The results from yesterday's Canadian elections weren't as good as Conservatives were hoping for, but they will likely be in charge when the dust settles. In a 308-seat House of Commons, you have the following results
51- Bloc Quebecois
29- New Democrats
1- Independent (maverick Quebec City talk show host Andre Arthur)
A majority would be 155. While it would be possible that both the BQ and the NDP could band together to prop up the current Liberal government, that ain't gonna happen. So, PM Paul Martin has announced that he's stepping down as Liberal party leader while retaining his MP seat.
The BQ now becomes the key swing vote. While the Tories and the NDP would be strange bedfellows, there are a number of reform issues they could agree on, but they're two votes shy of a majority; in theory, a Tory-NDP-Arthur coalition could win a 154-153 vote with a Liberal speaker of the house not voting, but that's cutting things real close.
However, the BQ is going to be nervous about cooperating too closely with the Tories; they'll have to figure out whether playing the fierce opposition will help or hurt. If they play the nay-sayer, they'll differentiate themselves from the Tories but may scare off some soft-separatists; Conservative-BQ dynamics is one big story to follow in the months to come.
The result will be chewed over for a while; the 125 seats means that the Tories have to make strategic changes to get to a majority rather than riding-by-riding tactical changes. Had the weekend polls (save SES, who nailed it after being the most pessimistic about the Tories all campaign long; the other polls must have had a pro-Tory bias) held up, the Tories might have been able to play small-ball to get to a majority.
The Conservatives need not make too many drastic changes to get there. I'll go over some strategies that can get them to a majority while staying themselves in future pieces.