The P.E.I. Liberal Party won a third majority government Monday night, but the way they did it was unprecedented.

In a province where election outcomes are often decided within the first half hour after polls close, Islanders had to wait more than two hours for a result, and there were big surprises along the way.

Liberals lose a lot of votes, but still win majority

The Liberals took a big hit Monday night, dropping 10 points in the popular vote from 2011 to fall to 41 per cent.

But Premier Wade MacLauchlan will still lead a majority government for the next four years, with 18 of 27 seats in the legislature. MacLauchlan campaigned on a theme of economic renewal for the province.

The Liberal government survives because of the way the opposition vote split. The Tories also lost popular vote, and so were not able to convert their votes into many new seats. The Greens and NDP drew 22 per cent of the vote, but won only one seat between them.

MacLauchlan hinted throughout the campaign that electoral reform could be on the agenda for his first term, and said on election night he would work with other parties to make sure voters have confidence in the democratic process.

In 2005 a proposal to introduce proportional representation was soundly defeated in a plebiscite. Given the apparent dissatisfaction of the electorate with the two parties that have historically controlled the legislature, a new proposal might find more fertile ground.

Green Party wins a seat

Peter Bevan-Baker celebrates win

Peter Bevan-Baker celebrates win with Green Party supporters. (CBC)

Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker made political history by winning a seat in legislature.

Political parties on P.E.I. have fallen into a strategy in recent elections of releasing their platforms plank by plank, keeping their leaders in the news day after day. Bevan-Baker broke away from that, releasing the party's full platform before the writ was dropped, and then throwing himself into campaigning in his own district day after day, away from the news cameras.

The single-district focus strategy is one that got David Coon elected in New Brunswick last year, and proved effective for Bevan-Baker on Monday night.

PC leader loses

While the Progressive Conservatives gained seats in the election, they lost popular vote, and they failed to elect their new leader.

Rob Lantz won the leadership in a Feb. 28 convention full of energy and optimism. The party had just come through two years under an interim leader and a period of very public infighting that saw a former leader tossed from the caucus.

The Tories will now have leadership on their minds again.

Two other candidates for the Tory leadership, James Aylward and Darlene Compton, did win seats in the legislature. Steven Myers, who was interim leader for two years, is also back in the house, but has said he is not interested in the job full time.

NDP don't win a seat

Despite being in a virtual tie with the Green Party in popular vote, the Island New Democrats did not win a seat in the legislature.

The New Democrats worked a more province-wide strategy than the Greens, with a focus on putting Leader Mike Redmond in front of the general public.

While the NDP did see a big increase in the popular vote, moving from three to 11 per cent, they did not make inroads where it counted, with a seat in Province House.

Redmond himself did not fare well in his district of Montague-Kilmuir (District 3), finishing third and almost 500 votes behind re-elected cabinet minister Allen Roach.

50-year tradition continues

Despite all the surprises on election night, the province continued with a pattern of giving parties three election victories.

It is a pattern that goes back to 1966: three victories and then you're out, with the election of 1978 being the only break.

It is a pattern the Liberals will make an effort to break in 2019.