OTTAWA • Canada's federal election could have a wide range of outcomes, some of which could lead to a period of prolonged uncertainty.
Here are some of the scenarios that could unfold.
MAJORITY LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT
The most stable government is one where one party has a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons. Parties usually need at least 39 per cent for a majority.
The Liberals have a shot at this if they can build on current polling of around 36 per cent to 38 per cent. The Conservatives are polling closer to 30 per cent.
MINORITY LIBERAL GOVERNMENT
Possible, as Liberals can almost certainly count on support from the New Democratic Party (NDP) for its broad programme and for its Budget.
However, minority governments can be short-lived and another federal election in six months to two years is possible.
STRONG MINORITY CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT
The Conservatives might win the most seats, as they often perform a few points better than the opinion polls on election day. Opposition parties have pledged to vote such a government down at the first opportunity.
Still, it is conceivable that one or more opposition parties might allow the Conservatives to govern, or that a few independents might provide the needed votes.
WEAK MINORITY CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT
Polls predict this is more likely than a strong minority Conservative government. Mr Stephen Harper's position suggests that he would lay out his government's proposed programme at the so-called Speech from the Throne in Parliament, possibly in January. Opposition parties could bring down the government in the vote on the Throne Speech.
IF MINORITY CONSERVATIVES FALL AT THRONE SPEECH VOTE IN EARLY 2016
Governor General David Johnston would decide whether to turn power over to one or more of the opposition parties or to call new elections.
COALITION GOVERNMENT IF MINORITY CONSERVATIVES FALL
If a minority Conservative government is voted down, the Liberals and NDP could possibly form a coalition, although Mr Justin Trudeau has repeatedly promised not to.
NEW ELECTION AFTER MINORITY CONSERVATIVES FALL
A new federal election in March or April next year is a possibility.