bell Social Credit
  Grande Prairie Ira McLaughlin Social Credit
  Grouard Joseph Desfosses Liberal
  Hand Hills Wallace Warren Cross Social Credit
  Lac La Biche Michael Maccagno Liberal
  Lac Ste. Anne John Mills Liberal
  Lacombe Allen Patrick Social Credit
  Leduc Ronald Ansley Independent Social Credit
  Lethbridge John Landeryou Social Credit
  Little Bow Peter Dawson Social Credit
  Macleod James Hartley Social Credit
  Medicine Hat Elizabeth Robinson Social Credit
  Okotoks-High River Ross Ellis Liberal and Conservative Coalition
  Olds Frederick Niddrie Social Credit
  Peace River William Gilliland Social Credit
  Pembina Robin Jorgenson Social Credit
  Pincher Creek-Crowsnest William Kovach Social Credit
  Ponoka Glen Johnston Social Credit
  Red Deer Cam Kirby Conservative
  Redwater Alfred Macyk Liberal
  Rocky Mountain House Alfred Hooke Social Credit
  Sedgewick Jack Hillman Social Credit
  Spirit River Adolph Fimrite Social Credit
  St. Albert Arthur Soetaert Liberal
  St. Paul Raymond Reierson Social Credit
  Stettler John Clark Social Credit
  Stony Plain John McLaughlin Liberal
  Taber Roy Lee Social Credit
  Vegreville Stanley Ruzycki Cooperative Commonwealth
  Vermilion Russell Whitson Liberal
  Wainwright Henry Ruste Liberal
  Warner Leonard Halmrast Social Credit
  Wetaskiwin John Wingblade Social Credit
  Willingdon Nick Dushenski Co-operative Commonwealth

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bob Hesketh, "The Abolition of Preferential voting in Alberta", Prairie Forum, Spring 1987; A Report on Alberta Elections, p. 77-80
  2. ^ A Report on Alberta Elections, p. 81
  3. ^ "Manning Takes Belated Kick At Two Former S.C. Members". Calgary Herald. June 29, 1955. p. 1.