Thursday, 30 August 2012

PQ set for majority?

The latest polls in the increasingly bitter Quebec 2012 election show Parti Quebecois support holding up and suggests they may just achieve the majority they seek.
If they do succeed then the march to a fresh referendum on Quebec independence will be started.
However there are a few days campaigning to go and with PQ sitting on 33% in the latest poll followed by the incumbent Liberals on 28% and the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) on 27% there is all to play for.
Reports continue to say that Liberal Leader Jean Charest is vulnerable in his home riding. This may raise a question of whether the Liberals standing in the polls is higher than it will be on polling day?
Perhaps when Quebeckers go to the poll on September 4 there will be a shift towards the PQ and CAQ at the expense of the Liberals. That could leave the Liberals facing a wipe out similar to the one that swept away years of Liberal power in neighbouring Ontario in 1990. The increasingly bitter fight between the PQ and CAQ could benefit the Liberals by deflecting attention from their record. The spat between PQ Leader Marois and CAQ Leader Legault is personal - both are former ministers in the last PQ government - and this exchange of invective may well put voters off. Allied to that the PQ have worried anglophone and allophone voters with their policy on the french language.
With all this heat at the front of the contest perhaps the smaller parties will make an impact and end up holding the balance of power. Both Quebec Solidaire and Option Nationale  have picked up percentage points in the latest poll. The challenge to them is to keep momentum, be heard above the noise of the big parties and ultimately win a significant number of seats between them to provide bargaining options. There is unlikely to be a formal coalition though as Quebec Solidaire have ruled out a deal with the PQ while Option Nationale leader Jean-Martin Aussant is another former PQer and colleague of Marois who left and formed Option Nationale after disagreements with her leadership. He also has no love for CAQ and Legault whose politics he's described as 'populism of the worst kind'. Aussant has recently gained the support of former PQ Premier Jacques Parizeau who led the PQ during the last sovereignty referendum.
It's an interesting mix that will make for a tense last few days of campaigning.

More on Quebec Solidaire and Option Nationale
Quebec Solidaire
Option Nationale

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Parti Quebecois heading for minority government? Polls,predictions and social media in the Quebec Provincial Election 2012

 Is the Quebec sovereignty question about to be reignited with a Parti Quebecois victory in Quebec's provincial elections? The answer is not clear at present. PQ Leader Pauline Marois made a plea at the weekend for an outright victory, saying a minority government would not allow the policies she stands for to be fully implemented. Code for a referendum on Quebec's future.
The polls are tight showing Marois's PQ ahead in the latest poll on 33% but with Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) rising to 28% (from 12% at the start of the campaign) and the incumbent Liberals sliding to 27%. So it's nip and tuck at the top and all to play for as the contest enters its final week.
It would appear that the final result is the PQ's to lose though most pollsters and commentators seems to think the PQ will emerge the biggest party and form a minority government perhaps with support from the sovereigntist and leftist Quebec Solidaire.  
The PQ and the Liberals are the big beasts of Quebec elections with power switching between them regularly over the past few decades. The Liberals are in trouble with the taint of corruption over government contracts surrounding them. Their leader Jean Charest seems set to lose his riding (constituency). He’s a mercurial character who as a Federal Tory withstood the meltdown of Kim Campbell’s Progressive Conservatives in 1993. Ironically that political abyss for the Conservatives came about in the wake of the failure of former PM Brian Mulroney’s Meech Lake agreement that saw a huge rise in nationalist support in Quebec with the Bloc Quebecois being formed to contest Federal Elections (indeed they did so well they formed the official opposition in Ottawa) and the return of Parti Quebecois to power in Quebec’s National Parliament and the subsequent sovereignty referendum of 1995.
Marois has declared that the PQ would seek a fresh referendum if successful on September 4th. That’s why she doesn’t want a minority government as it would weaken the mandate.
However given the circumstances of the election – the Liberals corruption allegations and the growth in support for Coalition Avenir Quebec who, though led by former PQ minister Francois Legault, have distanced themselves from the sovereignty question it may be that minority government is what Quebec faces come September 5th.
While a majority is what the PQ say they are looking for a period in minority may actually be the best option. Marois  may do worse that share a conversation with Alex Salmond Scotland’s First Minister who lead the ScottishNational Party (SNP) to minority government in 2007 shelving a referendum on Scottish Independence on the way only to win an outright victory in 2011 embarking on a referendum campaign.
It could be that steady as she goes could be the best strategy for the PQ and they play the longer game gaining support of Quebecers whether Francophone, Anglophone or Allophone with competent government first then winning a majority to pursue an independent Quebec. 

Social Media in the #Quebecelection

Everyone says social media is an important tool in elections these days and I've had a quick glance at the followers of the parties contesting the Quebec election.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the PQ top both the Facebook and Twitter counts with 62766 and 19093 respectively and surprisingly the Liberals on only 6253 FB and 10033 on twitter. CAQ come in on 8105 FB and 10998 twitter with the left/green/feminist Quebec Solidaire on an impressive 17343 FB and 19122 twitter.
The fledgling sovereigntist Option Nationale sit on 23454 FB and 11435 twitter with the Parti Vert du Quebec (Greens) on 1648 FB and 1979 twitter.
So perhaps no surprise PQ are solid front runners. The Liberals are out of favour so maybe that is reflected in their poor showing. The surprise is that CAQ are doing so poorly on social media despite the surge in support evident in the polls. Both Quebec Solidaire and Option Nationale have impressive totals though neither seem to be on the verge of any real breakthough electorally according to the polls. Their social media presence could be down to the wave of student unrest in Quebec at present - something to do with student finance and tuition fees - that has not been handled well by either Charest, Legault or Marois. 

Other coverage of the Quebec elections: