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:
Other coverage of the Quebec elections: