Analysis | François Legault's second chance | Elections Quebec 2022
What objectives should each of the leaders set for tonight's debate ?
The leader of the Coalition avenir Québec, François Legault, during a press briefing held in Orford, September 20, 2022.
François Legault himself had to pinch himself to believe it. Despite the many wanderings of its captain, the CAQ ship seems to be staying afloat, at least according to the most recent surveys. However, it would be risky to continue to navigate by sight. The CAQ leader has every interest in taking over the helm, and the sooner the better.
In 2014, the first half of the campaign had been painful for François Legault. The arrival of Pierre Karl Péladeau on the electoral scene had polarized the electorate between sovereignists and federalists – and completely marginalized the third way that the CAQ was then trying to embody. A second vigorous debate had however enabled François Legault to save the day.
The scenario repeated itself in 2018. After slipping (again) on the issue of immigration, the head of the CAQ managed to raise the bar during the second debate.
Will history repeat itself a third time, after its lackluster performance last week? In the team of François Legault, in any case, we are confident. The leader, it is explained, had never – until now – had to defend his record against simultaneous attacks from four opponents. A period of adaptation was inevitable.
Either way, this is a great opportunity for the outgoing Prime Minister to set the record straight. If we can bet that he will return to the charge with his attacks against Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, whom he already sees as leader of the official opposition, he will also have to be wary of his other opponents.
Don't miss the Radio-Canada leaders' debate, hosted by Patrice Roy and broadcast live Thursday evening at 8 p.m., to see the five leaders of Quebec's main political parties cross swords. You can watch this debate on ICI TÉLÉ and on our website.
The first debate allowed Paul St-Pierre Plamondon a slight recovery, while Dominique Anglade seems, for two days, particularly in good shape. As for Éric Duhaime, we bet he will want to give the chief caquiste his own coin after being apostrophized by the latter on the health issue.
François Legault would also be doing himself a huge service by being more attentive to his non-verbal communication, his facial expressions having betrayed a certain weariness during the first confrontation.
There is undoubtedly something discouraging for the other parties to see the leader of the CAQ maintain himself in public opinion despite his blunders. Despite all their attacks, none has so far managed to really break through the armor of François Legault. In the circumstances, it may be best for them to focus on their strengths rather than their opponent's weaknesses.
After struggling to stand out in the first confrontation, Dominique Anglade should be more concrete in her commitments. The Charter of the Regions and the ECO project are certainly great ideas on paper, but many voters still do not know what they are about.
Like what Paul St-Pierre Plamondon did during the first confrontation, the Liberal leader would do well to explain to voters what they have to gain by voting for her political party. Several have noted that Dominique Anglade was more natural, less restrained, these last two days. The liberal leader lets herself be herself, which can only help her.
Despite a solid performance from its co-spokesperson last week, Québec solidaire is struggling to outrun the other parties according to the most recent polls. While QS appears to have had a near-perfect campaign so far, something is holding it back.
Rightly or wrongly, many observers have concluded that QS has erred in promising new taxes and levies. However, this is not surprising for a left-wing party that seeks to fight against inequalities.
If it is too late to back down, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois could take the opportunity to reassure voters and talk about the benefits of this redistribution of wealth. Above all, he could explain what all this money would provide in terms of additional public services.
PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon surprised during the first debate.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has drawn many accolades since his performance last week. His calm and poised tone, in particular, won over. He has no interest in changing the formula.
If he managed to create the surprise during this first appearance in debate, it will take more to impress this time around. The PQ leader has a lot of work to do to bring back all the former sovereignists who have gone elsewhere. The fact that he is seen as the best second choice by a majority responding to the polls bodes well, but it will only remain a success of esteem if he does not succeed in convincing these potential voters to make him their first choice.
There has been much less talk about Éric Duhaime in recent days and that is certainly not to displease him. At the big rally he organized last Friday in the lobby of the Videotron Center, the conservative leader put his finger on what his future depends on: the mobilization of his electorate.
Nobody really knows how far the Conservative Party can go, but it is essential that all those who identify with it go to the polls if the political formation is to maintain the momentum of the past few months. This second debate is for Éric Duhaime the last great opportunity he has to remind his activists of this simple but essential message.
Beyond the way the leaders intend to approach the debate, the format of this second confrontation could also influence its dynamics. Longer periods of five-way rallies are planned and no duels between two particular leaders will take place.
As in the past, everyone's speaking time will be carefully timed . Hopefully this will help avoid the cacophony that characterized the first half of last week's clash.