While most of America’s political junkies were watching the Democrats strut on stage at Charlotte, yours truly was watching something far more interesting: Quebec’s election.
For the uninitiated, Quebec elections are usually a battle between the Parti Quebecois and the Liberals: two center-left parties forced to vie for center-right francophone votes as they argue whether Quebec should stay within Canada (the Liberals) or go on its own as an independent country (PQ). Jean Charest, former leader of the Canadian Conservatives, has led the Quebec Liberals for 14 years, and Quebec itself (as its Premier) for nine.
This year, however, the PQ and Liberals had competition from the Coalition for the Future of Quebec (CAQ) for right-wing voters. This is not to say CAQ is a right-wing party (it’s too early to tell, as the party is in its first election), but it was enough to make it a genuine three-way race.
The results came in tonight, and it’s a mess. The PQ won the most seats, but not enough to outnumber the combined strength of the Liberals and the CAQ.
Now, one could see the Liberals and the CAQ work together to block the PQ from taking power, but for three things. First, tradition holds that the party that wins the most seats should govern. Secondly, Charest lost his own seat. Finally, well, the Liberals and the CAQ hate each other.
So the PQ will govern, but they face a hostile majority in the legislature (which means their government cam be brought down at any time), and won 3% less in the popular vote than they earned in 2008.
So will the PQ be able to play its usual brinksmanship with Ottawa before its opponents pull the plug. Can they convince some CAQ members to switch (the founder of CAQ is a former PQ bigwig)? What will the Liberals do? How will this affect Canada as a whole? Lest we forget, that’s the Canada that has been our largest source of imported oil since 2004…
…and I’m supposed to believe the Democrats’ Charlotte show is more interesting than that?
Cross-posted to Bearing Drift