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The elephant is among us

Figures show that fear of a referendum was 
the dominant factor in the Quebec election

by Jean-François Lisée

12_Pierre-Karl-Pyladeau_facebookWhat lessons can be drawn from the electoral earthquake of April 7? Before we construct political hypotheses, we need to look at the figures (table 1). They are eloquent.

  1. There were only 100,000 more voters than in 2012. It was essentially within the existing electorate that variations occurred.
  2. There are several things to notice in these figures:

There was a move from the PQ to the Liberals among francophones.

  1. The CAQ vote declined relative to 2012. François Legault did not make any progress with the voters.
  2. Québec Solidaire made only modest gains, which can, in theory, be almost entirely explained by a move to QS by people who voted Option Nationale in 2012.
  3. The major fact of the election is thus the shift of the francophone vote, throughout Quebec, from the PQ to the Liberals. An extremely strong signal.

The second major fact is the CAQ’s inability to attract a single new voter. On the contrary, the CAQ lost 17 per cent of its 2012 vote. This reality was masked by the CAQ’s decline before the campaign and then its partial recovery during the campaign. But it signifies that the CAQ, like the PQ, appears to be structurally condemned to a stretch in opposition.

The third major fact is the absence of a shift from the PQ to Québec Solidaire, despite the arrival of Pierre Karl Péladeau. There was no hemorrhage of left-wing Péquistes. This reality was masked by QS’s gain of one seat (for a total of three), won narrowly in east-end Montreal. 

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About the Author

Jean-Francois Lisee
Jean-François Lisée is executive director of the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM).


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