For the first time in nearly 14 years, the Parti Québécois will form Quebec’s next government. This in itself is incredible for the sovereignist party and its leader Pauline Marois, both of which were teetering on political oblivion barely a year ago. Just last summer, Marois faced down four deserting péquiste MNAs, an attempted putsch by backers of former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe and an electorate that was decidedly ambivalent to her charms. There’s a reason her supporters call her dame de béton—Lady Concrete.
Yet the victory of Quebec’s first female Premier is nonetheless qualified. The PQ won office with less than 32 per cent of the vote, it is the fourth-lowest showing in PQ’s 42-year electoral history. It is 3.3 percentage points lower than just four years ago, when the party became Quebec’s Official Opposition. It is why, despite the overwhelming and near-chronic unpopularity of Jean Charest’s Liberals, Lady Concrete was unable to form a majority government.