TU THANH HA
The Globe and Mail
The Parti Québécois’ hopes of rekindling the sovereignty debate by using wedge politics was strongly rejected by Quebeckers Monday night, as voters gave the Liberals a majority government.
The Liberals’ success capped a scorched-earth election campaign that featured mud-slinging, referendum rhetoric and much turbulence over identity, language and ethics.
Summary returns from the chief electoral officer had the Liberals with almost half of the popular vote and were leading in 75 of 125 ridings as of 9 p.m. ET. They need only 63 to form a majority government. The Parti Québecois was leading in only 28 ridings and had 26.6 per cent of the vote.
Early returns tend to skew Liberal because a large part come from urban ridings and advance polling. Nevertheless, the lead was clear enough that, by 8:30 p.m., both CBC and CTV were already predicting a Liberal victory.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, who took a personal gamble by running in the traditionally Péquiste riding of Roberval, was expected to carry his district.
François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, which had hoped of overtaking the PQ, remaining in third position, according to early returns.
A month ago, PQ Leader Pauline Marois started with high hopes she could clinch a majority after 18 months of minority government. She even talked of tabling a white paper to assess Quebec’s future.
Instead, her campaign unravelled from the moment she unveiled star candidate Pierre Karl Péladeau, whose fist-pumping declaration of allegiance to Quebec sovereignty played into the Liberals’ strategy.