THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
The result came without much suspense. Eight minutes after the opening of the first ballot boxes, the fate of this election was sealed. As predictable as it was impressive, a veritable Caquist tidal wave swept across Quebec. The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) obtained a second consecutive majority mandate, a feat that no other party had managed since 1998 and that no other leader had achieved since Robert Bourassa in 1989.
François Legault's resounding victory, with its 90 ridings, nevertheless conceals a democratic deficit. With 40.97% of the vote, the CAQ did better than in 2018 (37.42%), but worse than Philippe Couillard in 2014 (41.5%) or Jean Charest in 2008 (42%) and in 2003 (46%). On the other hand, he gets 72% of the ridings because of a fragmented opposition split into four. Contrary to what might have been expected due to the predictable outcome of the election and the low desire for change, the turnout was 66.05%, in the same range as 2018 (66.45%).
Despite a difficult election campaign, the momentum and the considerable lead enjoyed by François Legault allowed him to emerge unscathed. However, the vote count showed that the CAQ performed better in the advance polls and that the controversy involving minister Jean Boulet had a definite effect on the Liberal vote, which did not collapse as much as expected in the greater Montreal area. The CAQ won its bet to have elected members of the provincial legislature representing each of Quebec's 17 regions and the largest number of women.
In his victory speech, the re-elected premier wanted to show himself to be a unifier, since his campaign had given the impression of being divisive.
Despite the euphoria of victory that marked François Legault's evening, the re-elected premier woke up to a real headache. With such an impressive deputation composed of talented people from all regions, the formation of the next Cabinet promises to be complex. Expect an expanded Cabinet, larger than the 26 it had before the election was called, although the premier will certainly not want to emulate Bernard Landry, who chose 36 in 2002. On the other hand, three ministerial candidates (Caroline St-Hilaire, Jonathan Lapierre and Audrey Murray) have bit the dust.
What is the fate of the oppositions?
None of the opposition parties emerged during the election campaign. It is true that the Parti Québécois (PQ) had an interesting 6% increase in voting intentions, but its result remains marginal, far from the pay zone that would have allowed the PQ to win ridings. Despite a good campaign, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was mostly successful in the eyes of the public. The fact that he won his seat in Camille-Laurin, thanks to the withdrawal of the Québec solidaire (QS) candidate, allows him to remain at the head of his party despite a historic defeat.
The predicted sharp decline of the Liberals did not materialise. By winning 21 seats, maintaining her status as official opposition, and getting elected in her riding of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne, Dominique Anglade literally saved the day. Despite this, the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) has collapsed in the francophone vote, which suggests a long and difficult rebuilding process. As energetic and combative as Dominique Anglade was, the fact remains that her campaign was undermined by organisational problems, as if she were leading a derelict party with a damaged Liberal brand.
Québec solidaire, which had always made progress since the election of its first representative in 2008, maintained its gains. The defeat in Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue was offset by gains in Maurice-Richard and Verdun.
As for Éric Duhaime, he failed in his attempt to enter the National Assembly of Quebec, but he intends to run again in 2026. The PCQ received ten times more votes than in 2018, and its two candidates in Beauce-Nord and Beauce-Sud came close to being elected.
It is certain that many observers will want a revision of the voting system. François Legault, who made a promise to do so in 2018, closed the door on it during the campaign. It is a safe bet that the Liberals will agree with him, having themselves been favoured by the current system.