With the election last night, the story of the highly contested provincial election in Quebec has been written. Sadly, the conclusion was one of violence, with an apparent assassination attempt on Parti Québécois leader, and Premier-Elect, Pauline Marois. While a PQ victory was widely predicted, the slim margin of victory (54 Seats) surprised many. Similarly, the Liberal’s performance (50 Seats) was much better than expected and the upstart Coalition Avenir Québec (19 Seats) failed to live up to high expectations set early in the campaign. Despite the difference in seats, the popular vote was much closer, with only 4.8% separating the PQ and CAQ.
With no strong mandate for the PQ, the question of sovereignty in Quebec will likely remain in the background and is unlikely to emerge in provincial negotiations with Ottawa. Ideally, the new government should focus on Quebec’s continually faltering economy, as opposed to other issues relating to immigration and language, which are of relatively less importance. However, that remains to be seen, and I am less than hopeful that the PQ will have a positive impact on Quebec’s economy. That said, with the combined strength of the Liberals and CAQ, it is unlikely that the government will be able to institute any long term policies damaging growth. Look for a somewhat muted budget from the new government, reneging on campaign promises pertaining to raising taxes and changes to resource royalties. Over the coming months it will be interesting to see if there is a large number of Anglophones leaving the province, as many promised to do if a PQ government was elected. If this is, in fact, the case, it could further challenge Quebec’s faltering economy.
Going forward, Marois will have to moderate the xenophobic elements of her party if she hopes to reinstate a prolonged period of PQ rule. While these shallow appeals to emotion may have lingered for the 35 day campaign, they are not acceptable in a government. Similarly, after promising to suspend the proposed tuition hikes and repeal the law instituted to deal with student protests, she will have to deal with the reality that tuition cannot stay at artificially low levels forever. This is particularly true in a have-not province like Quebec.
For the time being, the extreme sentiments voiced during the election may have been muted, and perhaps politics in Quebec can begin to experience a degree of civility not seen in quite some time. For those of you that, like me, are disappointed with the election results take solace in the fact that some 68% of Quebecers didn’t vote for the PQ. If it’s applicable federally, it works for provincial politics too, right?
All figures courtesy of http://www.threehundredeight.com/