Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quick Quebec election analysis

The election started with the PQ and Liberals close in the polls and the CAQ distantly behind but as the election went on the PQ support dropped significantly while the Liberals gained marginally and the CAQ gained significantly.   The really big loser on the day is the PQ.

This election has not been a good one for the PQ.  This is the worst percentage of the vote for the PQ since the 1973 election.  In terms of seats it is their worst result since 1989.   The only saving grace is that the PQ remains the Official Opposition.

PQ Election results since formation
Election  vote   percent seats 
1970      662,404  23.1%   7   4th party but 3rd in pop vote
1973      897,809  30.2%   6   off opp
1976    1,390,351  41.4%  71   maj govt
1981    1,773,237  49.3%  80   maj govt
1985    1,320,008  38.7%  23   off opp
1989    1,369,067  40.2%  29   off opp
1994    1,751,442  44.8%  77   maj govt
1998    1,744,240  42.9%  76   maj govt 2nd in pop vote
2003    1,269,183  33.2%  46   off opp
2007    1,125,546  28.4%  36   3rd party
2008    1,139,185  35.2%  51   off opp
2012    1,393,703  32.0%  54   min govt
2014    1,074,027  25.4%  30   off opp 

It has been 16 years since the PQ has managed to get more than 40% of the vote, their overall electoral trajectory over the last five elections has been downward when compared to the era of 1976 to 1998.  Once example was the loss of the safe seat of Ungava. Since the riding was created in 1981 the PQ won it in every election until last night.

It seems only 1/4 to 1/3 of people in Quebec are willing to back the PQ any longer.   One of the reasons for this is the rise of third and fourth parties over the last four or five elections.  There was a period, after the final demise of the Union Nationale, that the PQ and Liberals took the vast majority of the votes, it was a two party race in Quebec from the 1970s to 90s.

PQ and Liberal dominance 
Election  share  seats
1970     68.5%  79/108
1973     84.7% 108/110
1976     75.2%  97/110
1981     95.3% 122/122
1985     94.7% 122/122
1989     90.1% 121/125
1994     89.2% 124/125
1998     86.4% 124/125
2003     79.2% 121/125
2007     61.4%  84/125
2008     77.3% 117/125
2012     63.2% 104/125
2014     66.9% 100/125

This is the first time a large third party in Quebec has been able to re-elect a decent sized caucus.   The CAQ lost popular support but gained three seats.   In 2012 the vote splits went against CAQ, in 2014 it went their way.   Could this be a sign of a realignment of Quebec politics where the CAQ will serve as a right wing alternative to the Liberals?

Quebec Solidaire has managed to continue to grow, they increased their vote total significantly and won another seat bringing their total to three.   They are also now serious contenders in two to four more seats.   QS continued their trend were a large portion of their total provincial vote was concentrated in their five best seats.  In 2014 17.04%  of their total vote was in their best five.  This is the lowest vote concentration they have seen since the party first contested the 2007 election but no by much.   Their five best seats average more than four times the support levels of the other 119 ridings where they ran candidates.

An interesting question, are current day QS supporters former PQ supporters?  If they are, the loss of 7.6% of the vote to the QS could make it impossible for the PQ to win the next election.

So now what for the PQ MNAs?   I could see some of them looking for a radical sovereigntist option and joining Option Nationale or something like that.  Some of them I could see switching to QS.  I could even see some of them joining CAQ.   The problem for the PQ  will be to maintain their 30 MNAs.  The loss of 2-3 to QS and 2-3 to CAQ would leave them roughly tied with CAQ for seats and status as Official Opposition.  The PQ is at a serious cross road that could lead to the party being small perpetual third party.

How the parties did in popular vote

Party       2012      2014     change   % change
Liberals 1,360,968 1,757,114  +396,125   +29.1%
PQ       1,393,703 1,074,027  -319,676   -22.9%
CAQ      1,180,235   975,512  -204,723   -17.3%
QS         263,111   323,372   +60,261   +22.9%
ON          82,539    30,736   -51,803   -62.8%
Greens      43,394    23,171   -20,223   -46.6%
The rest    38,738    48,579    +9,841   +25.4%
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