Marie-Victorin: an unusual partial

If there is a moment to circle in your calendar to anticipate what is to come in politics in Quebec, it is indeed Marie-Victorin’s by-election next Monday.

For the first time since the pandemic, voters will be able to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the Legault government.

It is through this partial that a momentum may be formed in favor of one of the political parties.

let’s go back

As proof: the by-election of Louis-Hébert in 2017.

At the time, liberal fatigue was widespread among Quebecers.

However, the pending opposition was not defined.

Then, a year before the election, the CAQ delighted the riding of Louis-Hébert where Sam Hamad, Liberal minister, had been elected since 2003. A certain Geneviève Guilbault was elected there.

“Imagine: if it’s possible to take Louis-Hébert, it’s possible to take almost all the ridings,” said François Legault, then third leader of the opposition, quite rightly.

The way was paved. The CAQ became the government in waiting.

From 28% before the Louis-Hébert by-election, it was close to 39% four months later – as indicated by our analysis of the Léger polls before and after this by-election.

A year later, the CAQ was elected in Quebec with more than 37% of the vote.

Who will come out on top?

Marie-Victorin’s by-election marks a similar moment.

It may not define the next government, but it announces a political dynamic.

If the CAQ wins, his re-election is launched. We will see that the pandemic discontent is a thing forgiven.

The PQ, he plays outright quits or doubles.

Marie-Victorin has been a PQ member since 1985.

A defeat would be a disaster: if he is not able to keep Marie-Victorin with a quality candidate like Pierre Nantel, what can he hope for?

The PQ would risk becoming an “old thing cluttering up the political landscape”, to quote René Lévesque.

A victory would be a breath of fresh air.

The leader of the PQ will be able to affirm that the time of defeats is over, and announce the beginning of a new time, as Renée Claude sang.

We can believe that a PQ victory will impose a nationalist program between now and the election.

Especially for the CAQ, which will always be able to suffocate the nationalist-PQ vote by monopolizing the linguistic issue of the moment, Bill 101 in CEGEP.

Éric Duhaime’s PCQ will want to show that it is not just a simple populist agitator whose only ability is to get people talking about it. If he succeeds in getting ahead of one of the other political parties, it will be mission accomplished.

For the PLQ, we have the impression that he is already looking forward to the Marie-Victorin test being behind him, knowing that he will most likely fail it. His break with the French-speaking electorate will be formalized by the ballot box.

For QS, he will have to show that his opposition is not only media. That voters, outside of Montreal and university towns, can consider it a credible political option, which alas! is not yet the case.


The last few years have been unprecedented in Quebec politics: opposition has never been so fragmented in this way. Four opposition parties, four parties below 20%.

Disgruntled CAQ voters have a choice between a leftist, a rightist, a sovereignist and a staunchly federalist alternative.

But no party has yet formed a credible alternative to the Legault government.

Marie-Victorin’s partial will then be able to play this role: the designation of the real opponent of François Legault.

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