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Updated: Mon, 04 Nov 2013 05:48:46 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Quebec municipal elections: Montreal mayor-elect Denis Coderre urges unity



Montreal's newly elected Mayor Denis Coderre holds up the city's flag at his victory rally. CBC

Montreal's newly elected Mayor Denis Coderre holds up the city's flag at his victory rally. CBC

A federal MP who left his role in Ottawa to run for the top seat at Montreal's beleaguered city hall has claimed victory.

Denis Coderre took an early lead on election night, ultimately securing victory with 31.8 per cent of the vote. 

Coderre appealed for non-partisanship among those elected to council from the four leading municipal parties.

"We are at the crossroads right now," Coderre told a crowd gathered for his victory party at L'Astral.

'We are all Montrealers'

"I will be the mayor of all Montrealers ... I will need them to say that from now, we won’t define Montreal as different territories. We are all Montrealers."

Coderre's team is expected to take around 27 seats on Montreal council. Projet Montreal, which took third place in the 2009 election, saw itself move up to official opposition status at city hall with a projected 22 seats. 

Projet Montreal leader, Richard Bergeron, failed in his mayoral bid, but may still have a way onto council after Janine Krieber, Bergeron's candidate designate, won her race in Montreal's Ville-Marie borough by an unofficial margin of 48 votes. 

"If Mr. Coderre and his majority ... want to go in the right direction," Bergeron said. "Our political party will help them to fulfill the projects that remain on our minds as we work together on city council for Montrealers."

Bergeron said he will decide with Krieber within the next 12 days who will take the council seat 

Newcomer Mélanie Joly, a name few knew only a few weeks ago, outperformed the expectations of most, ending her mayoral race with what appears to be a close second-place finish.

"We came within a few steps of victory, something nobody would have predicted only a month ago," she told a crowd gathered at Théâtre Plaza.

"Many times, since the beginning of this campaign, I have talked about trust.

"I can say tonight that I was right to trust Montrealers. Montrealers have confirmed change is possible when you put in the work and when you believe in what you do."

2 mayors resigned in less than 1 year

Only an hour after polls closed in the hotly contested race for mayor of Montreal, CBC/Radio-Canada projected Coderre would win. 

The city was left without an incumbent after the resignation of two mayors in less than a year.

Coalition Montreal's Marcel Côté, who lead a team heavy with experience, trailed in fourth place. 

Côté was the first to concede defeat. The economist, who failed to win over Montrealers despite being considered a serious contender at the start of the campaign, thanked his candidates and remained steadfast that Montreal needed a change "from the roots up."

"I hope the new mayor, who I congratulate, recognizes that Montreal needs a profound restructuring. The population has made its choice. I was not able to convince the majority of the population."

Labeaume victory in Quebec City

Meanwhile, the popular, incumbent mayor in Quebec City was one of the first to officially regain his seat today in Quebec's province-wide municipal elections. 

Régis Labeaume, who was first elected as mayor in 2007, was declared the winner within 10 minutes of the polls closing at 8 p.m. ET. 

While voters in the province's capital had a familiar face in the running, in Montreal, where two mayors resigned in past year, it was the first time since 1986 that no sitting mayor was on the ballot.

In more than 300 municipalities, local leaders were re-elected without opposition, leaving about 800 municipalities to choose their candidates. 

There were several key races across the province, including in Quebec City, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Levis and Trois-Rivières.

Province-wide 13,247 candidates ran for municipal office, a jump of four per cent compared to 2009.

Turnout slightly higher

The Union of Quebec Municipalities said it hoped at least 50 per cent of eligible voters would cast ballots by the time polls closed.

In 2009, 39.4 per cent of Montrealers cast a ballot in the municipal election. 

As of the latest count, turn out in Montreal this time around was at 40.55 per cent, according to Elections Montreal.

The province-wide numbers are not yet available. 

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