This is from the Star.
Charest was correct in his judgment that the ADQ was collapsing and that this would be enough for him to obtain a majority, but the majority was less than was thought by many. Probably Harper managed to help the PQ with his uncomplimentary remarks about Quebec and separatism. The ADQ is little but a remnant maybe not even a saving one! On the Left Quebec Solidaire managed to win a seat.
Quebec premier wins third straight mandate; ADQ's Dumont to quit
December 09, 2008 Andrew ChungQuebec Bureau Chief
MONTREAL–Liberal Premier Jean Charest won his third consecutive Quebec election last night, capturing a narrow majority over a resurgent Parti Québécois.
The election also saw the decimation of the Action démocratique du Québec; leader Mario Dumont tearfully announced he would step down.
In an election that recorded the worst voter turnout in Quebec's history – at 56 per cent – Charest won 66 of the National Assembly's 125 seats. Pauline Marois and the separatist Parti Québécois scored 51, a much stronger result than expected. The ADQ won just seven.
In another twist, voters in the Montreal riding of Mercier elected Amir Khadir, the first candidate from the ultra-left wing, sovereignist party Québec Solidaire. The party has been trying to capture sovereignists disillusioned by the PQ's recent lukewarm embrace of sovereignty.
Charest becomes the first premier to capture a third consecutive mandate since Maurice Duplessis won in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
At a raucous assembly in his home town of Sherbrooke, Charest underscored what the victory means.
"In a period of economic incertitude, many Quebecers recognized the necessity to have a government of stability. They reinforced our team in choosing to elect a majority Liberal government."
Charest said the result delivers a consensus to implement his priorities on the economy.
In a result that will be greeted positively in Ottawa, it appeared Quebecers agreed with Charest's assertion from the outset of the campaign that they were to choose the team best positioned to lead Quebec in a global economic crisis.
In Quebec, the Liberals have historically benefited from a perception as the best managers of the economy.
But last night's results raise questions as to whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper's aggressive attacks on separatists in Ottawa last week contributed to the sovereignists' healthy result.
"You know," Marois said with a wide smile at a rally in Montreal last night, "the results will probably surprise many people."
She told the large crowd that Charest's majority was small and that "this evening we were reminded that the PQ is a grand party, a party that has rediscovered its enthusiasm."
She said would form the "strongest official opposition since the Quiet Revolution" of the 1960s.
The changed electoral map was a remarkably different picture than that which emerged on election night 2007, when Charest nearly lost the premier's chair to Dumont's ADQ and ended up leading a minority government.In 2007, the Liberals won a minority with 48 seats, while the ADQ had 41 and the PQ 36. The Liberals got 33.08 per cent of the popular vote, compared with 30.8 per cent for the ADQ and 28.33 per cent for the PQ.
Yesterday, the Liberals won 42 per cent of the popular vote, the PQ 35.2 per cent , the ADQ 16.4 and Québec Solidaire 3.8 per cent
Charest's political calculation in calling a snap election was based in part on the current weakness of the ADQ.
In his home riding of Rivière du-Loup, a subdued Dumont spent time thanking his many MNAs who were defeated. Analysts projected Dumont's failure as a result of his perception as a "one man show" with no credible team to lead the province.
Then, surprising the crowd and his elected members alike, Dumont told the crowd, "You will not be surprised to learn that I will not be at the head of my party for the next election."
His voice breaking, Dumont, who founded the party 14 years ago, added, "the time is for me to turn the page."
Dumont said he would stay on until a new leader is chosen and said the ADQ is still relevant in Quebec politics.
The campaign was an atypical onw that was largely devoid of any talk of sovereignty, and heavily overshadowed by the political crisis that shut down parliament in Ottawa last week.
It was also one that a record number of Quebecers weren't interested in, partly out of fatigue – it was their sixth (federal and provincial) election in five years.
Charest accomplished his stronger victory by dramatically transforming his politics and personage in the province. In 2007 Quebecers viewed him as inveterate, arrogant, and out to turn upside down the traditional nanny state.
But while leading a minority, he was perceived as much more conciliatory and his governance has been characterized primarily as avoiding controversial decisions.