MONTREAL (AP) ― The Liberal Party won Quebec’s legislative elections Monday, in a crushing defeat for the main separatist party and major setback for the cause of independence in the French-speaking province.
The results will allow the Liberals, staunch supporters of Canadian unity, to form a majority government, less than 18 months after voters had booted the party from power for the first time in nine years amid allegations of corruption.
With 99 percent of the polling stations reporting, the Liberals had 41.4 percent of the vote and took 70 of the National Assembly’s 125 seats.
The separatist Parti Quebecois had 25.4 percent, and was on track to win 30 seats. The Coalition for Quebec’s Future, which downplayed the sovereignty issue to focus on the economy, was close behind with 23.3 percent and 22 seats.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, who led a minority government, called the snap elections last month in hopes of securing a majority for her PQ party. But the campaign stirred up speculation that a PQ majority would ultimately lead to another referendum on independence from Canada, an idea that has lacked support in recent years.
Fears of a referendum galvanized supporters of the Liberals. Marois suffered a humiliating defeat, even losing her own district seat, and announced that she would step down as party leader.