Canada federal elections: How does it work? A step by step guide to country's snap polls

·2 min read

Ottawa: Canadian voters will return to the polls on Monday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pulled the plug on his minority government, only one and a half years after the last ballot.

Here are the steps for a snap election in Canada:

Election date

The vote was announced for 20 September after the dissolution of parliament by Governor-General Mary Simon, representative of Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

The campaign was set to last 36 days €" the minimum length by law.


Voters will be called upon to elect 338 members of parliament to the House of the Commons, whose term in office is normally four years.

Prime minister

A constitutional monarchy, Canada is also a parliamentary democracy in which the chief executive is the prime minister. The prime minister is the leader of the party that wins the most seats in the lower chamber.


In a first-past-the-post election, split across six time zones, a party might not win an absolute majority of 170 seats in the House of Commons.

If no party wins a majority, the party with the largest number of seats in the Commons is traditionally called on to form the government.

Confidence of the House

In order to govern in a minority situation, the government must have the "confidence of the House."

The party responsible for forming the government must be able to count on the support of a majority of MPs, either by obtaining the support on a case-by-case basis from one or more other parties, or by forming a coalition.

The current balance

Since Canada's founding in 1867, Liberals and Conservatives have alternated in power.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals, in power since 2015, lost their absolute majority in the 21 October, 2019 general election.

Before the dissolution of Parliament, the Liberals had 155 seats, the Conservatives 119, the Bloc Quebecois 32, the New Democratic Party 24, the Greens 2 and five elected MPs were independent. One seat was vacant.

The rate of participation in the legislative elections of 21 October, 2019 was 66 percent, compared to 68.3 percent in 2015 and 61.1 percent in 2011.


Also See: Why Canada's Justin Trudeau is falling behind in polls less than a week before elections

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