The landscape of the 2022 Quebec elections

Voting day for the Quebec election will be Monday, October 3, 2022 and the election will be called on Sunday August 28. With the pre-campaign in full swing, several parties have begun to unveil their election platforms and make announcements. Here's a quick snapshot of where things stand.

Coalition Avenir Québec

According to Qc125, polls place the CAQ in a strong lead over the opposition parties, with 43% of voting intentions, which would allow it to elect 96 MNAs in 125 ridings. Unless there is a major turnaround in the campaign, the question for the party is how strong its majority will be. The appointment of ministers will be difficult for François Legault, with the announcement of several quality candidates.

Right now, the CAQ would virtually wipe the Parti Québécois off the map and even make gains in historically Liberal ridings in Laval, Montreal and the Outaouais, while being competitive in some ridings held by Québec Solidaire. The CAQ is expected to continue its recapture of the PQ and QLP electorate by focusing on both identity and economic issues. Its slogan, “Let’s Keep Going” (“Continuons”), speaks to the continuation of the changes made since 2018 that were slowed by the pandemic.

Quebec Liberal Party

The Quebec Liberal Party has been in disarray since the 2018 election. It has not known how to position itself in the new political spectrum following the paradigm shift from the federalism/independence axis to the classic left/right axis. The QLP waltzed with nationalism before returning to its roots in the face of discontent among anglophones and allophones, its acquired electorate when it appeared to support Bill 96 on the French language in Quebec.

The QLP currently has the support of one out of ten francophone voters, with 18% of voting intentions and a projected 18 MNAs. The CAQ risks taking away many ridings with a majority of the francophone electorate. Even Dominique Anglade, the party leader, is not immune to losing her seat of Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne. The key for the QLP is to position itself in the face of the 2018 political realignment to convince francophones that it represents a compelling alternative. Once the party of the economy, the QLP seems to be refocusing to the left, as with the eternal commitment to provide a family doctor to all Quebecers or the granting of 215$ for the purchase of school supplies. In the meantime, it must protect its gains in the greater Montreal area.

Québec Solidaire

Polls indicate that Québec Solidaire may have reached its ceiling in the 2018 election. Since its founding, QS has made steady gains and has never lost a seat. Its ridings in Rouyn-Noranda, Sherbrooke and Jean-Lesage in Quebec City are up for grabs against the CAQ, which came close to winning them in 2018. The appointment of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois as party leader seems to be appreciated by the electorate, as he would represent the 2nd best premier and the party would garner 16% of voting intentions among Francophones.

QS would garner 15% of voting intentions and would win 9 ridings as of today. The party could steal the title of official opposition from the QLP as it better fits into the paradigm shift advocated since 2018 and performs better among Francophones. However, its growth potential appears limited and nearly one in two of its voters could vote for another party by the election. QS is decidedly left-leaning and performs well among young and urban constituencies. It should focus its campaign on the environment, social measures and Quebec independence. Its slogan, “Changing Era” (“Changer d’ère”), contrasts its progressive policies with those of the previous government.

Parti Québécois

Like the QLP, the Parti Québécois has been searching for its place since 2018. Several of its star MNAs have announced that they will not seek re-election. The PQ has put forward its purpose with the electorate, the Quebec independence, but it has difficulty establishing itself in the media cycle. Only one riding is secured (Matane-Matapedia) while it will fight to save the others in the regions.

The PQ would receive 10% of voting intentions and would elect only two MNAs next fall. Its voting intentions have been steadily declining for nearly 25 years, and the party has lost the identity issue to the CAQ. The party is in danger of continuing its decline, as it has difficulty recruiting quality candidates. The new leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is struggling to make his mark. The PQ will make the case for Quebec’s independence and its advantages over the federal system and the federalism of François Legault.

Parti Conservateur du Québec

The Quebec Conservative Party has been around since 2009, but really entered the Quebec political landscape with the pandemic in 2020 and then crystallized its position with the election of former radio host Éric Duhaime as leader in 2021. The party has grown dramatically in funding and membership, and its support is mostly concentrated in the greater Quebec City area, although it does well with English-speaking voters.

The Party wants to give a voice to voters disillusioned with the system but especially with the CAQ’s management of the pandemic while promoting libertarian positions strongly inspired by the ADQ, present from 1994 to 2012. With 13% of voting intentions and strong support in the Quebec City region, it can hope to take three ridings from the CAQ (Beauce-Norrd, Beauce-Sud, Chauveau). His positions also force the CAQ to watch its right flank, as it has recently promised to reduce the tax burden of Quebecers. The PCQ’s slogan ” Free at home” (“Libres chez nous”) is a historical nod to the early days of the Quiet Revolution when it now evokes the idea that the province’s sanitary measures and tax burden are crushing its citizens’ freedom.

Conclusion

Only the CAQ (76 seats) and the PCQ (1 seat) are expected to increase or maintain their share seats, while the QLP (27 seats), QS (10 seats) and the PQ (7 seats) are likely to see theirs decrease. The CAQ is expected to see some of its electorates migrate to the PCQ because of the management of the pandemic while rallying QLP and PQ voters. QS should also see some of its anti-system electorates join the PCQ. The key issues of the 2022 campaign should be the management of the pandemic and the health care system, the environment and climate change, the economy and labour shortage, and identity issues.

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