Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Post-Election

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Post-Election

Article excerpt

Post-election news coverage in Quebec spent a lot of time discussing the tribulations of the Parti Quebecois, which on March 26 suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1976. Andre Boisclair has finally thrown in the towel, faced with general grumbling about his leadership. Gilles Duceppe, perceived by some as the "new saviour," had to withdraw his candidacy after 24 hours when it became clear that Pauline Marois had double his support, as much within the party as among the general public.

Two years ago, many PQ activists preferred the image of a young man (whose message wasn't widely accepted) to a person who is without a doubt Quebec's most experienced political personality. Today, they are calling out in chorus that "it's Pauline's turn, now!" PQ parliamentarians would like the party to "correct its [leadership] mistake" in time for the autumn session, thereby preparing the party to return to power in the next election--not likely to be far off, given the context of the minority government.

But in reality, it's not so simple. The PQ is not only in a leadership crisis. It is in a structural crisis. This coalition party was founded in the sixties, when the national project was easily tied to the progressive social measures it was able to bring forward. But since the rise of neoliberalism the Left and the Right have grown further and further apart, including within the sovereignty movement. This split has also been developing within the PQ, despite a progressive caucus's (SPQL's) efforts to rejuvenate the party's spirit from the 1960s.

On another level, the PQ'S two referendum defeats have not yet taught it any lessons in terms of strategy. The same old stories get repeated about the date for a future referendum, or about the necessary "winning conditions."

Even worse, the PQ has lost the initiative on the national question. The Liberal Party made the national question its battle horse, leading to the recognition of the Quebec nation--probably only symbolic, but still! …

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