Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe to step down

Gilles Duceppe will announce his resignation as leader of the Bloc Québécois on Thursday, Radio-Canada has learned.

Bloc more than doubled its seats, but fell short of official party status in House of Commons

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe will officially announce his resignation Thursday. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Gilles Duceppe will announce his resignation as leader of the Bloc Québécois on Thursday, CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada has learned.

The decision comes after Duceppe failed to win back his former seat or lead his party back to official status in Monday's election. Twelve seats are needed for official party status in the House of Commons , and the party won 10.

Popular support for the party in Monday's election did not surpass 20 per cent.

Earlier this week, Duceppe admitted the election results fell short of his expectations.

"Certainly, these are not the results we were hoping for," Duceppe told a crowd of BQ supporters Monday night after all the ballots were counted.

Parti Québécois Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau said at the time that he hoped Duceppe would stay on as the Bloc's leader and touted his expertise in federal issues.

"Gilles has always been a strong advocate. He has the political experience, which we saw during the election campaign."

Duceppe won a seat as a Bloc MP in 1990, and served as a leader of the party for 14 years. He resigned after the 2011 election, which saw his party lose all but four of the 47 seats it held at dissolution.

The party had further struggles in the period since the 2011 election, with two MPs defecting and new leader Mario Beaulieu failing to gain traction in the province.

That enticed 68-year-old Duceppe to come back from retirement in June, just weeks before the Aug. 2 election call.

During the 11-week campaign he visited voters in towns and villages across the province. The party won 10 seats in Quebec — nine of them were gains at the expense of the NDP.

But Duceppe lost his own race in his home riding of Laurier–Sainte-Marie for the second consecutive time to the NDP's Hélène Laverdière.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday in Montreal, ​Duceppe in part blamed strategic voting for the Bloc's struggles, saying Quebecers voted Liberal with the aim of ousting Stephen Harper's Conservatives from power.

Catherine Fournier next Bloc president?

There are rumblings that Catherine Fournier, defeated BQ candidate in Montarville in the Montérégie region, could take over from Mario Beaulieu as president of the party.

Duceppe's office did not wish to comment on the matter. Meanwhile, Fournier, who was contacted by Radio-Canada, said more information would be available on Thursday.

Duceppe has a news conference scheduled in Montreal on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.