28 March 2007

Fascinating Election

We had an election here in Québec two days ago, and the results were fascinating.

The easy thing to notice would be the moderately scary final numbers, where our most right wing party, the Action Démocratique, managed to vault itself into second place, with 41 of the 125 seats, in comparison to its 5 seats from before the election. Also a little scary is the reduction of the most left wing mainstream party, the Parti Québécois, to third place, with a reduction in seats of under 10 to a new total of 36. I don't really care that the governing Liberal Party lost its majority and is now at 48 seats, but I never like a centre or centre right party to be criticized from the right — it tends to make them even more right wing.

What is most interesting is the stuff you have to look closer to see: wild differences in how the parties did in different parts of the province, even in different parts of Montréal. Interesting, but not very indicative of future paths of harmony.

The Liberals (PLQ) came first in 48 ridings, second in 33 and third in 44. The Action Démocratique (ADQ) came first in 41, second in 45, third in 33, fourth in 4 and fifth in 2. The Parti Québécois (PQ) came first in 36, second in 42, third in 44 and fourth in 3. That's a really strange kind of outcome, especially considering that some of the wins by each of the three parties were not really all that close, and others were extremely close three-way races.

Then there are our two 'new' parties without any wins. The Green Party (PVQ) came second in 3, third in 3, fourth in 78 and fifth in 24, but none of their finishes was particularly remarkable, just a new, higher percentage spread out all over the province (their final total was about 3.89%). Québec Solidaire (QS) came second in 2, third in 1, fourth in 40 and fifth in 80, but scored quite well in those three ridings they did the best in — 29.38%, 26.04% and 23.7%. The overall total for QS was 3.65%.

The other thing I feel quite heartened by was the rejection of being bought by our own money. The Liberals tried to promise a big tax cut in the last week of the campaign after the province was allotted extra money in transfer payments by the federal budget. These transfer payments are supposed to be helping us pay for things like health and education, things this government has been rather bad at supporting since they took power, always claiming lack of funds. Their reaction to getting funds? Cut taxes! The voters' reaction? Vote for someone else!

I'd like to think that this is indicative of the kind of consensus we have in Québec that yes, we do pay higher taxes, but we expect that certain things will be done or paid for by the government. Don't give me a couple hundred dollars while you are charging families more for daycare and students more for their educations. I have no children and my university days are behind me, but I expect to live in a society where my taxes help keep those costs low for others, just as I benefitted from the lower tuition fees when I was in school.

The best part of all of this election outcome thing is having the first minority government in Québec in more than 100 years. I like the oversight and the impetus to negotiate that this imposes on the government. I am also secretly thrilled with the idea that the government could fall at any time if they have a misstep. If only we can ensure that things remain that way at the federal level, too.

1 comment:

Ken Monteith said...

Of course, reading this, it seems evident that I am some kind of election junkie and statistics geek — I did spend quite a bit of time going through the riding-by-riding results building an Excel file of where each of the parties finished in each riding.

What can I say, but that I lost interest in watching baseball when the Expos moved out of Montréal, and the best replacement for that flood of statistics and useless information streaming across the TV screen is election results, especially when the outcome is in doubt.

Good thing I don't have a life!