Can Christy Clark remain leader of the B.C. Liberal party?

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      On the face of it, it wasn't a disastrous election for the premier.

      Christy Clark's B.C. Liberals won the popular vote and ended up with two more seats than their chief rival, the NDP.

      It wasn't enough, of course, because the three B.C. Green MLAs hold the balance of power and have thrown their support behind the NDP.

      But Clark still fared far better than most other western Canadian provincial parties after four terms in government.

      There are three relatively recent examples in which one premier, like Gordon Campbell, was elected three times, and his successor, like Christy Clark, won a majority.

      Last year, the Manitoba New Democrats suffered a far more humiliating loss after three terms of Gary Doer's premiership and one term with Greg Sellinger at the helm.

      The NDP fell from 35 to 14 seats and their share of the popular vote plummeted to 25.73 percent. Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister won in a landslide.

      The Saskatchewan New Democrats were also defeated after three terms of Roy Romanow and one term of Lorne Calvert. In 2007, their percentage of the popular vote fell 7.44 percent and their seat count fell from 30 to 20 as Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party cruised to victory.

      And B.C.'s Socreds were trounced after three terms with Bill Bennett and one term of Bill Vander Zalm. They were reduced to seven seats and third-party status after the 1991 election.

      The only western Canadian party in recent history to win more than four consecutive victories was Alberta's Progressive Conservatives, which captured large majorities in 12 straight elections.

      Clark's problem, however, has been her post-election performance. The so-called clone speech, which ripped off the NDP and B.C. Greens' platforms, caused some to wonder if she's lacking political principles.

      Her claim that she was not interested in another election was belied by her advice to the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature. And her insistence that she would be fine with sitting on the opposition side of the legislature looked pretty hollow in light of the games she was playing with the office of the speaker.

      Her final speech before the nonconfidence came across at times as quite mean-spirited. This was particularly evident in her repeated condemnations of B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver and in her claim that the NDP was "vowing to twist the rules of our legislature".

      Clark may have narrowly won the popular vote but she seriously blew it by appearing prepared to do anything possible to retain power.

      As a result, she's damaged herself and likely emboldened potential rivals within the B.C. Liberal party.

      If she stages a comeback, she'll be joining a small club of Canadian politicians.

      Three former prime ministers—Pierre Trudeau, Mackenzie King, and John A. Macdonald—accomplished this after their parties were defeated in general elections.

      The same can be said for former Quebec premiers Robert Bourassa, Maurice Duplessis, Adelard Godbout, and Louis-Olivier Taillon. The only premier west of Quebec to manage this was James Gardiner in Saskatchewan.

      Since 1871 no B.C. premier has pulled off a comeback like that. Christy Clark would be the first.

      She's facing long odds, which helps explain why she appeared so desperate to force another election last week.

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