Quebec elections: separatist Parti Quebecois wins minority government
Pauline Marois becomes province’s first female premier as voters throw out Liberal government in wake of student protests
Canadians in the French-speaking province of Quebec have voted for a change of government, electing the separatist Parti Quebecois and making its leader, Pauline Marois, the province’s first female premier.
The PQ is likely to form a minority government after winning fewer seats than required to take power outright, and the result leaves questions over whether it will be able to hold a referendum on leaving the Canadian federation.
The snap election was called after a student strike over raising tuition fees and the Liberal government’s crackdown on student protesters caused unrest across the province.
Former student strike leader Leo Bureau-Blouin, 20, was elected in his district of Laval, making him the youngest elected to the national assembly.
Jean Charest, the leader of the federalist Liberal party, which has governed Quebec for the past nine years, was unseated in his own district of Sherbrook, while his party came in second behind the Parti Quebecois. Support for the party leader has waned due to his handling of the student strike, allegations of corruption in the construction industry and passage of Bill 78 – a widely condemned anti-protest law that brought hundreds of thousands of Quebecois into the streets during the spring.
Marois has promised a tuition freeze until a summit on higher education financing is held, has pledged to repeal Bill 78, and would like to pass a third referendum on Quebec sovereignty. Quebec separating from Canada is a bitterly contentious issue between in the French-speaking province and the election of the PQ only to minority government may indicate Quebec people are not ready to face a third referendum, the previous two having been defeated.
Pictured: Supporters of Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois cheer the party’s victory in Quebec’s elections. Photograph: Rogerio Barbosa/AFP/Getty