Members are first elected to the legislature during general elections. General elections must be conducted every five years from the date of the last election, but the premier may ask for early dissolution of the legislative assembly. An election may also happen if the Governing party loses the confidence of the legislature, by the defeat of a supply bill or tabling of a confidence motion.
A leader of a party is decided upon by an internal constitution unique to each party that comprises a framework to elect or appoint a leader. The leader must then win a seat in a by-election or general election. If a leader of a governing party fails to win a seat, he must sit in the legislature gallery, with the public until a new leader is decided upon or by-election becomes available. While sitting in the gallery a premier can not exercise any legislative powers.
Prior to 1905, Alberta was part of the North-West Territories and was governed by the Lieutenant-Governors of the Northwest Territories until 1897, and the Premier of the Northwest Territories from 1897 to 1905. Since 1905, Alberta has had four political party dynasties.
Arthur Sifton would replace Rutherford as premier. Shortly before the 1913 election Sifton's Liberals jammed through a controversial bill greatly expanding the size of the legislative assembly. The bill was once again said to gerrymander boundaries in Liberals favor. The press and opposition would term his reign as premier "Siftonism" implying that his reign was diesease on Alberta. Sifton would only last one term as premier as he left to pursue a career in federal politics.
Charles Stewart replaced Sifton and held the Liberal government through the lackluster 1917 election which a large portion of seats were held by acclamation. The opposition was the strongest ever. The Conservatives which formed the official opposition with 19 seats thought they had the upper hand on the waning Liberal government. Both would be surprised by the United Farmers who routed the Liberals and Conservatives in rural areas to form the government in the 1921 election.
Greenfield would resign four years later because he was often absent due to illness. John Brownlee, who had previously been offered the job, succeeded him. Brownlee's reign as government leader was troubled by the onset of the great depression. He resigned in scandal after he was accused of sexual acts with a minor in the Attorney General's office. This and another scandalous divorce by Oran McPherson, speaker of the legislative assembly, gave the United Farmers an image of moral decay. In 1934 Richard Reid would replace Brownlee and lead the United Farmers government into total defeat at the hands of the new Social Credit party.
Aberhart died in 1943 and was replaced by Ernest Manning. Under Manning Social Credit moved away from the monetary theory of Douglas towards traditional conservatism. Manning would lead the party through seven straight massive majorities until he resigned in 1967. Harry Strom, a long time cabinet minister, would replace Manning. Strom would lead the party to defeat at the hands of the Progressive Conservatives and Peter Lougheed in the 1971 election. Strom and his government looked old and tired and out of touch compared to the new Progressive Conservatives.
Don Getty, one of Lougheed’s long time cabinet ministers, would return to politics to win the leadership of the party. His reign would become very unpopular as he led Alberta into large deficit spending, and marked an era of big government which the province could not afford. In the 1989 election he was defeated in his seat in Edmonton Whitemud while his party won a majority. He would be forced to sit in the gallery until he won a seat in a by-election in Stettler. His refusal to leave as premier would lead Laurence Decore to help the Liberals sky rocket in popularity. Getty would resign and be replaced in a bitter leadership battle by Ralph Klein.
Ralph Klein, the former mayor of Calgary, led the party into the 1993 election, promising a new era of debt reduction and fiscal accountability. He walked away with a slim majority. Ralph Klein's folksy appeal helped the Progressive Conservatives renew themselves. He would lead the party through two elections, gaining in popularity each time. In early 2004 he announced that the Alberta debt was paid in full. He was rewarded with winning the 2004 election, despite running a campaign with no new policies brought forward. His party would lose a number of seats and during the campaign he stated this would be his last election. In 2006 at a Progressive Conservative convention delegates would force him to pick a retirement date by giving him low numbers in a leadership review.
|Name||Took Office||Left Office||Party||Reason for leaving|
|Frederick Haultain||October 7, 1897||September 1, 1905||Liberal-Conservative||Province created|
|Name||Took Office||Left Office||Party||Reason for leaving|
|Alexander Cameron Rutherford||September 2, 1905||May 26, 1910||Liberal||resigned|
|Arthur Lewis Sifton||May 26, 1910||October 30, 1917||Liberal||resigned|
|Charles Stewart||October 30, 1917||August 13, 1921||Liberal||lost election|
|Herbert Greenfield||August 13, 1921||November 23, 1925||United Farmers||resigned|
|John Edward Brownlee||November 23, 1925||July 10, 1934||United Farmers||resigned|
|Richard Gavin Reid||July 10, 1934||September 3, 1935||United Farmers||lost election|
|William Aberhart||September 3, 1935||May 23, 1943||Social Credit||died|
|none||May 23, 1943||May 31, 1943||not applicable|
|Ernest Manning||May 31, 1943||December 12, 1968||Social Credit||resigned|
|Harry Strom||December 12, 1968||September 10, 1971||Social Credit||lost election|
|Peter Lougheed||September 10, 1971||November 1, 1985||Progressive Conservative||resigned|
|Don Getty||November 1, 1985||December 14, 1992||Progressive Conservative||resigned|
|Ralph Klein||December 14, 1992||December 14, 2006||Progressive Conservative||resigned|
|Ed Stelmach||December 14, 2006||present||Progressive Conservative||not applicable (incumbent)|