Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP), a progressive, democratic-socialist federal party, has made history with its newly-elected leader. Jagmeet Singh is the first non-white federal leader in Canadian politics. What does this mean for Canada, and the eventual election in 2019?

Stunning victory

The vote was to take place on a ranked ballot. Voters ranked their choices from 1-4, and if no one reached 50% of votes in the first round, the candidate with the least amount of votes would have their votes redistributed to the second choices.

Singh was in no way expected to take the leadership easily; leadership contender Charlie Angus was expected to put up a fight, with more second-ballot support.

But Singh stunned everyone when he won easily on the first ballot, gaining roughly 53% of the vote share.

Singh’s victory is stunning historically as well. No person of color has ever won federal leadership in Canada before. By getting past that hurdle, Jagmeet Singh has opened the door for similar feats from other worthy Canadians now. Canada could be entering a new age in politics.

The 2019 election

The hard part begins now. Jagmeet Singh will have to face off with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019 and convince voters why he and the NDP would be a better choice. Justin Trudeau now has the advantage of experience, and his image is still strong, but Singh could provide a real challenge to that image.

Jagmeet Singh has also been on magazine covers. He is a handsome man who wears nice suits and is kind and progressive; he is, in short, everything Justin Trudeau has been portraying himself as for the last few years.

If Singh excites enough voters to switch from the Liberals to the NDP, we could see a significant victory for him in 2019.

Singh has also been accused of being too centrist, however. If enough in the NDP feel he does not represent their more progressive and leftist views, they may be tempted to stay home, which could cost the new leader valuable support. Singh will need to balance his progressive chops with the perceived need to be close to the center and capture more votes from the center

Another possibility is more dangerous for the left, of course.

If Singh pulls enough support away from Trudeau, the progressive vote could be split and allow Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives to form government.

The election in 2019 depends a lot on Jagmeet Singh’s performance. Will he be up to the challenge?