Monday, November 21, 2011

Will by-election boost Charest before battle with Legault begins in earnest?

Though François Legault launched his new Coalition-Avenir-Quebec party last week, voters in the eastern Quebec riding of Bonaventure will not see CAQ on the ballot when they vote in a by-election on Dec. 5. That is good news for Jean Charest. 

The leaders of the two main parties in Quebec’s National Assembly have both been unbalanced by the new arrival on the political scene. The by-election that was forced by the resignation of Liberal cabinet minister Nathalie Normandeau has come at a difficult time for both Mr. Charest and Pauline Marois.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here.

This piece looks at a recent poll by Segma Recherche on the Bonaventure by-election, as well as the by-elections that have taken place since Jean Charest was first elected in 2003. This is the 21st by-election to take place in those eight years in Quebec, which might seem like a remarkable amount but 20 federal by-elections have also taken place since 2003. However, perhaps Quebec is more volatile, as eight of those 20 federal by-elections took place in the province while 14 of the last 39 by-elections (stretching back to 1998) took place in Quebec.

The province certainly accounts for more than its fair share of by-elections, at least over the last 13 years.

This one will be poured over, as it is somewhat of a test for both Jean Charest and Pauline Marois. One wonders how the CAQ would have performed in Bonaventure. According to the Segma poll: not very well. It seems it would have gotten something like 22% of the vote, which would have put it in a strong third or a weak second if it stole that vote primarily from the Parti Québécois.

But Bonaventure is not a good riding for the CAQ in general, since it has a long history of sticking to the Liberals (and, in particular, their well-known, long-serving, and popular MNAs) and even in their banner year of 2007 the ADQ did not do much better than 12% support. It was probably a good thing for the CAQ that François Legault did not do what was necessary to enter a candidate into the race. His launch would have been quite the let-down if it was closely followed by a third-place finish in its first electoral test.