According to projections by television networks, Canadians returned Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to power in a hotly contested election against a rookie Conservative leader.
But with polls likely to still be reporting results into the next morning, it was not yet clear if his party managed to secure an absolute majority of seats in parliament that would allow him to pass his agenda without opposition support.
Trudeau called the snap election last month, hoping to parlay a smooth COVID-19 vaccine roll-out – among the best in the world – into a new mandate to steer the nation’s pandemic exit.
But the contest, after a bumpy five weeks of campaigning, appeared set for a repeat of the close 2019 general election that resulted in Trudeau clinging to power yet losing his majority in parliament.
A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases led by the Delta variant late in the campaign – after the lifting of most public health measures this summer – had also muddied the waters.
Trudeau said earlier he felt “serene” after casting a ballot in Montreal.