In a win that could signify a devastating blow to the sovereignty movement, Philippe Couillard has led the Quebec Liberal Party to a majority government in the Quebec election.
The campaign has been called one of the nastiest provincial elections in decades.
Mudslinging over ethics and a focus on whether another sovereignty referendum would eventually be held dominated the campaign.
Incumbent Pauline Marois, whose Parti Quebecois formed a minority government in 2012, was seeking a majority government this time around.
When the campaign kicked off 33 days ago, the leader of the PQ was extremely confident she could secure a majority. But the PQ were knocked out of office just 18 months after coming to power.
How the party leaders did
Liberal Leader Couillard emerged victorious in his riding of Roberval with nearly 60 per cent of the vote. He was a comfortable winner over Parti Quebecois incumbent Denis Trottier, who had held the riding since the 2007.
Couillard was running in the riding where his home is located, in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region north of Quebec City.
The PQ campaign was derailed by a string of blunders, most notably a fist pump from a star candidate.
When the PQ unveiled Pierre Karl Peladeau as a candidate, the media mogul thrust his fist into the air and vowed to make Quebec a country.
“That had not been the narrative that the PQ was entering the election on. In fact they knew that wasn’t the winning card, and Peladeau undercut them,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.
Couillard pounced and repeatedly told voters during the campaign that they were choosing between his Liberals or another referendum on Quebec sovereignty.
In the end, Peladeau won his seat in Saint-Jerome. Marois, for her part, lost in her Charlevoix-Cote-de-Beaupres riding to Liberal candidate Caroline Simard.
CAQ leader François Legault won his riding of L’Assomption after urging voters fed up with the Liberals and the PQ to give his party a chance. Legault’s popularity surged following strong performances during the leaders’ debates.
Françoise David, co-leader for Quebec Solidaire, kept her Montreal-area seat of Gouin. Andres Fontecilla, however, was denied a seat in the Assemblée Nationale, losing to Liberal incumbent Gerry Sklavounos in Laurier-Dorion.
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