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Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party have won the country's early general election.
But their gamble to win a majority of seats has failed - as the new result was strikingly similar to the election that took place in 2019.
Trudeau’s Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats — exactly the same number they won two years ago, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019.
The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 29, a gain of five seats, while the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois was down three at 28 and the Greens remained at two seats.
Why did Trudeau call an early election?
Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled.
But the prime minister argued the Conservatives’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccine mandates, would be dangerous, arguing Canadians needed a government that followed science.
Canada was already among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world, as the government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy amid lockdowns.
But the prime minister also supports making vaccines mandatory to travel by air or rail, something the Conservatives oppose. He had also pointed out that the Alberta province, run by a Conservative government, was facing a health crisis, running short of beds and staff for internsive care units.
'A bittersweet victory'
“Basically we are back to square one, as the new minority parliament will look like the previous one", said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal.
“Trudeau lost his gamble to get a majority so I would say this is a bittersweet victory for him".
"He and the Liberals saved their skin and will stay in power, but many Canadians who didn’t want this late summer, pandemic election are probably not amused about the whole situation".