Will there be a minority government in Quebec?

Although we are very close to election day, it is difficult to predict which party will form the next government, as there are tight races in several ridings. According to the latest surveys, the survey is based on Hill + Knowlton Strategies, the 42 nd government of Quebec.

In less than a week, Quebecers will have a new government. This government will be in power for the next four years or, if it is a minority government, for a shorter period.

What makes a government a minority government?  

Since the national assembly is made up of 125 MNAs, a party must win more than 63 seats to constitute a majority government. If the political party with the most elected representatives does not reach this critical threshold of 50 percent of seats, they will form a minority government and the opposition groups will hold more seats than the party in power, with the result that the Quebec national assembly will function very differently.

Examples of minority governments are relatively rare in Quebec. In our history, this situation has occurred only two times in the past:

  • 2012-2014  (40 th legislature): Government of the Parti Québécois led by Pauline Marois. The government won 54 seats.
  • 2007-2008  (38 th legislature): Government of the Quebec Liberal Party by Jean-Charest. The government won 48 seats.
  • 1878-1879 (a party of the 4 th legislature): Government of the Liberal “Egalitarian” Party led by Henri-Gustave Joly from Lotbinière. At the time, the national assembly counted 65 seats and 32 were won by this party.

The National Assembly of the Quebec National Assembly, as is currently the case. Such a situation means that the opposition groups and the MNAs hold more than the elected government.

It is important to note that a small government is much less stable and has a much shorter lifespan than a majority government because it must negotiate and collaborate more with the opposition groups. This coalition can not get along. Our parliamentary system is based on ministerial responsibility, meaning the assembly’s confidence in the government.

What functions do you have with a minority government?

Everything is different! Since the government has less than half of the seats at the assembly, it needs a sufficient number of independent MNAs to obtain a majority, for example to adopt its budget. If an agreement is not reached, the government may face a motion and then lose the confidence of the assembly, which would cause a new general election to be held.

A few characteristics:

  • Instability as the duration of such a government may vary between 12 and 24 months.
  • Less leeway in political actions since decision-making involves more than one party.
  • Slowdown and sometimes paralysis of the assembly which complicates the study of bills, the adoption of budget credits, etc.
  • Government actions are more short-sighted since collaboration with opposition groups is necessary.
  • Difficulty to adopt a bill under closure, a procedure used to limit the time spent at the beginning of the process and to accelerate the adoption of a bill.
  • Possibility of a strategic alliance on certain issues.
  • Sensitivity to public opinion. 

How can one influence a minority government?

In a few words, one must multiply communications with the political and administrative decision makers. Unlike when dealing with a majority government, discussions with close ministerial advisors or ministers themselves are not enough in the case of a minority government. Convincing the spokesperson of the official opposition responsible for the file is also not enough. Instead, it is necessary to obtain agreement from all the other political parties.

Although favored to make the legislative changes requested, the Minister of State must obtain the agreement of the other political parties. Thus, the party in power must govern with the opposition parties. As such, it is necessary to meet with, to educate and convince several MNAs of different political parties. Senior officials should also not be forgotten.

In this political context, the progress of your file will be more likely to accelerate your agreement between parties. However, the positive conclusion of your efforts continues to be unpredictable, in part, to the instability and duration of the government in power.