The “restless electorate” has thrown incumbent Liberals out of power in four provinces in the last 16 months, which is “an alarming trend” and a “wake-up call” for the federal Liberals as they prepare for the 2019 federal election, say Liberal MPs and political insiders, and a leading pollster says federal parties should not overlook the success of right-leaning provincial political parties in recent elections.
“To me, this is alarming,” said one Quebec Liberal MP who spoke on not-for-attribution basis only as no federal party wants to be seen as worried about the 2019 election. “We should pay close attention and try to analyze and understand what’s going on.”
On Oct. 1, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), led by François Legault, surprised pollsters and easily won a majority government in a strong defeat of the Quebec Liberals and Parti Québécois, the two provincial parties that have traded forming government since 1970. It’s the first time in nearly 50 years the province hasn’t been represented by either a separatist party or by the Liberals.
Under the leadership of Mr. Legault, who co-founded the CAQ in 2011 and was a former Parti Québécois minister, the party won 74 seats out of the province’s 125 seats, pushing the provincial Liberals into official opposition status with 32 seats. The Parti Québécois won only nine seats and lost official party status in the assembly, while the left-wing nationalist Quebec Solidaire saw 10 of its members elected.
The CAQ dominated in the semi-rural and township-filled regions to the south of Montreal and Québec City. In the 2015 election, the federal ridings directly south of Montreal were divided between the NDP and Liberals, while the ridings south of Québec City, went to the Conservatives. Mr. Legault’s party also won big in areas north of both major cities, which, at the federal level in 2015, were split between the three main federal parties and the Bloc Québécois.