UPDATE 5-Quebec separatists lose election, referendum avoided

Tue Apr 8, 2014 12:21am EDT
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* Anti-separatist Quebec Liberal Party to form majority govt

* Defeated separatist party leader to resign

* Quebec separatist vote off political agenda for years

* Separatists remain defiant in defeat (Adds separatist leader to resign, fresh quotes)

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, April 7 (Reuters) - The anti-separatist Quebec Liberal Party won a majority government in provincial elections on Monday, eliminating the possibility of a new referendum on independence from Canada for several years and crushing the separatist Parti Quebecois.

The election in the mainly French-speaking province had turned into a referendum on whether to hold another vote on separating from Canada, and the answer appeared to be a resounding "Non."

The Quebec Liberals had warned incessantly that the Parti Quebecois, which had called the election in a bid to turn their minority government into a majority, would launch a referendum if it succeeded.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who is expected to lose her seat, announced she would resign as party head in view of the electoral defeat. Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard will now replace her as premier of the province.   Continued...