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Key takeaways from election night in Quebec beyond Legault’s crushing win

François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec cruised to victory in Monday's election.

François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec cruised to victory in Monday's election.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

RCI

Province wakes up to a sea of CAQ powder blue and calls for electoral reform

To no one's surprise, François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec won a commanding majority in Monday's election.

The CAQ had won or was expected to win 89 out of 125 seats at the National Assembly, giving the party a strong mandate for the next four years.

But there are other important takeaways from election night.

Here are five.

Historic win

The CAQ, which was formed only 11 years ago, has cemented its place in Quebec politics with a second majority win. The party succeeded in winning an even larger share of seats with a brand of nationalism (new window) that eschewed the traditional debate over independence for a focus on Quebec identity and the strengthening of the French language.

It's the first time that a party other than the Liberals or the Parti Québécois has won consecutive elections in Quebec since 1956.

In his acceptance speech, Legault said he would focus on helping Quebecers cope with inflation, as well as growing a green economy and improving the province's education system and health-care network. He also vowed to be the premier of all Quebecers.

Red island in a sea of powder blue

The CAQ dominated rural and suburban ridings across the province, making for an electoral map composed almost entirely of the CAQ's powder blue. But the party again failed to make inroads on the island of Montreal.

The island remains largely Liberal red and Québec Solidaire orange. It is home to many anglophones and a diverse population opposed to the CAQ's language and secularism laws, and Legault's comments about immigrants (new window) during the campaign also angered many Montreal voters.

After the CAQ's win in 2018, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called on the government to prioritize public transit and protect the environment (new window). She is likely to do so again this week.

Liberals, PQ see their power diminished

The Liberals and the Parti Québécois, the main forces in provincial politics since the demise of the Union Nationale in 1970, saw their share of the vote further reduced on Monday. The Liberals were leading in 23 seats late Monday, down from 27 seats at dissolution, with a dismal showing among francophone voters.

The PQ were expected to win only three seats — down from seven — though leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was able to get a seat in the National Assembly. Both parties will need to rethink their approach — and how to wrest voters from the CAQ — if they hope to regain lost ground in the next election.

Québec Solidaire stands ground

Québec Solidaire has made steady gains since being founded in 2006. But the left-wing sovereignist party, fronted throughout the campaign by co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, failed to gain ground, holding steady with 11 seats. 

It was a disappointment for a party that had hopes of forming the Official Opposition and became Legault's primary target during the campaign.

In his concession speech, Nadeau-Dubois said he would press the CAQ to take a stronger position on environmental issues, the focus of his campaign. It is not too late to act. It is not too late to change our minds, he said.

Popular vote doesn't translate into seats

Four parties — the Liberals, PQ, QS and the upstart Conservative Party of Quebec — each had between 13 and 15 per cent of the vote.

But their seat share varied widely, from the Liberals with 23 to zero for the Conservatives, a rising right-wing party opposed to many pandemic public health restrictions.

Conservative Leader Eric Duhaime said the result was further evidence of the need for electoral reform. We are, in a certain way, stuck in the electoral distortion of the century, he said. Nadeau-Dubois and St-Pierre Plamondon also called attention to the issue. Rarely have we had such a disproportionate result, St-Pierre Plamondon said.

Legault had promised reforms during the 2018 campaign but abandoned the promise in his first mandate. He rejected (new window) calls for change during the campaign.

Benjamin Shingler (new window) · CBC News

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