MONTREAL - Former federal Liberal party cabinet minister Denis Coderre is the new mayor of Montreal, but he won with significantly less support than earlier polling data indicated.
Coderre's lead shrank as vote results filtered in throughout election night, and by the time he gave his victory speech in a concert venue in downtown Montreal, he led with 32%, just five points ahead of his closest rival. The most-recent polls gave the former Liberal Party leadership hopeful a 17-point lead.
It was a late-campaign surge by the political novice, Melanie Joly, a 34-year-old lawyer and public relations specialist, who took away Coderre's comfortable margin and who had 27% of the vote, at midnight Monday morning.
Coderre, 50, will likely have to bargain for the support of other parties to pass legislation because his team is five seats shy of a majority on Montreal's 65-seat city council.
"The message today is clear: (Montrealers) asked us to work together on council," he said. "The results are tight and I expect there will be recounts."
After 15 years in federal politics, Coderre -- Montreal's fourth mayor in less than 12 months -- now has to fulfil his promise of gaining the trust of Montrealers who have been saddled with seemingly unending reports of corruption coming out of city hall.
Coderre promised Montrealers that he was best able to bring integrity back to the city - a theme to which all candidates laid claim.
However, he also tried to position himself as the only candidate with the necessary experience and contacts to get the most for Montreal from the provincial and federal governments.
"I already spoke with (provincial ministers) and other mayors," he said. "I told them that Montreal is not a region like the others, they know me, they know my style "¦ Montreal is a metropolis and starting now, we will be respected as such."
More than 1,100 Quebec municipalities held elections Sunday, as required by provincial election law, which stipulates that all municipal voting be held on the first Sunday of November, every four years.
Montreal stole the majority of the national headlines coming out of Quebec regarding the corruption of municipal officials, and graft and sleaze that has been rife across La Belle province.