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Good morning, Mark Iype in Edmonton today.

We have an answer.

Pollsters in Alberta had wildly different predictions for the outcome of Monday night’s election in the weeks leading up to voting day. At times the New Democrats looked poised for victory, while days later the United Conservatives appeared they had the election sewn up. Most people were left guessing.

But after a month-long campaign in which momentum swung back and forth between the two leading parties, the final result was probably the most predictable.

Danielle Smith and her UCP emerged with a majority government, though significantly smaller than the margin achieved by her predecessor, Jason Kenney, in 2019. And while the NDP, led by Rachel Notley, made significant gains, they weren’t enough to climb the steep hill on which battleground Calgary was perched.

Pending recounts in a few incredibly tight races (former health and justice minister Tyler Shandro trailed NDP candidate Diana Batten by just seven votes), the UCP ended up with 49 seats to the NDP’s 38, the largest official opposition in Alberta’s history.

As Ms. Smith took the stage just before midnight, she thanked the cheering crowd and almost immediately took shots at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a tactic that has proved to be popular for many Alberta conservatives.

She warned that the federal government is considering policies that will hurt Albertans and the provincial economy, with new restrictions on electricity generated from natural gas and an emissions cap, which she described as a “de facto production cap.”

“This is not a road we can afford to go down. If he persists, he will be hurting Canadians from coast to coast and he will strain the patience and goodwill of Albertans in an unprecedented fashion,” Ms. Smith told supporters in Calgary.

Ms. Notley and the NDP, however, were in a seemingly jovial mood despite not managing to crack Alberta’s conservative code. And perhaps surprisingly, after losing her second provincial election in a row as leader, Ms. Notley vowed to stay on as Opposition Leader.

“Now is not the time to let up. Now is the time to step up, to do the work that has been asked of us,” she told her crowd of supporters in Edmonton. “It is my honour to serve as your leader and it is my privilege to continue to serve as leader of the Official Opposition.”

So, now that the UCP has survived an election campaign that was often negative and sometimes nasty, the hard part starts. Ms. Smith may still have to fend off internal party strife between warring factions while governing and figuring out how to fix a number of issues that could derail her term.

As The Globe’s Kelly Cryderman said in her column on election night: “It would be nice to write that the culmination of this election will bring a new sense of balance and calm to Alberta politics. But instead, it’s likely a new round of turmoil begins today.”

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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