Francois Legault re-elected as CAQ gains seats
Published Monday, April 7, 2014 9:10PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 7, 2014 11:40PM EDT
Francois Legault ran the campaign of his life for Quebec 2014, and it appears to have worked.
"Even though the results are not what we hoped for, it's clear we are have sown seeds for the future," said Legault.
He said he would not be going anywhere, and would be happy to continue to lead his party for another four years in hopes of building a strong, integrated opposition to the Liberal party -- with help from anglophone voters.
"I do hope you will join our party in growing numbers in the months and years to come to build a real alternative to the Liberals," said Legault.
"We need you! We need you, we need you to build a stronger and more responsible Quebec which includes all its citizens."
The Coalition Avenir Quebec leader got off to an admittedly slow start as the writ was dropped.
With 18 seats in the National Assembly when it was dissolved, mid-election projections were predicting Legault would only hold onto a handful of seats.
That turned out not to be the case after Legault put on a fiery, no-holds-barred performance in two debates, hammering the leaders of the PQ and the Liberals on integrity, job creation, and other key issues.
Analyst Jean Lapierre said Legault did the best he could be expected to do.
"After a while we thought that the wheels were coming off his bus, and suddenly because of the debate, he had a second kick at the can, and at the end, I mean he was really peaking," said Lapierre.
Polls conducted over the final two weeks of the campaign showed CAQ support doubling, from 13 percent support on March 23 to 25 percent on April 6.
That support turned out to be concentrated enough, especially in the Monteregie and Eastern Townships, to pull seats away from the Parti Quebecois.
Polling rise tied to PKP
In addition to Legault's strong debate performance, other analysts said that when the PQ started discussing independence, voters began to abandon the party and flock to the CAQ.
Dan Gagnier, who served as chief of staff to former Quebec premier Jean Charest, points to the entry of PQ candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau as the start of the CAQ's rise in support.
Peladeau, a media mogul, launched his candidacy with a passionate pro-sovereignty declaration, saying he wants to "make Quebec a country."
"The event around Pierre Karl Peladeau was a very early definition for what seemed to be the question of another referendum," Gagnier told CTV.
He added that a number of other voters have been turned off by the mudslinging during the campaign.