Quebec separatists lose election, referendum avoided

Tue Apr 8, 2014 3:12pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (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.

The Liberals led in 70 of the 125 races, and the Parti Quebecois led in just 30, its lowest since 1989.

The Parti Quebecois took the lowest share of the vote since it won 23.1 percent in its first election in 1970. With 98.8 percent of voting stations reporting on Monday, it had 25.4 percent of the votes, against 41.5 percent for the Liberals.

It was nearly eclipsed by the upstart Coalition Avenir Quebec, a conservative party which also opposes a referendum. It

won or led in 22 seats and took 23.3 percent of the votes.   Continued...

Quebec's Premier elect Philippe Couillard gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the National Assembly in Quebec City, April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger