Sunday, February 05, 2006

Quebec provincial politics: The fragmentation

This is just a preliminary post about an interesting new development in Quebec politics - the formation of a new, overtly left-wing sovereigntist party, Quebec solidaire, which had its inaugural conference this past weekend.

Quebec's provincial politics have long had some rather frustrating allignments. The provincial Liberals, reinvented as a leftish party in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, defined themselves in opposition to the right-wing Union Nationale. The formation of the Parti Quebecois in the late 60s took over the left-wing of Quebec politics, but also alligned socialism with sovereignty. Ever since the late-1970s, when the Union Nationale collapsed, the Liberals have been the only serious (quasi-)federalist party, but also the party of the right. Left-wing federalist voters have had two undesirable options: hold their noses and vote PQ, and vote against referenda on sovereignty, or hold their noses and vote Liberal and accept less progressive policies.

The arrival of the ADQ on the provincial scene several years ago started shaking up this balance - a neo-liberal, quasi-sovereigntist party. It seems that PQ is also undergoing some internal ideological tensions. Lucien Bouchard started tacking the party towards the right, and the selection of Andre Boisclair seems to have aggravated the party's left flank into spinning off a new party.

I wonder if we are close to seeing a similar fragmentation in the federalist camp? Will left-wing federalists form their own viable party? The allignment of right-wing/federalist/Liberal vs. left-wing/sovereigntist/PQ has been stifling debate over issues in the province. A real change in the party system would be quite refreshing.

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