Stephen Harper's Conservatives Win Canadian Election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party has won a majority of seats in Canada's general election, according to provisional results.

CALGARY, CANADA - MAY 2: Prime Minister Stephen Harper celebrates his majority government win in the federal election, May 2, 2011 in Calgary, Canada. Harper's conservatives rose to a majority government, while the New Democratic Party seized the official opposit

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party has won a majority of seats in Canada's general election, according to provisional results.

The Conservatives have won or are ahead in 167 of the country's 308 electoral districts.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is set to come second, with the Liberals trailing, Canadian media projected.

If the results are confirmed, Mr Harper would head a majority government for the first time.

Canadians voted on Monday in the country's fourth general election in seven years.

Mr Harper went into the vote having headed two successive minority Conservative governments since 2006. His party held 143 seats in the House of Commons prior to the dissolution of the last government.

The Liberals have historically been the main party in opposition when the Conservatives have held power, but the NDP now appears to have taken over that role.

The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which seeks independence for the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, suffered heavy losses, retaining only four seats out of the 47 seats they previously held, according to early results.

Mr Harper's government was forced into an election after a no-confidence vote in parliament.

It was found to be in contempt of parliament because of its failure to disclose the full costs of anti-crime programmes, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase stealth fighter jets from the US.

Opinion polls in the run-up to the election had suggested the left-leaning NDP was experiencing an unexpected surge in popularity and threatened to quash Mr Harper's hopes of winning a majority government.

"I just want to make sure our country keeps going, creating jobs, and that we do not take a risk of a minority parliament that drives us off the cliff economically," Mr Harper said earlier on Monday.

Mr Harper, a 52-year-old career politician, warned a win by the NDP could lead to out-of-control spending and higher taxes.

NDP leader Jack Layton, who favours high taxes and more social spending, has been a critic of Alberta's oil sands sector, the world's second largest oil reserves.

Mr Harper also said the Liberal Party, the largest opposition party, led by Michael Ignatieff, could not be trusted to handle the economy.

BBC