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Election reveals stark urban-rural divide in Nova Scotia's political landscape

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HALIFAX -

The urban-rural divide has played a role in the Nova Scotia election. The Progressive Conservatives picked up enough seats outside of the province's largest centres on their way to a majority victory.

Premier-designate Tim Houston says he won't play favourites, but understands there's work to do to make inroads into the big cities.

"Historically the conservatives have always been stronger in rural areas," says Katherine Fierlbeck, a political scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The Progressive Conservatives surged to a convincing victory in the province's 41st general election, winning 31 of the 55 ridings and making Nova Scotia almost an entirely "blue" province.

Liberal and NDP support was concentrated mostly in urban areas, but regardless, Houston says all Nova Scotians are his priority.

"We're going to work with all Nova Scotians on the issues regardless of where they live. I will respect every voice in this province, I will listen to every voice in the province," Houston says.

One of the main planks in the PC's platform was health care. An important issue for all Nova Scotians but more so in rural communities where a lack of doctors and emergency room closures are more common.

"I think he's definitely got to follow through on that and he's going to have to do something about housing, says Dartmouth resident Ida Denyes.

Jennie Stevens, an NDP member of the Ontario legislature, is on vacation, but closely watched the election results last night. She says the urban-rural divide is partially based on party priorities.

"I think what happened was the Liberal, NDP have the platform of rent control, which is a big thing here in Halifax and Dartmouth, says Stevens.

The question is, can the new premier make any in-roads in the province's larger centres?

"I'm not sure how much support they will in fact be able to win in urban areas," Fierlbeck says. "To a certain extent he really has to think about not losing support from his rural ridings."

The transition of power began today and one of premier-designate Houston's first major decisions will be who will make up his cabinet.

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