Measuring the Impact of the 2017 Election on Uncertainty in British Columbia

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Measuring the Impact of the 2017 Election on Uncertainty in British Columbia


  • Political uncertainty and policy uncertainty are linked and amplified under minority governments. Uncertainty in both spheres leads to lowered business investment and acts as a drag on the economy.
  • This bulletin uses a proxy measure of newspaper coverage of the terms “uncertain” and “British Columbia” from 2009-2017 to show which events and policies increase uncertainty.
  • The British Columbia measure shows that provincial elections have brought with them varying levels of political uncertainty, which were heightened in 2013 when there were concerns that the Liberal government might not win a fourth mandate, and in the most recent election held in May 2017, which resulted in no clear majority winner.
  • The 2017 election saw proportionately the highest number of stories that include the word “uncertain.” After previous elections, the uncertainty measure dropped dramatically and immediately, but that did not happen after the 2017 election.
  • The 2017 election stories focus on both the uncertainty of who will govern and about the policy uncertainty created by the alliance of the NDP and Green parties.
  • The policies most likely to be associated with uncertainty after the election were connected to energy and pipeline policy, taxation, and the economy.
  • If the government proceeds with its commitment to electoral reform, British Columbia could face more coalition governments, which would lead to persistent political uncertainty and more policy uncertainty.

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