COMMENT: How Quebec voters turn the 2019 elections into a wild ride

COMMENT: How Quebec voters turn the 2019 elections into a wild ride

Last week, my Ipsos colleague, Sean Simpson, eloquently claimed that anyone wishing to occupy government benches after the October 21 election must win in the suburbs of Toronto.

The Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois all have high hopes of improving their provincial total in 2015 due to their declining NDP wealth. But apart from Quebec's strategic importance in terms of the number of seats, the province is making such a prominent area more volatile for Quebec voters than we have seen in previous federal elections.

In 2011, the NDP launched a campaign when only 13 percent of Quebecers said they intended to vote for the NDP. The party had only one seat in the province - Thomas Mulcair. In the final poll of Ipsos's 2011 campaign, the NDP collector saw an astonishing 42 percent of the votes cast, up 29 percentage points.

Many doubted that this significant jump in voting intentions would stop on polling day on May 2, 2011, but so it was: the party gained 43 percent of the vote in Quebec and won an amazing 59 out of 75 seats at the time. Bloc in Québécois was de-mined, moving from 49 to just four.

Four years later, in 2015, another major shift took place. This time the NDP was losing, falling from 58 at the start of the campaign to just 16 after a majority on October 19, 2015. In contrast, the Liberal party led by Justin Trudeau participated in the campaign. with only seven seats and only 24 percent of the intended voting intentions, Quebec won out of 78 seats out of 78.

What makes such massive swings in Quebec possible is both simple and challenging. Simple, because in federal elections, Quebec voters do not base their choices on a more traditional progressive-conservative axis that, at least in a very general sense, drives voters in other provinces. And complicated by Quebec nationalism: this additional axis will dramatically complicate matters for both federal parties and Quebec politics observers. The axis of nationalism often goes beyond the progressive-conservative axis from strange and sometimes unpredictable angles.

Did the NDP suddenly wipe out the province in 2011 mainly because of its gradual policies and ideals? Not quite. His support in Quebec was backed by a very eclectic coalition of voters from the left-right political spectrum, many of whom were primarily stubborn nationalists.

These 2011 voters wanted to overthrow the conservative government at the same time, wishing to leave Bloc Québécois after 20 years of dominance in the province. Jack Layton, NDP leader, spoke beautifully French, knew the province well, and could count Mulcair as a strong right-hand man in Quebec. The party benefited from this strong desire for change.

But this heterogeneous coalition collapsed when it was first seriously tested in 2015. The main reason for the problems in the RAK province was his position on the ban on face shields at citizenship ceremonies. When the subject suddenly dropped in the campaign, Mulcair, who replaced Layton as leader, expressed his opposition to the proposed ban. It was the natural progressive position of the NDP and its leader, but the more nationalist faction of the NDP Quebec base left the party because of it, paying only a third of the support it had in Quebec within two weeks.

Ironically, it benefited the Liberal Party, which had the same position as the NDP in 2015. The Trudeau Liberals did not face the same nationalist expectations as the NDP and therefore escaped a position that was inconsistent. of the strong majority of the electorate in the province. In Quebec this year, secularism was not ultimately a ballot box issue. Everything was about change.

Move on to your current campaign. Until last week, voting intentions in the province had been stable for over a year, liberals were able to beat the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois by 10 to 15 points while the NDP was monitoring.

But after the first French debate in October, it started to change. Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois, performed very well that night, further supporting the overall impression that the bloc was running a strong campaign and should be taken seriously. As a result, Quebec rises sharply in the bloc, which received 4-7. In a poll conducted in October, 30 percent support.

For the first time since 1996, Gilles Duceppe does not lead the bloc, giving the party a newer, younger look. In the absence of deep regional divisions in Canada, the bloc has easily reached Quebec public opinion on almost all key issues, even if some views may seem odd from a national standpoint.

The bloc may have conservative views on issues such as secularism (Bill 21) and irregular migrants, while promoting a more progressive theme on climate change, health and other key priorities. Other national parties do not have this luxury.

This ability to defend what is popular in Quebec indefinitely puts Blanchet in a position of envy over other leaders, likely to reappear in the second French debate on Thursday.

Keep an eye out for Bloc Québécois for the next two weeks, as its success in the province can determine whether the next government can count on most seats. Stay informed.

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