06 September 2012

Québec . . . encore une fois

The voters of Québec went to the polls two days ago and brought the Parti québécois back to power for the first time since 2003. Its leader Pauline Marois thus becomes premier of the province and leader of a minority PQ government. Her Liberal predecessor, Jean Charest, lost his own seat and quickly resigned his leadership of the Parti libéral du Québec. According to the province's chief electoral officer, the PQ won 54 seats with 31.94% of the popular vote, the PLQ won 50 seats with 31.21%, the Coalition Avenir Québec won 19 seats with 27.06%, and Québec solidaire 2 seats with 6.03%. Total voter turnout was 74.61% of those eligible.

The main thing to be noted about these results is that the PQ and the PLQ were virtually tied in the popular vote, each winning less than a third of the total popular vote. Coalition Avenir Québec (Coalition for the Future of Quebec) trailed the other two parties by only 4 points yet won far fewer seats. This means that 23.83% of the province's eligible voters have, at least potentially, put the national unity issue back on the front burner for all of us. If Québec had some form of proportional representation in place, there would be two likely effects: (1) no party would have been capable of governing on its own, thus necessitating the formation of a coalition government of at least two parties and thereby softening the separatist influence; and (2) voter turnout would likely have been higher, as the risk of wasted votes is lower.

It's past time for electoral reform in this country.

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