The Mario factor

ADQ could be the kingmaker in the next provincial election

Québec 2007 - ADQ

Who is afraid of Mario Dumont? Well, the Liberals and the PQ, for two.

Who's afraid of Mario Dumont? These days, he's become Public Enemy No. 1 for both Jean Charest and Andre Boisclair.
With the Parti Quebecois losing support since Boisclair took over and the Liberal Party stuck with a high-dissatisfaction rate, we've known for months the election would be tight.
With the Action democratique rising in the polls, poised to produce a number of three-way fights, final results are even more unpredictable.
Listening to the harsh attacks on Dumont, it's obvious Charest and Boisclair are worried. Even Quebec solidaire's Francoise David and Amir Khadir - remember them? - published a letter denouncing Dumont's "demagoguery" on reasonable accommodation.
Nothing reflected this worry more than Liberal star candidate Pierre Arcand's comparison of Dumont with Jean-Marie Le Pen, the xenophobic leader of the Front National in France.
Let's look at what probably lead to such a personal attack. One reason is that it's not uncommon for neophyte star candidates from outside politics to make mistakes when they're thrown into the cauldron of a heated pre-election period.
Politics is a craft that can't be learned in 24 hours. But with time, most star candidates learn the ropes. Last week, another neophyte, former journalist Bernard Drainville, made his own error when he interviewed Boisclair just days before he accepted the PQ's second offer for him to run.
But inexperience aside, it's likely Arcand's sortie reflected the message he got from Liberal brass that hunting season on Dumont is now open.
There was no doubt about this when Charest called Arcand's words "too strong," but used the occasion to go for Dumont's jugular. At a press conference, flanked by two other star candidates, Christine Saint-Pierre and Marguerite Blais, Charest called Dumont a "hollow politician" who changes his mind on a dime.
On the same day, Liberal ministers obviously had been handed the same line, calling him a "girouette" - a weather vane that changes positions with the wind.
That says the Liberal strategy is to undermine Dumont's credibility as a leader by portraying him as someone who can't be trusted.
That strategy could prove to be double-edged. It's risky to attack too harshly a leader who has come to be respected by a sizeable portion of the electorate. Liberals hope it will work. And it might.
But at a time when ADQ support appears more solid than it was in 2002, when it rode high in the polls, personal attacks against Dumont could backfire, turning him into a victim of unwarranted accusations.
Across Quebec, support for the ADQ is now more than 20 per cent, and the ADQ has a commanding lead in the Quebec City/Chaudieres-Appalaches region. There are reports the ADQ might be picking up support in the 450-area-code region as well.
At support of 20 or 21 per cent, the ADQ eats away at PQ votes. But if it goes above that, Liberals could start hurting, too.
ADQ support can't all be credited to Dumont's statements on reasonable accommodation. This week's Leger Marketing poll showed that, in fact, the issue comes way down on voters' priority list.
The ADQ's rise has more to do with the fact there's no love lost between the voters and either of the two main parties. With Boisclair failing to establish himself as a credible alternative to Charest, who is not so support himself, it's no wonder nearly one-quarter of voters are looking elsewhere.
It's also a fact ADQ support has risen steadily since its creation. In 1994, it got 6.5 per cent, 11.8 per cent in 1998 and 18.2 per cent in 2003. Even though Dumont was crushed when he got 18 per cent months after polls had put him in first place, he has since recovered.
This time, the ADQ factor is a major part of the equation, even raising the possibility of a minority government.
Anything can happen, but if ADQ support remains strong and the PQ falls below 30 per cent, Dumont could be the next leader of the official opposition.

Laissez un commentaire

Aucun commentaire trouvé