Electoral Chair’s Seminar – 17 April

Split Decision: Federal and Provincial Elections in Ontario, 1997-2022

Matthew Taylor-Université de Montréal

On the night of his re-election victory in June of 2022, Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a particular point of thanking voters who had “cast [their] last ballot for the federal Liberals” (CPAC 2022). Ford’s gratitude towards federal Liberals reflects a curious element of the past three decades of federal and provincial elections in Ontario, alternation between the Liberals and Conservatives. The Ontario electorate has exhibited a pattern of electing one party federally only to elect the other in the subsequent provincial campaign. This pattern is puzzling as Ontario’s party system is rather similar to its federal counterpart. If the parties are so similar at both levels, why do Ontario elections exhibit such alternation between parties in subsequent elections? This paper explores this phenomenon with a view towards examining the factors that drive this alternation. Specifically, I examine if this alternation can be attributed to either voters choosing different parties at different levels or by differential turnout between federal and provincial elections. Leveraging the fact that Ontario ridings have been identical both federally and provincially since 1996, this research employs ecological inference to examine vote flows between subsequent federal and provincial elections from 1997 and 2022. In so doing, this paper will explore the dynamics of Ontario voting behaviour and the patterns of alternation between federal and provincial politics.

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This content has been updated on 11 April 2024 at 8 h 41 min.