As I watch the results of the Quebec election roll in, it appears as though not only my predictions but those of pretty much every person that made them are dead wrong.
I can't help but think of the 1976 Quebec election. For those of you not as nerdy as I, I will explain the background on that.
It was at that election, when the PQ made a surprise majority win, that the most memorable moment in Quebec or even Canadian politics occured in my mind. A PQ organizer came to the microphone and explaimed, weeping, "Radio-Canada a projeté un gouvernment péquist MAJORITAIRE!" She was overwhlemed by emotion as was the room, the supporters hugged and cried. I have never seen people so visibly moved by the result of an election.
Fast forward 30 years and a few months to the 2007 election. The ADQ supporters aren't crying - yet - but they are certainly shocked and overwhelmed with joy.
The result: a one-man party, led by a former Liberal, with ideas completely opposed to the mainstream of Quebec politics surging from nowhere, surprising all of the pundits, to form a government. Oh whoops, I'm still talking about 1976. That's right, in those days the PQ had 6 seats and was led by Réné Levesque, a former Liberal cabinet minister who was the only thing that gave the party any credibility. They went from 6 seats to 71 and majority government.
As it stands now, it looks like the Liberals and ADQ will fight for first in the mid-high 40s while the PQ is stuck in third in the mid 30s. But what about the long-term ramifications? A party winning 30% of the vote and 35-ish seats probably shouldn't be having its obituary written, but lets look back to 1976.
In those days we had a centrist federalist party called the Liberals and a rightist automist party called Union Nationale. In the distance was a separatist party, the Parti Québécois. When the PQ surged into government the Union Nationale, which had won office only 10 years before, promptly disappeared from the political map despite having been the dominant force in Quebec politics for 40 years.
This time we have a centrist federalist party called the Liberals and a a separatist party called the Parti Québécois. In the distance is a rightist automist party called Action Démocratique. Could history repeat itself in reverse? Could the ADQ replace the PQ, which formed government only 9 years before and like the UN before it dominated politics for the better part of 40 years before its disappearence? Is the PQ over and is Quebec returning to its pre-1973 right vs. left alignment?