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UPDATE: United Conservatives win majority in Alberta election

(Update @ 8:17 p.m.): The United Conservative Party under leader Jason Kenney has won a majority government in the Alberta election.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley has retained her seat of Edmonton-Strathcona in the Alberta provincial election.

(Original story @ 8 p.m.): The United Conservatives have jumped ahead in early returns in Alberta’s election.

Jason Kenney’s party have done well in rural areas. Rachel Notley’s NDP, however, is holding strong in Edmonton.

The UCP is holding early leads in many Calgary seats.

Calgary is seen by many as the key battleground in the election.

Kenney has already retained his seat of Calgary-Lougheed in the Alberta election.

It is the first provincial election for Kenney, a former federal cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government.

Kenney, who is 50, orchestrated a merger of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties in the summer of 2017.

He said at the time it was crucial to unite the right-of-centre parties so as to avoid a vote split and to defeat the NDP government.

He was chosen as the new party’s leader in the fall of 2017, and became a member of the legislature when he won a byelection in Calgary-Lougheed that December.

Polls closed have already closed in the election.

The governing New Democrats are hoping for second term over a United Conservative Opposition intent on winning power.

The NDP’s surprise win in 2015 ended more than four decades of Progressive Conservative governments in Alberta.

But this time around, the Progressive Conservatives are no more.

The PCs merged with another right-of-centre party, the Wildrose, to create the new United Conservatives led by former federal cabinet minister Kenney.

The four-week campaign focused on personal attacks and on Alberta’s fragile economy, which has been struggling with sluggish oil prices.

The NDP attacked Kenney out of the gate for his past views on same-sex rights and abortion.

Kenney criticized Premier Rachel Notley for working too closely with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on mired pipeline projects and environmental policy.

Almost 700,000 people voted early in advance polls.

With files from the Canadian Press

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