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The Canadian general election of May 2, 2011, was perhaps the most dramatic and surprising general election in 90 years. The closest parallel is 1921, when an entirely new party, the Progressives, won 64 out of 235 seats in the House of Commons and the Conservatives, who had governed Canada for 34 of the 54 years since Confederation, emerged with only 50. But the Progressives’ impressive showing in 1921 proved to be a flash in the pan, partly because they unwisely refused to designate one of their members as Leader of the Opposition. Deeply divided and disorganized, the party lost most of its seats at the next election, and most of its remnants were eventually absorbed by Mackenzie King’s Liberals.

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