Speaker Gene Zwozdesky decided on Tuesday to allow the Wildrose Party to keep its status as the official opposition in Alberta's legislature.

“Based on a thorough review of authorities and precedents across Canada, I have determined that incumbency is the key factor in the case of a tie and that the Wildrose caucus shall continue as the Official Opposition,” said Speaker Zwozdesky.

Last week, the leaders of both the Liberals and the NDP lashed out at the floor crossing of nine Wildrose MLAs, including former leader Danielle Smith, calling the move a ‘betrayal’ and condemning it as undemocratic.

The Wildrose have five members, the Liberals have five members, the New Domocrats have four members and there is one independent in the legislature.

Zwozdesky stated in his five-page decision letter that, "when faced with the issue of designating an Official Opposition in the event of a tie in caucus standings during the life of a Legislature, the key factor is incumbency or, put another way, which caucus was previously the Official Opposition.”

Wildrose House Leader Shayne Saskiw released a statement on the announcement saying :

“We want to thank the Speaker for his ruling affirming the Wildrose as Alberta’s Official Opposition.

“Given prior precedent, it is our belief this ruling strengthens our democracy.  In the last election, over 440,000 Albertans overwhelmingly voted for the Wildrose to be their voice in the Legislature, a strong mandate neither the third nor the fourth parties received.

“Under our new Leader, Albertans will see a rejuvenated opposition that will never give up the fight for Alberta. We remain strong, capable and determined as ever.”

Click HERE to read the decision letter or scroll the document below.