Meanwhile, back in Quebec

03.19.03

There’s an election going on here (anyone remember that?) and today’s polls show the Liberals slightly ahead of the PQ.

This is good news on the surface, but with daily fluctuations, it doesn’t mean much. The only poll that matters is the ballot box, in other words.

It’s also worth noting that a majority in the polls doesn’t mean a majority government. It doesn’t even mean being elected. The Liberals won the popular vote last election, but the PQ won a majority of seats. Thanks to our ingenious ridings system, the Liberals need a ton more support in “soft nationalist” ridings in order to have a chance at forming government, because the PQ’s support is traditionally more spread out, while the Liberals tend to get a lot of waste votes in concentrated areas like Montreal. In fact, a party could win the election with only 17% of the vote under the current ridings system.

How’s this for absurdity? It is theoretically possible that a party that finishes third in the popular vote April 14, with 17 per cent of the valid votes province-wide or even less, could win a majority of the seats in the next Quebec legislature.

(You can do the math yourself. It takes 63 out of the 125 seats in the National Assembly for a majority. With three major parties, one of them could win every one of those seats with only 34 per cent of the votes in each riding, if the other two parties split the rest of the votes evenly.

Factor in votes for minor candidates, and it could win with even fewer votes. It wouldn’t need a single vote in the other 62 ridings.)

It is a real possibility that a party rejected by more than 60 per cent of the voters will form a “majority” government.

And it is possible, even probable, that another majority government will be elected in Quebec with less than half the overall vote, as in seven of the last nine general elections.

And the Americans think that they have it bad because of Florida.

As it turns out, the ADQ could be the spoiler factor here. If they succeed in splitting the nationalist vote enough in certain ridings to allow the Liberals to edge the PQ, then the Liberals could have a shot. If they steal more support from Liberal ridings, giving the PQ the spoiler vote, than we’re sure to have another five years of separatist government.

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