Quebec: Right-wing populist CAQ exploits disaffection with traditional parties


Quebec: Right-wing populist CAQ exploits disaffection with traditional parties

Laurent Lafrance

18 September 2018

With Quebec’s October 1 provincial election less than two weeks away, opinion polls continue to show the right-wing populist Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ, Coalition for Quebec’s Future) poised to win a majority, or at least a plurality, of the seats in the Quebec National Assembly.

Led by former Air Transat boss and onetime PQ cabinet minister, François Legault , the CAQ combines calls for tax cuts, privatization, deregulation and other pro-big business measures, with phony promises of improved public services and rank right-wing nationalist appeals. Most prominent of the latter are its calls for a 20 percent cut in the number of immigrants Quebec receives annually, and a vow to expel immigrants who fail French-language and “Quebec values” tests after three years’ residence in Quebec.

The CAQ, which was founded in 2011, has never finished better than third or won more than 27 percent of the vote in a Quebec general election. But it is currently the undeserved beneficiary of widespread popular hostility to the parties that have alternated as Quebec’s government since 1970, the federalist Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and the pro-Quebec independence Parti Québécois (PQ).

Polls at the beginning of the campaign indicated that both the PLQ and PQ were headed for their lowest ever share of the popular vote. The PLQ—which under Premier Philippe Couillard currently forms the government and has held power in Quebec City for all but 18 months of the last 15 years—is at risk of garnering less than 30 percent of the vote for the first time since its formation in 1867.

The PQ began the campaign with the support of just 18 percent of the electorate. It…

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