Danny Williams and his Progressive Conservativeswon a landslide victory in Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday night,with a massive lead overtheir political opponents.
A buoyant Williams said he was "truly, truly overwhelmed by what has happened here tonight," and added he was humbled by the magnitude of the landslide.
From the start, the PCs were pollingabout69.5 per cent of the vote, giving the CBC's decision desk confidence in projecting a second mandate about 20 minutes after the polls closed.
At the end of the night, Williams's Tories had taken 43 seats, the Liberals 3 and the NDP 1.
Williams's vote shareis the highestsince the 1949 election, when Joseph R. Smallwood's Liberalsformed the first post-Confederation government with 70 per cent.
Williams will face a severely reduced opposition in thehouse of assembly. TheLiberals won just three seats, their smallest caucus in post-Confederation history. Opposition Leader Gerry Reid lost his own race, in The Isles of Notre Dame district, by just seven votes.
New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael was re-elected in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, returning a lone NDP seat to the house of assembly.
Williams, whocampaigned on a platform that emphasized hope and prosperity,rallied voters to back his agenda of greater control over natural resources and a plan to use oil-based wealth to improve an array of social services.
Williams told supportersTuesday night that Newfoundland and Labrador, which has been benefiting from high oil prices, will become a "have" province within two years.
"We will be self-reliant,"he said, echoingone of his campaign slogans.
Williams also took aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and vowed again to help defeat the Conservatives in the next federal election. Williams has attacked Harper for reneging on previous pledges to exclude oil revenues from the equalization formula.
"There's a message here, Steve," Williams told the crowd.
He warned Harper that if he wants to fight Williams again,"you've got to take on all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador." The crowd cheered loudly as Williams made digs at Harper's expense.
The governing PCs had held 34 of the house of assembly's 48 seats entering the campaign. The Liberals had held 11 seats, while the NDP had held one seat. There were two vacancies.
Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans to vote in November
The Tories had already secured one seat before voters headed to polling stations on Tuesday.
On Friday, the chief electoral office acclaimed Bonavista South PC incumbent Roger Fitzgerald after Liberal candidate Clayton Hobbs withdrew for health reasons.
Bonavista South was not the only district where polling stations were closed Tuesday.
An election in Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans district will take place Nov. 6, chief electoral officer Paul Reynolds announced the same day.
The election was postponed after Liberal candidate Gerry Tobin died of a heart attack. Reynolds said nominations in the central Newfoundland district will close Oct. 27.
Turnout at the polls was about 62 per cent, significantly lower than in most elections.
All parties had expressed concerns about low voter turnout, citing public disgust with revelations in a series of audits about spending at the house of assembly.
Auditor General John Noseworthy's reports led to criminal charges against four politicians and a suspended civil servant.