Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Charest wins third mandate

I congratulate Jean Charest for being returned to a third term in Québec and with a majority government although not near as large as he would have liked. The bad news, however, is for the democratic process. People generally tuned out this election and turnout was out 56.5%, the worst since 1927 when Tashereau won the second of his three-peat string (and the electorate was still all male no thanks to the objections of the Catholic Church to women voting). Charest needs to appreciate why over 43% of the people just tuned out all together -- which pretty much says a pox on all their houses, not just his.

Couple of notes: First the collapse of the ADQ, dropping from 41 to 7 seats should not be a surprise given that it was effectively a one-man band under "Super" Mario Dumont (not so super any more). It also dropped to 16.5% of the popular vote -- and under Québec rules it loses official party status as it needed 12 seats or 20% of the vote. Aspirations it may have had to become the legitimate successor to the old Union Nationale are pretty much dead for now.

And the big surprise, the emergence of Québec solidaire, the province's alternate independence party (which broke away from the PQ after concluding that it's become just another right-wing party). It got its first ever seat and vows to make promoting free health care its number one priority. As well as it should.

As is the case on many other issues in Canada, Québec leads the way on social policy and how health care is restructured in that province will have ramifications for the rest of us. Charest may have gotten the mandate he wants, but it's not just the economy on which his people have high expectations and for all of us, across Canada, health care is what it comes down to as much as the NHS does in the UK.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: