The Pauline Marois’ challenges

As the opinion polls planned, the Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois (PQ) won the legislative elections in Quebec, allowing a come-back of the separatists to power after nine years in the opposition. Jean Charest, the outgoing liberal Prime minister, announced his resignation as Quebec’s Liberal Party (QLP) Leader and his leaving of politics after near thirty years at the federal then provincial stage.

PQ activists celebrating their victory during in the Métropolis, at Montreal, the 4th of september

The PQ victory was mourned by an attack made by Richard Henry Bain, a-63-year-old-anglophone who tried to put fire in the Metropolis, the venue where the Pauline Marois supporters were present, and shoot down two people whom one is deceased because of his injuries. This event cast a chill over the PQ activists’ euphoria when they were celebrating the victory, and puts forward the interrogations and the concerns of some Anglophones Quebecois as far as the future PQ’s policy towards them is concerned but also vis-à-vis the gnawing issue on the independence of Quebec, which should be debated in the upcoming years, once again.

The PQ comes back to power and her leader, Pauline Marois, becomes the first woman to be Prime minister of Quebec. Aged of 63, this is a genuine consecration for a woman who worked hard to get the leadership of her party and be the leader. Now Premier, Pauline Marois is aware of the lot of challenges which are expecting her and her task will be harsher than planned.

Pauline Marois, PQ leader and Prime-minister elect of Quebec, delivering her speech of victory in the Métropolis, Montreal, the 4th of september

In fact, with a relative majority and a minority government, the Pauline Marois’s room for manoeuvre seems very thin, because of the political weight of the Coalition of the future of Quebec party of François Legault who snatched 20 seats at the Quebec National Assembly, but especially due to the weight for the QLP who got 50 MPs (only 54 for the PQ) and will be a strong official opposition to the PQ government, in spite of the Jean Charest’s defeat and his withdrawal of politics. Pauline Marois warned during the campaign: with a minority government, her ways to act would be limited, which should have an impact on the policy she wishes to lead in the upcoming weeks and months.

Thus, if the Prime minister-elect seems to have printed her mark on some subjects (as the future cancellation of the students fee increasing) already, the PQ leader knows that she will have to be diplomatic and find compromises on other subjects, in order not to undergo (too much) the assaults of an opposition who is going to destabilize for sure.

Pauline Marois should probably put aside (for the moment) the independence of Quebec issue. Indeed, the last Tuesday electoral results less indicated a will of the Quebecois to opt for the independence than a will to sanction a liberal government worn down by nine years of power. Moreover, if the sanction happened, especially for Jean Charest, it was finally less bad than planned for the QLP which can hope a quick come-back to power, due to the CAQ who made less good results in spite of a dynamic campaign.

All is going to depend on the capacity of Pauline Marois to manage this situation, leading and targeting her objectives, in the same time. To be clear, this is a preliminary period for the new government of Quebec leader but also for the PQ which will have to show they can be a real guarantee for the future of the French-speaking province of Canada. So, the next weeks will be determinant for Pauline Marois who has now a new objective, a majority government for the next election, sine qua none condition before thinking about a new referendum on the independence, after the 1980 and 1995 rejections.