Able to put their combined caucuses around a single card table, Newfoundland and Labrador's opposition parties are grappling with what life will be like in the shadow of a massive Tory majority.
Re-elected Liberal Kelvin Parsons says he expected his party to hold more seats than three.
The Liberal caucus was slashed from 11 seats to three in Tuesday's election, with the New Democrats held back to only party Leader Lorraine Michael's seat.
"Would I have believed that it would have happened at the kind of catastrophic levels for the Liberal party that happened last night, 10 years ago? Absolutely not," former Liberal cabinet minister Chuck Furey said Wednesday.
In 1996, Brian Tobin led the Liberals to a victory that all but crushed the Progressive Conservatives. Little more than a decade later, there is little to show of what is left of the Liberal machine.
"We certainly thought we would do better, with the number of seats," said Kelvin Parsons, who was re-elected in Burgeo-La Poile.
"This patriotic-type fervour that gets stirred up in Newfoundland is always good, if you happen to be on the side of it when it comes to winning."
Former Liberal cabinet minister Chuck Furey said he was shocked by Tuesday night's results, but thinks the party can rebuild.
Furey, who had been a cabinet minister in the Clyde Wells and Brian Tobin governments, credited Williams with not only presenting an appealing platform, but with running an excellent electoral machine on the ground.
Furey said the Liberals suffered from a "leadership vacuum" after former premier Roger Grimes retired in 2005, and were unable to recover by the time the election rolled around.
Michael Temelini, who teaches political science at Memorial University in St. John's, said the "shocking collapse" of the Liberal party was as important as the surging support for the PCs, who took 43 seats.
"The repudiation of the Liberals was complete," said Temelini, adding that even though the Liberals had targeted rural districts, the PCs still won more votes there.
"[This] was a complete breakdown of their voter base — a complete collapse of their voter support," said Temelini.
The Liberals took 22 per cent of the vote. In 2003, while losing government to the PCs, the Liberals had 33 per cent of the votes cast.
'[This] was a complete breakdown of their voter base — a complete collapse of their voter support.'
—Political scientist Michael Temelini
The results left a political map with blue stretches where red has historically been the favoured colour.
In the stretch of the west coast running from Corner Brook to St. Anthony — which had been the very base of support for former premier Brian Tobin and several of his cabinet ministers, including Furey — the Grits were for the first time unable to win a single seat. Bay of Islands incumbent Eddie Joyce and Humber Valley MHA Dwight Ball, the last representatives in that region, were both defeated.
"I said when the campaign started, you know, that teams can win it, candidates can lose it," said Ball, who had won a byelection in Humber Valley in March by seven votes.
"Even though [this] is a loss for us, and I can honestly say I'm sorry for that, but there's really nothing else we could have done."
With just three members, there has not been an Official Opposition caucus so small since 1966, when the PCs held only three St. John's-area districts in the face of one of Liberal premier Joseph R. Smallwood's electoral juggernauts.
|Last Update:October 9, 10:58:12 PM NDT|
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