Quebec separatist party routed in election

Tue May 3, 2011 1:33am EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Quebec voters annihilated the separatist Bloc Quebecois in Monday's election, sweeping virtually all its legislators out of office in a huge blow for those seeking independence for the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province.

The party fell to just four seats from 47 in the last Parliament, cheering both those who want to keep Canada intact as well as financial markets fretting about the possibility of the country breaking up.

Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe promptly resigned, although he promised separatism was not dead.

"I am leaving you, but others will follow, until Quebec becomes a country," Duceppe told despondent supporters, many of them weeping bitterly.

The Bloc was traditionally supported both by hard-liners who wanted independence as well as those who liked the party because it stood up for their interests in Ottawa.

But Duceppe ran an uninspiring campaign that left his supporters vulnerable to a high-energy upbeat campaign by the left-leaning New Democrats of Jack Layton, who took 60 of the 75 seats in the province.

With only a few members of Parliament left, the Bloc will lose official party status in the House of Commons, eliminating funds for its staff.

"It would suggest the demise of the party as a whole," McGill University political scientist Antonia Maioni told CTV.   Continued...

<p>Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe (C) stands with his family at his federal election night headquarters in Montreal May 2, 2011. Duceppe lost his seat in Canada's federal election on Monday. The Bloc, which wants the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada, was hammered in the election. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>