- David Boudeweel-Lefebvre
Election night guide
We’ve reached the end of the road. The 2022 Québec election campaign is now over, and final votes will be cast today. Tonight’s the night we’ll find out where each of the five main parties will end up after Quebecers elect their next government.
Given that a record 23% of the province’s 6.3 million eligible voters took advantage of advance polling options, a third of all election ballots quite possibly have been cast already. (That is, if total voter turnout ends up being somewhere around 70%, like in the previous two provincial elections.)
Heading into election night, here’s a guide to what to count as a win or loss for each party, key ridings to watch, and what the future holds for each leader.
François Legault and the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ)
Starting with 76 seats at dissolution: The CAQ entered the election campaign as the governing party and prohibitive favourite. In addition to reaping the benefits of incumbency, they have the biggest electoral machine and a consistently high approval rate working to their advantage.
What would count as a win? Remaining in government with a majority is always a win, of course. But if they really want their return to power to feel like more of a gain than a loss, the CAQ will need to capture more ridings in Montréal and its surrounding suburbs (Mille-Îles, Laporte, Maurice-Richard), steal some seats from the Parti québécois (Gaspé, Duplessis, Rimouski) and perform well in more non-urban areas (Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Hull). We’ll count their performance as a real win over their previous election results if they get to at least 85 seats.
What would be considered a loss? Anything below 80 seats and 36% of the popular vote would be seen as a disappointment. Ending up in this position is a real possibility, as the CAQ has spent this election campaign fending off four other parties putting up a serious fight. We’ll be watching how they perform in Montréal ridings where they could win (Anjou-Louis-Riel, Maurice-Richard and Verdun). If they do not score there and have trouble in Québec City (Chauveau, Bellechasse, Vanier-Les Rivières), then they probably won’t get to 80.
What would qualify as a major win? Anything above 92 seats would demonstrate complete dominance over at least three other parties and would qualify as an all-time high score. This level of performance would give the CAQ one of the largest majorities in the history of the province and earn Legault a prominent place in the history books.
What would be a great loss? Returning to power without improving on the status quo would be a devastating result for the CAQ, whether they are re-elected with the same number of MNAs (or less) and/or popular vote below 34%. This would mean significant seat losses to at least one other party, and failure to capitalize on golden opportunities to make gains. This outcome would probably also mean that all four of the other major parties would have managed to get many representatives elected to the National Assembly, which would make governing more complicated for Legault.
What’s next for Legault? Assuming that his party is re-elected with the most seats, as expected, he will be sworn in once again as premier. He will have to do a lot of skillful maneuvering to keep his very ideologically diverse caucus united. If he returns to power with anything below 70 seats, there could end up being a discussion about the length of his term.
Dominique Anglade and the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP)
Starting with 27 seats at dissolution: The Liberals entered the 2022 election campaign strangely disorganized, and had a hard time filling a complete slate of candidates. They remain strong in Montréal, and since their voters tend to be more discrete, their support is often underestimated by polls.
What would count as a win? Earning about 23 seats would be seen as avoiding the worst, which at this point could be chalked up as a win for the Liberals, given their current state of affairs. But their leader would have to win her electoral division (Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne in Montréal) and the party would have to hang onto a few of their seats in Laval and regions beyond the Montréal area to truly call this an OK night for the Liberals.
What would be considered a loss? Anything below 19 or 20 seats would be a loss. It would mean an almost complete wipeout outside of Montréal and its suburbs. To get there, Québec solidaire would have to win Verdun, Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne and maybe a few other electoral divisions. Finishing fifth in votes from the French-speaking majority can also be defined as a real loss for the party.
What would qualify as a major win? Getting to 28+ ridings would be a small miracle for the Liberals, and would demonstrate that the party has managed to overcome its setbacks and retain core support. In 2018, the party won 31 ridings with 25% of the vote. This likely won’t be repeated in 2022, but that would be an astonishing performance from Anglade and Co.
What would be a great loss? Dropping down to 15 seats or less would be devastating and could jeopardize official opposition status for the Liberals. This could happen for two reasons: First, as is typically the case in Québec, when a party goes into free fall, it usually falls hard; for this to happen, a significant portion of the English-speaking electorate, and voters of immigrant descent, would have to turn their back on the Liberals — or just stay home. Second, a good night for the CAQ, Québec solidaire or Québec’s Conservatives would likely come at the expense of the Liberals. If two of these parties perform well this election, the Liberals could suffer a disastrous defeat.
What’s next for Anglade? If the Liberals earn 20 seats or less, or she loses her own riding, we do not see a reason for her to remain as party leader for very long. If her party manages to win in 24 ridings, with some seats outside of the Montréal area, she might be able to stay in the game. In any case, she can count on good offers from the private sector.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Québec solidaire (QS)
Starting with 10 seats at dissolution: This left-wing party has grown each election since 2007. They’re hoping to score even more seats and stabilize their popular support tonight.
What would count as a win? Getting to 15 seats would be a real win for QS, and would most likely mean a bigger breakthrough in Montréal. They’ll be looking for wins in ridings like Verdun, Maurice-Richard, and Bourassa-Sauvé. A positive election outcome could also come from gains in regions beyond Montréal, mainly Rimouski and Saint-François (Eastern Townships). Coming in second place among French-speaking voters would also be a significant achievement.
What would be considered a loss? Winning only a few new seats would be a disappointment. Any losses outside of Montréal would also have to be offset with wins elsewhere. Ending up with less popular support than in 2018 would also mean the party has essentially lost the election campaign.
What would qualify as a major win? Earning official opposition status. This would probably require north of 18 seats, which is entirely possible, especially if the CAQ overperforms and steals ridings form the Liberals. For this to happen, QS needs to hang onto all its current ridings, score in Montréal and pick up a few seats in the Eastern Townships and in municipalities with large student populations. This would be challenging to pull off, but not out of the question.
What would be a great loss? Winning less than three new seats would be a terrible outcome. Falling short of second place in at least 25 ridings would also be a major defeat for the party. Finishing at least third in the seat count is necessary for this election not to be considered a complete failure for QS.
What’s next for Nadeau-Dubois? Unless the worst-case scenario happens, he isn’t going anywhere. If his party manages to win 19-20 seats, and official opposition status, he would be a hero. This would mean enough support to move the QS a bit more towards the centre, to truly make a play for more power in 2026.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and the Parti québécois (PQ)
Starting with 7 seats at dissolution: The PQ began this election wondering if they would survive and win even a single seat. After two good debate performances from their leader, they managed to make a comeback. They mostly took the high road and spent more of the campaign focusing on positive messages compared to other parties.
What would count as a win? Surviving as a party and winning 5-6 seats. When you’re already hanging off a cliff, making sure you don’t lose your grip and fall is all that really matters, so that you can live to fight another day. To keep alive, the PQ has to win seats in Gaspésie, Côte-Nord and Rimouski. Îles-de-la-Madeleine would be a nice bonus. A win for their leader in Camille-Laurin (Montréal) would also provide a strong vital sign.
What would be considered a loss? Winning only a couple of seats. If the party loses Gaspé, Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Bonaventure, it would feel like a loss, even if the leader wins his seat in Montréal. Given that the PQ is basically only fighting against the CAQ at the seat level, losing would mean getting run over by the governing party.
What would qualify as a major win? 9+ seats would be a great win. It would mean keeping most of their current seats, plus netting a few surprise wins — these could come from Labelle, Joliette and Bertrand.
What would be a great loss? One seat or zero. Unlikely at this point, but the PQ does not have a strong machine to get the vote out. However, their winnable portion of the electorate is a bit older and tends to be more motivated than potential supporters for some of the other parties.
What’s next for St-Pierre Plamondon? If he gets 3-4 seats, including his own, he’ll likely get to stay put. He has proven a good leader and certainly deserves to run in 2026 with a better team. If he makes it to the National Assembly, he’ll probably be effective enough to make his mark. If the PQ achieves a major win this election, we’ll likely start seeing renewed discussion about a potential merger with QS.
Éric Duhaime and Parti conservateur du Québec (PCQ)
Starting with 1 seat at dissolution (after an MNA from the CAQ crossed the floor): The PCQ has used opposition to COVID-19 response measures to forge a path to rebirth as a viable provincial party. At just 1% in the polls a year ago, support for Québec's Conservatives skyrocketed following Duhaime’s nomination as leader. This election they're mostly looking to make gains in the Québec City area.
What would count as a win? Winning at least 3 seats, including the leader’s in Chauveau (Québec City). This would be the party’s first time winning any seats during a general election since it was re-founded in 2009, and would secure a meaningful presence for the provincial Conservatives in the National Assembly. Winning at least 15% of the popular vote is also vital for a victory. Being third in total votes among the French-speaking majority would be a nice plus.
What would be considered a loss? Getting no MNAs elected. The party would survive, but its coverage by media and ability to impact government would be greatly reduced. Election campaign polls so far have been split on whether this is a likely or a completely impossible scenario.
What would qualify as a major win? 6+ seats. From most models, we can infer that if the PCQ manages to win 4 seats, they will likely get to 7 or 8. Keep an eye on Bellechasse, Vanier-Les Rivières, Chutes-de-la-Chaudière and Lotbinière-Frontenac. If the Conservatives win one of these early on, or have leads in many, then we can assume that the Québec City region has moved towards Duhaime. This would signal a bad night for the CAQ. Finishing fourth in seats would be a remarkable achievement for the PCQ.
What would be a great loss? No seats and a poor performance in the popular vote, somewhere below 13%. This would mean that anti-CAQ sentiment was not that strong and would probably mean a very strong majority for Legault. This would put the Conservatives almost back to square one.
What’s next for Duhaime? He probably won’t be going anywhere, unless his party suffers the worst of all possible worst-case scenarios. Duhaime has said he is committed to giving 10 years to political life as PCQ leader, and by the end of election night he will not even have reached the one year mark.