MONTREAL – Quebecers are waking up to a new political era this morning following a provincial election that swept the Liberals out of office and delivered a majority win for the Coalition Avenir Quebec.
The victory means a party other than the Liberals or the Parti Quebecois will govern the province for the first time in nearly half a century.
Leader Francois Legault led his team to victory following a 39-day campaign in which surveys suggested the party was locked in a dead heat with the Liberals in terms of popular support.
But the Coalition quickly surged ahead after the polls closed, eventually winning 74 of the province’s 125 ridings as it fared well among the crucial francophone electorate.
The Liberals kept 32 seats but one of the biggest shocks of the night was the once-mighty Parti Quebecois losing its official party status.
In fact, the PQ finished with fewer seats than Quebec solidaire, failed to win on the island of Montreal and saw leader Jean-Francois Lisee lose his own seat before resigning.
Legault, a former businessman and co-founder of Air Transat, has scheduled a news conference in Quebec City for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.
In his victory speech, Legault said his government faced immense challenges but is equipped to tackle them.
“Let’s work together to make Quebec stronger within Canada,” he told a cheering crowd.
Legault won his riding of L’Assomption, while Quebec solidaire co-spokespeople Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Manon Masse were both elected in their Montreal ridings.
Though his party was ousted from power, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard kept his seat in Roberval, about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City. The outgoing premier said he would take a few days to ponder his future.
Quebec wasn’t the only province to force out a longstanding Liberal government this year.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives won a majority in June, putting an end to 15 years of Liberal rule.
In Quebec, the Liberals were elected in 2003 and had held power since, with the exception of a 19-month PQ minority government between 2012 and 2014.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016