Quebec: Right-wing populist CAQ exploits mass disaffection to win office
3 October 2018
The right-wing populist Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ—Coalition for Quebec’s Future) won a solid parliamentary majority in Monday’s Quebec election, unseating the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard and shattering the duopoly that the federalist Liberals and pro- ind épendantiste Parti Québécois (PQ) have exercised over Quebec’s government for the past half century.
The Liberals and PQ, which have jointly presided over decades of austerity, both polled their lowest-ever share of the popular vote, 24.8 and 17.1 percent respectively. With just nine seats, the PQ will not even have official party status in the Quebec National Assembly.
The CAQ, led by former Air Transat boss and PQ cabinet minister François Legault, cynically promoted itself as the agent of change, although it is committed to an even more right-wing variant of the big business agenda that all Liberal and PQ governments have pursued since the 1980s.
To its own surprise, Québec Solidaire, a self-avowed left nationalist party, emerged during the five-and-a-half week campaign as a pole of attraction for working people, especially youth, seeking a means to fight capitalist austerity.
Québec Solidaire won 16.1 percent of the popular vote, more than double the 7.63 percent share it garnered in the 2014 election, and took 10 seats, as compared with three seats four years ago, making it the second largest opposition party after the Liberals.
Media claims of a CAQ sweep are a deliberate attempt to intimidate working-class opposition to an incoming government committed to expanding for-profit health care, slashing public sector jobs, gutting regulatory restraints on big business, and implementing…