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A minor win for Charest

Quebec elections are never dull because they are full of colourful characters, intrigue and more than a few surprises. Whether it's the Liberals ushering in the Quiet Revolution with their 1960 win, or the emotional 1976 election of René Lévesque and his separatist Parti Québécois, the voting habits of our belle province guarantee to fascinate.

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Liberal Premier Jean Charest seizes on sagging PQ poll numbers and calls an early election in pursuit of a second majority. But as Charest and new Parti Québécois leader Andre Boisclair trade barbs over federalism, polls show that Quebecers want something new. Just days before the vote, the previously unthinkable idea of Quebec's first minority government in 130 years seems inevitable. And the biggest surprise is yet to come. On election night, the Action Démocratique du Québec snaps up 41 seats, threatening to upend both the Liberals and the PQ.

As we hear in this clip, The Liberals hang on to form a minority government. ADQ leader Mario Dumont believes the spike in support for his party signals a new day in Quebec politics, where the choice between sovereignty and federalism no longer defines the political landscape. And for the first time in more than 30 years, the PQ leads neither the government nor the official opposition.
• Election day was March 26, 2007. Jean Charest's Liberals took 48 of the 125 seats, down from 74. Mario Dumont's Action Démocratique du Québec won 41 seats, up from just five. André Boisclair's Parti Québécois took 36 seats, dropping from 47.

• The popular vote reflected the tight race, with less than five per cent separating the parties. The Liberals captured 33.08 per cent, while the ADQ won 30.80 per cent and the PQ held 28.32 per cent.

• The 71.28 per cent voter turnout marked the second-lowest showing in Quebec history.

• First elected to the National Assembly in 1989 at the age of 23, André Boisclair replaced Bernard Landry at the helm of the PQ in November 2005. Controversy dogged Boisclair in his first year as leader and led to musing that anything short of a PQ win would put his job in jeopardy. While Boisclair stood firm immediately after the results were in, he resigned two months later in May 2007.

• The ADQ was formed in 1994. In just three elections the party jumped from one seat in 1998 to five seats in 2003 to a whopping 41 in 2007. Considered a right-wing party in Quebec, some liken the ADQ's platform in 2007 to Ontario's Progressive Conservative "Common-Sense Revolution" of the 1990s.

• Hoping to gain a majority, Charest called an election for Dec. 8, 2008. When the results were in, he had pulled it off, winning 66 seats to 51 for the PQ, seven for the ADQ and one for a new party called Québec Solidaire.

• Given his party's poor result, Mario Dumont  resigned as ADQ leader.

• For more stories and information about the 2008 Quebec election, see CBC.ca's Quebec Votes 2008 website.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 26, 2007
Guest(s): Michael Behiels, André Boisclair, Jean Charest, Mario Dumont, Michael Fortier, Stephen Harper
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Keith Boag, Nancy Wood
Duration: 6:59

Last updated: June 17, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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