03/09/2015 04:05 EDT | Updated 05/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Greg Selinger Back To Work After Barely Surviving Leadership Vote

WINNIPEG - After barely surviving a leadership vote, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger joked about finally being able to catch up on some laundry and housework.

But the premier who garnered just 51 per cent support from delegates on Sunday has a much greater challenge — reuniting a party that has been badly divided in time for next year's election.

"The work starts again," Selinger told a crowd at the party's leadership convention Sunday. "Once we get it back together, we'll be out there right away ... serving the people of Manitoba."

Selinger barely beat his former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald in a leadership race prompted by an internal party revolt. Oswald and four other senior cabinet ministers resigned in October after calling publicly for Selinger to step down.

Although Selinger led the party to its fourth straight majority in 2011, he has faced public anger and sagging opinion polls since raising the provincial sales tax to eight per cent from seven in 2013 after promising not to.

Despite the slim margin of victory, Selinger made no public overtures or concessions to his critics. The party will come together, as it has in the past, to fight the next election, he said.

"I've been in lots of tough situations in my life and I've always found a way to make it better," Selinger told reporters Sunday. "That's exactly what I've done here and I know we can make it better starting tomorrow."

Both Oswald, and challenger Steve Ashton who dropped off the first ballot, pledged to work to unite the party but Oswald wouldn't say whether she would run again in the next election.

Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said he's glad the "circus is packing up and leaving town," but said the NDP has shown it can't give voters the change they desire.

"The NDP went into this process divided and I would submit they are coming out even more divided," he said following the vote Sunday. "That's a cause for concern."

Others in Pallister's caucus had another take.

"If there is one take away from today, don't underestimate Greg Selinger," tweeted MLA Shannon Martin.

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Canadian Politicians' Uncanny Lookalikes See Gallery