With the election campaign beginning Thursday, Philippe Couillard–incumbent prime minister and leader of the provincial Liberal party–hopes to form a second majority government come election day October 1. The election campaign, which was announced earlier this month at a youth Liberal congress, will be the first fixed-election in the history of the province, due to a law passed in 2013 by a minority Parti Québecois government.
The election looks to be historic for a number of reasons. It may be the first time a party other than the Parti Québecois (PQ) or the Liberals form a majority government since 1966. The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)–a centre-right nationalist party founded by former PQ minister François Legault–is poised to attain power. The party holds an important lead in voter intentions, polling at 36%, as opposed to the 29% held by the Liberal Party of Québec, the 18% held by the sovereigntist Parti Québecois, and the 11% held by the left-wing Québec Solidaire.
Slogan: Pour faciliter la vie des Québécois (“Make life easier for Québecers”)
The Liberals hope to build on their four year mandate, which included balancing the provincial budget as well overseeing significant job gains in the private and public sector. Couillard hopes to run the campaign with a “smile,” although the party’s campaign president, Alexandre Taillefer, has described rival François Legault as a “threat to social peace.”
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The Liberals have stumbled frequently before the launch of the election, including controversially replacing 24-year party-veteran Francis Ouimet for hockey player Enrico Ciccone, after having promised the former that he would retain his seat in the safe Liberal riding of Marquette.
Slogan: Maintenant (“Now”)
The CAQ hopes to maintain the momentum it created since winning the former Liberal riding of Louis-Hébert in a by-election last year. Legault has recruited several star candidates for the party, including Jonatan Julien, a popular city-councillor of Québec city who recently denounced Québec mayor Régis Labeaume for his abrasive leadership style.
Among various electoral proposals, the CAQ has promised to break a widely-unpopular deal signed by Couillard’s Liberals to give a pay increase to Québec’s specialist doctors and general practitioners.
The CAQ hopes to embody the popular will for political change. They are supported by poll numbers, which show that 63% of Québecers desire a change in government. The slogan “maintenant” refers to the will for immediate change after virtually 15 years of Liberal power.
Slogan: Sérieusement (“Seriously”)
With 18% in the polls, the Parti Québecois aims to reassert itself as the alternative choice to a Liberal government. As a result, the slogan winks in a comical manner to the idea that the party wants to be taken “seriously.”
However, since Jean-François Lisée’s rise as leader of the party in 2016, the party has consistently been losing support in the polls to the CAQ and Québec Solidaire.
Unlike the CAQ, the PQ proposes a social-democratic, “strong-state” agenda that would lead to no tax-cuts or tax increases. The party has promised to delay plans for sovereignty until a potential second majority-government mandate in 2022.
However, the party looks to suffer serious electoral losses. At its current level of support, the party would only hold 8 seats, as opposed to the 28 seats it won in the 2014 election.
Slogan: Populaire (“Popular”)
Québec Solidaire (QS)–a relatively new left-wing sovereignist party formed in 2006–has its base of support largely concentrated in Montréal. With its slogan “populaire,” referring to the “popular” economic class, it hopes to attract Québecers who live in the province’s regions.
Among its various electoral promises, the party has proposed a popular universal dental insurance plan. With 11% in the polls, it poses a serious threat to the PQ who also holds a social-democratic platform. Earlier this year, Québec Solidare fused with sovereigntist party Option Nationale, making QS an attractive alternative to the Parti Québecois for left-wing sovereigntists.
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