Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Future of Quebec Solidaire

Although Quebec Solidaire received very little election coverage in the mainstream media, its dismal performance in the March 26 election was certainly noteworthy. After bursting on the political scene last year with an impressive by-election result in Saint Marie - Saint Jacques, the left-wing sovereignist party has failed to make major waves outside of a pair or ridings in Montreal's east end. In Mercier, Amir Khadir took 29% of the vote and finished second to Daniel Turp, the PQ candidate. Next door in Gouin, Francoise David was soundly defeated by the PQ incumbent, despite finishing second with 26% of the vote. In Saint Marie - Saint Jacques, the party fared worse than it did in the 2006 by-election. Outside of Montreal's east end, Quebec Solidaire finished out of the top three, and often found themselves behind the Green Party. In fact, on a province-wide basis, the Greens took 3.89% of the vote, compared to just 3.65% for Quebec Solidaire.

PQ members looking for a scapegoat will blame Quebec Solidaire for splitting the sovereignist and progressive vote. Although there are only a few ridings where a combined PQ-QS vote would have made a difference, it is true that the PQ did have to deploy resources differently to combat Quebec Solidaire on the left, thus preventing the party from doing a better job fighting the Liberals and ADQ. That said, if there were ever a time to eat into PQ support, it was the 2007 provincial election - but Quebec Solidaire could not deliver in any significant way outside a couple of ridings.

It may be too early to predict the demise of Quebec Solidaire. Despite its poor electoral performance in 2007, reconciliation between the left and the PQ does not appear to be an immediate priority, especially while Boisclair hangs in as leader. However, if (when) the constitutional question re-emerges as a powerful cleavage in Quebec politics expect the PQ to gobble up what remains of Quebec Solidaire. The PQ, like it or not, is regarded as THE sovereignist party. Nationalism has proven to be an incredibly powerful political force in Quebec - one that Quebec Solidaire could neither harness nor overcome while remaining in the shadows of the PQ.

1 comment:

ravijo said...

How interesting. I think that the ADQ's strong showing has only put more impetus behind Boisclair to move further right. Though, now that Boisclair is saying sovereignty is "something to wish for", and not practical, you might say he would try to reframe the party with it's left base.

I'm ultimately hopeful that QS will shift itself towards an NDP friendly position on Quebec separating-- I admire most of the policies and politics.