Politics | Has the PLQ lost its winning recipe?

Politics | Has the PLQ lost its winning recipe?
Politics | Has the PLQ lost its winning recipe?

The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) not only suffered a historic defeat in its stronghold of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne. He seems to have lost his winning recipe, the one that has allowed him to win 10 of the 18 general elections held since the Quiet Revolution.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

A fairly simple recipe: there are about thirty ridings in Quebec that have a substantial number of non-francophones and that are usually won over to the PLQ. With the worst result in their history, the Liberals had saved 20 in the last election.

This loyal electoral base gave the party an advantage over all its adversaries. Then, we did not have to win more than half of the remaining seats to obtain a majority government. There have always been enough French-speaking federalists to fill the gap.

In addition, the Anglophone community used to maintain a very high turnout, which allowed the PLQ to sometimes have a majority of votes, even without a majority of seats. This is what happened in 1998, which halted the Parti Québécois’ momentum towards a new referendum.

Fear or rejection of the idea of ​​a new sovereignty referendum was, directly or indirectly, always at the heart of the liberal message. When Jean Charest was its leader, it was said that all he had to do was say “referendum” to win the election.

It was a winning recipe, but it caused the PLQ to become a little complacent. If the electoral coffers were full, we did not take much time to give ourselves a very substantial program.

What happened this week in Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne shows that the recipe no longer works. And that should trigger an alarm signal to the PLQ.

With less than 30% of the vote, the PLQ finds itself with its worst result in the history of this riding that it has held since its creation. While everyone expected a merciless fight between the PLQ and Québec solidaire, it was quite the opposite. The majority of 2768 votes of the new MP is comfortable, given that it is a partial.

But this result also shows that even the base of Anglophone and allophone voters either voted for the first time for another party, or shunned the ballot box. In the end, a seat that had to be won in advance for the Liberals went to Québec solidaire. The PLQ can therefore no longer rely on an automatic vote from the English-speaking community.

It is as if the PLQ absolutely needed the “separatist” threat to ensure that it was relevant. Without this “best enemy”, it is very difficult for him to define himself. If he can no longer pretend to be the party of the economy or to be moderately progressive, then what is left to him?

There are several other lessons to be learned from this result. First of all, this victory for Québec solidaire is also that of a very competent candidate who is well rooted in the riding.

Every other party fielded someone who had bitten the dust in another riding in the general election last October. The voters of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne quickly saw that candidates had been parachuted into them and voted for the one who is part of the community. Like what having a deputy who knows his world well remains a value that has weight in politics.

For Québec solidaire (QS), the arrival of a 12e deputy is important since it gives it the status of a recognized political party in the National Assembly and we will no longer have to beg for privileges, we will assert rights.

But the effect of this victory for QS should not be overstated. Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne remains a riding on the island of Montreal and there is no reason to believe that this victory will allow the left-wing party to make gains outside of Montreal, or even in its remaining large suburbs. the preserve of the Coalition avenir Québec.

As for the PLQ, the result of this by-election risks further reducing the possibility of an outside candidate showing interest in the Liberal leadership. And it would be the worst thing to have another coronation when you know how much the absence of a leadership race ended up harming Dominique Anglade.

We will therefore have to deal with the current elected officials, and even for them, the result is not encouraging. Interim leader – and potential leadership candidate – Marc Tanguay has been working hard, spending almost all of his spare time in the riding, but with no tangible results.

He was quick to claim the result was a failure, but it’s not yet clear what lessons he learned from it. But, one thing is certain, he has certainly not found the recipe that will bring back to the Liberal Party those who have always been his electoral base.

The article is in French

Tags: Politics PLQ lost winning recipe

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