Darrell Dexter — the man who led the first NDP government in Atlantic Canada — couldn't secure his own seat, let alone clinch a second term as Nova Scotia's premier.

Dexter lost his Cole Harbour-Portland Valley seat by 21 votes to Liberal Tony Ince.

“I know that we didn’t meet every expectation,” says Dexter. “New Democrats have shown that we can be more than critics, although it looks like the people want us to be critics again, with our ear closer to the ground.”

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Premier Darrell Dexter addresses supporters after being defeated in the Nova Scotia provincial election in Halifax. (The Canadian Press)

The NDP loss marks the first time in 131 years that Nova Scotians haven't given an incumbent party a second chance at running the province.

“We didn’t see this kind of erosion, but in politics you have to deal with what you have in front of you and that’s what the party will do. They’ll move forward. As far as I’m concerned, the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Dexter became premier after the June 2009 election, but his popularity with the public was quickly tested when he went back on a promise not to raise the harmonized sales tax, a measure he says had to be taken to turn around the province's poor fiscal state.

He said governing in tough economic times as Nova Scotians continue to head west for work has also been challenging.

On the campaign trail health care became a battleground for Dexter. The New Democrats said the Liberal’s proposed cuts would create chaos and drive health-care workers out of the province.

When the campaign began to wind down he tried to highlight his government’s record, citing the federal navy shipbuilding contract, a balanced budget and fewer emergency room closures as evidence of the NDP’s achievements.

In the end, Nova Scotians didn't seem to agree.

Dexter hasn't speculated on his political future.

He is a former journalist and lawyer. He was first elected in 1998.

Big win for Stephen McNeil

After 14 years on the Opposition benches, the Liberals formed a majority government.

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Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil addresses supporters as he makes a campaign stop in Elmsdale. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil went from running a small appliance repair business to leading a province.

“He deserves the credit for this win,” Dexter said of his successor.

The Liberals kicked off their campaign with what became one of their defining platform promises: breaking up the Nova Scotia Power monopoly.

McNeil was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 2003. This was his second election helming the Liberal Party.

Before entering politics, McNeil ran a small appliance repair business. He is the 12th of 17 children.

What does it mean for Jamie Baillie?

Election night was a big win for Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie, who secured his Cumberland South seat.

He led his party from third position to Official Opposition.

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Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie campaigns on the waterfront in Dartmouth, N.S., on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“What a great night to be a Progressive Conservative,” Baillie said to a crowd of supporters.

Throughout the campaign, Baillie said the Tories offered an alternative to the other two parties. His main promises included frozen power rates and tax cuts.

Baillie was acclaimed as Progressive Conservative Party leader in August 2010 after the deadline for candidates passed with no one else entering the race. He won a byelection in Cumberland South a few months later.

Prior to politics, the chartered accountant worked in the private sector as president and CEO of Credit Union Atlantic.

Green Party Leader John Percy did not win his riding.

2009 and 2013 Nova Scotia political map

With files from The Canadian Press