A Brief History of Democracy

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quebec's Smaller Parties Unite to Oppose the Despot

An improbable coalition came together in Quebec's National Assembly to oppose the adoption of the legislature introduced by the Quebec Liberals that would suspend the powers of the Director General of Elections. Members of the right of center Democratic Action Party of Quebec joined with the single deputy from the left wing Solidarity Quebec and two independents to denounce the actions of the Charest government and to demand that a proportional voting system be adopted as had been promised by the Liberals.

As could be expected, the Minister responsible for the file played to the plight of the voters in the outlying regions and accused the coalition of committing treason towards these regions. Extremely harsh words but we need to remember that there is a by-election at the end of the month in one of the ridings that is set to disappear from the electoral map proposed by the Director General of Elections.

What will be interesting to see is how the opposition party, the Parti Quebecois, will react. They have a good chance to win the seat that is now being contested. However, it was Rene Levesque, the spiritual founder of the party, that brought forward the legislation to create the institution of the Director General of Elections in order to put to an end the practice of political parties gerrymandering the electoral map. To support the Liberals motion would be, in effect, a rebuke of the Levesque heritage.

It remains to be seen if the legislation will be adopted, and if so will it be simply a majority vote with support from only the Liberals. In this case, considering that the Liberals owe their majority government to the systemic discrimination inherent to the first-past-the-post voting method. -- in reality, they have the support of less than one of four eligible voters -- the suspension of the Director General of Election's powers is a jest fitting a banana republic.

In any case, this is a very interesting political context that has developed as we head to the Quebec Appeal Court to ask that the present voting system be declared null and void.

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