Losing all in a month while everything was under control. This last night, the Parti quebecois was hugely defeated in early provincial elections, called by her leader Pauline Marois.
This is a complete debacle for the outgoing Prime minister of Quebec who bet on these elections to get a mandate and an absolute majority at the Quebec’s National Assembly. With only 25% of the votes and about thirty representatives, the PQ makes a very bad performance, which is probably causing a crisis within the sovereignty movement. The PQ is even closely followed by François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, the centre-right movement who got 22% about twenty representatives, confirming the strategy defended by his leader, a third way between federalism and sovereignty to Quebecers.
Pauline Marois is sanctioned for her lack of clearness regarding the prospect of a referendum about the independence of Quebec and the Charter of values defending a secular Quebec but seen as a threat most Quebec citizens coming from the immigration, as the Maghreb community for Instance. Just after the announcement of the results, Pauline Marois, defeated in her own constituency, assumed the defeat and left the PQ leadership. A new race to succeed her is now open and there will probably be a huge competition between Bernard Drainville, Jean-François Lisée and Pierre-Karl Péladeau, the businessman and current Québécor CEO who should have been the now ex-PM strategic card.
On its side, the Quebec’s Liberal Party makes a huge and unexpected victory, eighteen months after losing his majority and the resignation of his leader at that time, Jean Charest. The 56-year-neurosurgeon used the opposition of some Quebecers about the Charter of values and expresses his rejection of the Quebec independence in spite of some cases of corruption. The Marois government finally has been a holy period for the QLP who comes back to power and ensures the Rest of Canada, the probability of a third referendum going away in a long term.
I have to confess I’m very surprised by these results as I followed the campaign when I was there on the last month. While the Liberals seemed to be idealess and the PQ in strong position to get a new mandate, Quebecers finally sent Pauline Marois a clear message: no way for a third referendum, which finally was the main issue during the election. To my mind, Philippe Couillard enjoyed the Marois’ hesitations and the reluctance of a part of the population to deal with economy and jobs. Dealing with independence and underestimating the Quebecers current priorities and his challengers too, the PQ who got a relative majority at the National Assembly, underwent a boomerang effect it will have difficulties to recover. Nonetheless, it is too soon to conclude the sovereignty project is no longer in the agenda. All is going to depend on the way the Quebecers independents will be able to renew their speech and create a new interest for the future of a free Quebec, which supposes to reconsider his relationship with some Quebecers who has the feeling to be betrayed, with the Charter of values.
A referendum and the resentments regarding the Charter of values have been enough the Parti Quebecois goes back to the benches of the opposition and allows the Liberals to come back. Quebec and Canada avoided a new political crisis, the question now is how the federal government is going to consider the francophone province in the next weeks and months.