Analysis | A lackluster election campaign | Elections Quebec 2022

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Analysis | election campaign without sparkle | Élections Quebec 2022

The leaders of the five main political parties photographed before the second debate of the campaign: François Legault, Dominique Anglade, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Éric Duhaime.

There was real suspense in 2018. After a mandate marked by budgetary rigor and fifteen years of almost uninterrupted Liberal government, the thirst for change was palpable. The question was whether a party would succeed in embodying this change at the ballot box. The polls pointed to a close race.

Nothing like this this year. Even by multiplying the missteps, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) will have been at the top of the voting intentions from the beginning to the end of the electoral campaign. The opposition parties have stood still, with the exception of the modest rise of the Parti Québécois (PQ).

Beyond the polls and the race for first place, we cannot say that the commitments of the various parties have aroused passions.

Of course we discussed for a few days of the CAQ's promise to build new hydroelectric dams, but many voters must still wonder what exactly the ECO project of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is all about.

From the start of the campaign, the proliferation of tax promises, each more similar than the next, set the tone. Standing out was going to be hard on all parties, engaged for the first time in history in a real five-way race.

After having monopolized the news for more than two years, it is surprising that the theme of health has occupied so little space. The lamentable state of the network is certainly cause for weariness, but that does not explain why the CAQ's promise to authorize the construction of private mini-hospitals caused almost no stir. A few years ago, tempers would have been heated for much less.

Third link debate enthusiasts were well served, however, with each day bringing its share of new controversies . François Legault may not have helped himself with his ambiguous answers, but one wonders if voters are as interested in this question as one seems to believe, as a colleague in the field recently observed. /p>

In addition to this subject, there was much talk of immigration. If the parties have very different visions of this question, it is above all the gaffes of the CAQ on this subject that have caught the attention.

Outgoing Prime Minister François Legault

François Legault himself got himself into trouble by associating violence and immigration, then he found himself on the defensive because of the comments of his minister Jean Boulet, according to whom 80% of immigrants do not work and do not don't speak French. The outgoing Prime Minister may have announced that he would replace his reckless minister during a possible second term, but the image of the CAQ is tarnished.

After being launched into the stratosphere of political popularity by the pandemic, François Legault must have found it difficult to return to the ground. The temporary absence of debates in the National Assembly may have offered him some respite during his term, but it also seems to have affected his ability to defend his ideas.

In a context of exacerbated uncertainty, the head of the CAQ wanted to make competence in managing the economy the key theme of the electoral campaign, like Jean Charest in 2008. On the defensive and unenthusiastic, François Legault however had difficulty explaining concretely what he intends to do with a second term.

The fact that none of the opposition parties really knew how to take advantage of this situation says as much about them as the Prime Minister's mistakes say about himself.

In fact, other parties also risk coming out of the electoral process badly damaged. Even if she caught the attention of voters for a dance on TikTok, Dominique Anglade had a very difficult campaign.

Liberal leader Dominique Anglade

The liberal leader has certainly shown her resilience, but she too often seemed alone, the liberal organization – once respected and feared – having given the impression of having let her down. Just think of the party's many recruiting problems or the $16.3 billion hole in its financial framework.

In contrast, the Parti Québécois – which was said to be dead – managed to cause some surprise. By refocusing his message on the reasons for being of his political party, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon brought back to him some of the sovereigntist voters who had gone elsewhere.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois

While very few people knew him, the PQ leader stood out thanks to his solid performances in the two leaders' debates. His courtesy and affability have obviously paid off, but it is still unclear whether he will obtain more than a success of esteem.

Québec solidaire also had a good campaign, in particular thanks to the flawless performance of its co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, always solid in front of the media. However, it is far from certain that QS will be able to derive any electoral dividend whatsoever.

The parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois

Indeed, this political formation does not seem to have seen coming the outcry that its proposal to tax estates and net assets of more than one million dollars as well as certain types of vehicles would cause. If the expression orange taxes – which François Legault, cunningly, concocted – has spread, it is because it has put its finger precisely where it hurts.

Éric Duhaime has done a lot for the Conservative Party of Quebec in recent months by allowing it to carve out a real place for itself on the political spectrum, as evidenced by his presence at the two leaders' debates organized during the campaign. Here, however, the miracles end.

Even if it has succeeded in mobilizing its militants like no other party has been able to in this race, the PCQ seems to be leveling off. A skilled communicator, Éric Duhaime was disconcerted by the saga of unpaid tax bills. The voting intentions in his favor seem to be settling, but the slightest gain will however be a big victory for him on Monday evening.

Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime

Of the predictions heard early in the campaign, at least two proved correct: François Legault is often his own worst enemy and the race is on for second place.

The head of the CAQ has certainly lost some feathers in recent weeks, but none of his four opponents has managed to stand out to the point of uniting the vote dissatisfied voters.

The simple fact that after 36 days it is still so difficult to know for sure who will form the Official Opposition speaks volumes about the dullness of this campaign.

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