Who could have thought that the division and hatred that the Parti Québécois was stirring during the past 18 months would end up dividing their own voter base and serve to rally the 67% that did not vote for them in 2012? Who could have thought that 10% of Quebec voters can transfer from one party to another in a matter of a week?
With the changing popular mood and recent polls in the province anything seems possible for Quebec. Along with the two most likely scenarios of a PLQ minority or majority government, comes the very real possibility of an official opposition of the CAQ buoyed by a wave of popular concern over the state of the economy, corruption and public expenditures.
With April 7th a restless sleep away, it is becoming clear that Quebecers want to end the duopoly and division that has crippled their public governance for decades. But will they, have the courage to risk their vote to make real change? But also, it is also becoming clear from recent elections and polls that we must denounce the injustice of the current electoral system. Stuck in a system that plays to the winner and rewards ‘strategic voting’, the citizens should push for a reform that will finally unable them to vote for the party that represents them the best, instead of voting against the party they hate the most.
When Quebecers voted in 2012, they voted against Jean Charest, not for Pauline Marois. In fact, the PQ won less popular support in 2012 than in 2008. Still they managed, as they have in the past, to forma government, much more a product of ‘vote splitting’’ and an undemocratic electoral system than their popularity. As a result, many don’t even see the point of voting at all. It’s no wonder; 70% of our votes end up in the garbage at the borough level. While it will be interesting to see how this rightful cynicism plays to the “PartiNul”, simply not showing up does nothing to solve the problem. Citizens have the responsibility (not just the right) to vote, and if they are not happy with the system then they should make sure their concerns are heard. In 2012, we were careful to give the PQ no more than a minority government and put the CAQ in the balance of power. But the PQ has not respected that choice since their arrival in power, and it appears that they will pay a dear price for it.
The PQ plan seemed to have been:
1. To create division and instability between the francophones and the non-francophones by giving disproportionate attention to topics they disagree on, even if it is not the province’s general priority.
2. To trigger elections by tabling outrageous laws, refusing to cooperate with anyone and then pleading to the Lieutenant Governor that it is the fault of the other parties.
3. To shoot the moon for a majority.
The problem with ‘shooting the moon’, though, is that odds are that you will lose big. For two years we’ve seen their divisive and manipulative tactics unfold before our eyes. But Quebecers are anything but political dupes. I have a feeling that as they go to polls on Monday, Quebecers will demonstrate that they’ve had had enough. And will, despite their well-founded cynicism.
Is the PQ so detached that they haven’t realized that Quebecers did not want to give them a majority in the first place? After their performance of the last 18 months, what would make them think they’ve anything but a much worse chance to gain a majority?
Have they not seen how Quebecers can change their vote ‘en masse’ on Election Day and flush a party they find no longer relevant?
Something that seemed impossible a month ago seems more and more probable today.
What is left to see is if Quebecers will once again tell the old parties that they do not trust them with a majority government, or that they will hand 100% of the power to a government with no more than 40% of the popular vote.