6:45 pm: Libs 49 (35%), PQ 30 (31%), ADQ 35 (27%)
I haven't been able to get near a TV for so I don't know what the talking heads are saying but I, for one, am really surprised by the ration of seats to popular votes for each party. The common consensus all along has been that a popular vote total like this would probably mean a PQ minority government (or close to it), which means we're getting some weird vote splits somewhere.
6:55 pm: The ADQ has just pulled ahead. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the three parties come out on top when all is said and done...
7:00 pm: Regardless of how this vote turns out, I do think it would be fair to call Jean Charest one of the most overrated politicians of the last 20 years.
7:38 pm: Still neck and neck between Charest and Dumont, with the popular vote almost identical for all three parties...which means, for once, the PLQ is actually being helped by the vote distribution.
With the PQ solidly in third place and that party's penchant to knifing successful leaders in the back, I think it's safe to say that the Andre Boisclair experiment will be coming to a close very soon. Does Gilles Ducceppe jump? I guess it depends on federal election timing.
7:47 pm: Jean Charest down by 400 votes in Sherbrooke to the PQ. Which means it's highly possible that the Liberals form government, Charest resigns as PLQ leader, and someone else becomes Premier. In the comments section, there's already some speculation he could run for Harper in the next federal election. If you're into politics, it's impossible not to have been fascinated by this election.
8:19 pm: Lowest vote percentage by the PLQ since confederation: 33.78% (1976)
Lowest vote percentage by the PQ since 1976: 33.24% (2003)
8:21 pm: Everyone has called it as a Liberal minority. But with 161/212 polls reporting, Charest trails badly in his riding. The big question now becomes, does he stay or does he go?
8:33 pm: Got a bus to catch and I likely won't update until later tonight so I thought I'd muse a bit on the federal implications of this.
For the Liberals, a Boisclair win was obviously the best case scenario for them so Dion certainly doesn't get very lucky in this one. I can't imagine anyone being afraid of a referendum after seeing this result. Let's face it, with the exception of the Adscam protest vote, the PQ/BQ have been on the decline over the past decade (in part thanks to the Chretien/Dion Plan B). I think the BQ is heading for big loses next campaign, especially if Ducceppe jumps provincially.
For Harper, he can certainly claim that his brand of federalism helped crush the PQ into the ground but, at the same time, he certainly didn't do much to help re-elect Jean Charest and the budget tax cuts appear to have somewhat backfired, both inside Quebec and outside. It'll be one of those things which everyone can spin pretty effortlessly.
9:42 pm: Mario Dumont speaking now. I wonder if he'll thank the "anti-ethnic vote" for this one...
9:45 pm: Jean Charest is now declared to have won his seat in Sherbrooke.
9:48 pm: Radio Canada is now reporting that Sherbrooke has been won by Al Gore.
Labels: Quebec election