MONTREAL, Que. — Premier François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec are certain to win the next provincial election. Less clear is what the race will do to his competitors.
By every empirical indicator — voting intentions, government approval, party financing, favorability ratings — Legault and the CAQ will win a second straight majority in Quebec on Oct. 3, assuming trends hold.
It would be easy to predict an uneventful and boring fall campaign.
But how opposition parties fare this fall could completely and drastically reshape Quebec politics for the next decade:
— The Parti Québécois: Imagine a scenario in which the PQ weathers the CAQ storm to elect, say, a half dozen members to the National Assembly. The outcome would have a dramatically different effect on pro-independence forces than were the PQ to be wiped off the map, even if the roots of the sovereignty movement are deep and wide.
— The (new) Conservative Party of Quebec: If PCQ leader Éric Duhaime becomes the first elected, big-C Conservative assembly member in close to a century, the notoriety is likely to grow his movement ahead of the 2026 election. If he’s shut out, that’s less likely.
— The Quebec Liberals: The QLP has governed Quebec for much of the province’s history since Confederation. Prior to CAQ’s 2018 victory, the QLP had been in power for nearly 15 straight years. It has served as official opposition ever since.
Now its future hangs in the balance.
A Léger voting intention poll last week confirmed the dire trend. The Liberals ranked second with 18 percent provincially, though it was 26 points behind the governing CAQ.
But it’s the Liberals’ standing with francophone voters that could spell trouble for Dominique Anglade and her team. Among francophones — roughly 80 percent of Quebec’s population, and 88 percent outside of the Montreal metropolitan region — the Liberals stand dead last with the support of 10 percent of francophones.
The Quebec Liberals have long been mocked as a party for — and of — the anglophone minority. These quips were exaggerated, since the Liberals enjoyed a strong base in francophone Quebec.
But in 2022 Liberals could be essentially shut out of francophone Quebec.
What if all that is left of the Liberals after this fall election is the western half of Montreal (where most anglophone and allophone voters reside) and the odd seat in the Outaouais region, across from the Ottawa River from Ontario. How would the QLP find quality francophone candidates for the 2026 election and beyond?
So it is not just the 2022 election that looks bleak for the QLP, but its very survival in francophone Quebec.
Recent polls show QLP support has slipped among non francophone voters. In the past, more than 60 to 70 percent of the non francophone minority regularly supported the Liberals. The latest Léger has the QLP at 46 percent, a historical low.
The non francophone subsample was only 146 respondents, so it contains a fair share of uncertainty. However, many polls in the past months have measured the QLP near or below the 50 percent mark among non francophones, significantly below historic trends. Several sources have observed the decline.
Can Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade turn the ship before Oct. 3? The data suggests it’s unlikely: Anglade’s personal numbers have been nothing short of catastrophic. Only 9 percent of voters consider her the best candidate for premier (35 points behind Legault) — she fares lower than the party she leads.
In fact, among current QLP supporters, only 45 percent say Anglade is the best candidate for premier.
The QLP has been competitive since Confederation, so many Quebec voters may not realize the party is so close to an abyss. The data is dire. If it crumbles as badly as polls have indicated, the QLP may not recover.