Just how big is Quebec’s shift away from the right wing? Pretty big

Given the recent provincial by-election results in the province of Quebec, bloggers and politicians everywhere have been talking about the results and their implications.

As with any event, it helps to actually review what happened and then, based on this, generate an analysis.  If we do it the other way around, we risk being like a Conservative cabinet minister who, during a Question Period session shortly after the by-elections, tried to ridicule Gilles Duccepe by saying that the by-elections were a huge victory federalists and a huge defeat for the PQ.  (I don’t remember which Tory cabinet minister it was who said it, but I remember being shocked when I heard it).

In fact, contrary to the Tories’ contention, both the by-election results and the recent provincial polling results show a rather different story.

First, the by-election results.

Simply put, the Tories’ closest provincial ally, the ADQ, witnessed a staggering collapse.  This is rather significant since the far-right ADQ is lead by Mario Dumont, a man who attracted the attention of the international press in 2007 and who was (appropriately, in my opinion) called “Canada’s Le Pen” by the U.K.-based newspaper The Independent (source).

In the three by-election ridings, the ADQ’s support collapsed to just over 1/3 of their formerly mighty self.  Now, even though none of these ridings were strong ADQ ridings, nothing I think could have prepared political observers for just how spectacular of a collapse the ADQ made.  For instance, in my riding (Hull), the ADQ dropped from being the 3rd place party to being dead last among the 5 main provincial parties with both the Greens and Québec solidaire (which is an amalgamation of left-wing provincial parties including the Quebec Communist Party) finishing above them.  In fact, only the tiny Parti indépendantiste did worse then the ADQ in my riding.

Turning to the province-wide provincial polling results since the last provincial election, we see an equally bleak picture for ‘Canada’s Le Pen’ and the far-right ADQ.

Following the last provincial election, the ADQ had actually improved over their provincial results and were polling as the #1 provincial party with seemingly prohibitive odds of forming the next provincial government, either minority or majority.

As you can see, Quebec’s repudiation of far right politics since that time, clearly extends beyond merely the three ridings which had by-elections earlier this month.

Now that it seems as though the Québecois are well on their way to throwing out their version of Le Pen and become once again a beacon to progressives throughout Canada, maybe Canadians can learn from this and get to work on throwing out their version of George W. Bush.

8 Responses to “Just how big is Quebec’s shift away from the right wing? Pretty big”

  1. 1 MikeB 22 May, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    “maybe Canadians can learn from this and get to work on throwing out their version of George W. Bush.”

    Oh please, he’s NOTHING like Dubya! You’re slandering the man.

  2. 2 marcel 22 May, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    He seems like Dubya to me. Except I haven’t heard about Dubya sueing people who critisize him.

    Anyways, the Federal Conseratives have been polling quite well in Quebec, lately.

    Hopefuly Quebec’s provincial trends are leading the federal trends. I like the way that blue line is going for the ADQ. I hope to see a federal poll show the same thing for the COns.

  3. 3 Oggie 23 May, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    You’re right, he nothing like Dubya. Field Marshall Harper is worse being nothing more than an autocrat working within the Canadian Parliamentary system. I’ll speak more in your terms Mike: Regime change!, Regime change!

  4. 4 Michael 25 May, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Do you really think there was a genuine shift to the right in the first place ?
    Was this not perhaps more a case of being fed up with the liberals, uninspired by
    the PQ’s leadership, tired of the old federalist/sovereigntist debates, and intrigued by a young dynamic leader?
    A protest vote as much as anything else?

    Anyway gains by the Liberals (led by former Tory Jean Charest and hardly a party of the left) and PQ (more left leaning on social policies in general, but not really an ideological party -look at the Tory roots of the sister Bloc party in Ottawa) are not too much to get excited about. I am quite depressed at how badly Quebec solidaire and even the NDP do in a province that has historically been reasonably open to at least some socialist ideas.

  5. 5 martinp 26 May, 2008 at 6:11 am

    There is also the reality of byelections, although not mentioned here, if like other canadian byelections the voter turnout was absymmally but predictably low. Low enough to make small changes seem statistically significant. In our ridiculous electoral system those who place third know that there is little reason to turn out to vote, so why bother? However, those that ‘win’ the riding usually put more work into it.

    Of course its better news than ‘adq sweeps ridings’, but hardly a reason for ‘progressives’ to celebrate. The PQ and liberals are ‘progressive’ about in the same way as the democrats are in the US. Just because a party is ‘less regressive’ certainly doesn’t make them progressive.

  6. 6 paulitics 26 May, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Michael, why are you depressed about the showing of Quebec solidaire? It’s the best-performing genuinely socialist party in any jurisdiction in all of North America. I certainly wish it were 10 times more popular, but considering that the party didn’t exist 2 years ago, I for one am *very* happy about its continued growth.

  7. 7 martinp 26 May, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Anybody know what the turnout was? I’d agree that Hull is a big deal, but that could be just the effect of an organized student or club leader. One riding saw 700 but the other riding had only 200 people voting for the QS, that’s only double what I got in a municipal election-and i didn’t even campaign.

  8. 8 Simon Kiss 5 June, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t think this is much of a trend away from the right wing as it is a rejection of the right wing’s manifestation in the ADQ. I see the Liberals regaining a lot of ground. That’s hardly a shift to the left.

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