Here, take my seat - please. After Pauline Marois became leader of the Parti Québécois in late June, an undisclosed number of PQ members of the National Assembly individually offered to sacrifice themselves so she could enter the Assembly.
That is, some PQ MNAs already want out of the jobs for which they campaigned only last March. Sitting as members of the third party in the Assembly isn't what they bargained for. And even with a minority government in office, they don't seem to expect the PQ to be returned to power any time soon.
The lucky winner of the prize in Loto Marois, an excuse for quitting what has become a dead-end job after less than five months, is Rosaire Bertrand, whose riding of Charlevoix is one of only two the PQ held in the Quebec City region.
Premier Jean Charest is expected to call the by-election in time for Marois to enter the Assembly when the session resumes Oct. 16.
Five months after the March 26 election, it is finally sinking in that the PQ, which held power as recently as four years ago, has dropped to third-party status.
And not just in the PQ itself. At the annual convention of the Liberal Party's youth wing last weekend, Premier Jean Charest and his ministers scarcely bothered to waste breath on the PQ, concentrating their attacks on Mario Dumont instead.
To the Liberals, the PQ has become what its former leader, Jacques Parizeau, called an "objective ally"- the enemy of one's enemy. In the last election, the Liberals lost votes and seats to Dumont's ADQ, not the PQ. And the PQ competes with the ADQ for nationalist support.
The PQ might even help the minority Liberal government cling to power until it's ready to call an election.
Charest seemed to be preparing for an early election in his inaugural address at the opening of the new legislature in May, outlining a short program of actions that could be completed by the end of this year.
And after the government avoided defeat in the Assembly over its budget in June, the instant conventional wisdom was that it would not survive the vote on the budget next spring.
But for the government to be brought down in the three-party Assembly, the PQ would have to side with the official opposition ADQ.
And that's not likely to happen until the polls give them both reason to believe they'll probably improve their position in an election - the ADQ by taking power, and the PQ by at least forming the official opposition.
But the two present opposition parties are connected vases that draw support from the same pool of nationalist voters. If gains in support for one come at the expense of the other, then as one rises, the other will fall. And the more interest one of the opposition parties has in forcing an election, the less the other will have.
At this point, the PQ's prospects don't appear bright. In seats won, total votes received and proportion of the popular vote, it has declined in each of the last three elections. Its 28 per cent of the vote on March 26 was its smallest share since the first election it contested in 1970, and the 1.1 million votes it received were the fewest since 1973.
Former PQ leader Bernard Landry once expounded what became known as the "dying federalist" theory, to the effect that sovereignty was inevitable because federalist voters tended to be older.
But now look whose support is aging. A PQ internal report obtained by the Quebec City daily Le Soleil says that in the March 26 election, voters in the ridings it carried were generally older than those in the ones captured by the ADQ. The PQ took eight of the 10 seats with the most voters from 45 to 64 years old, and the ADQ nine out of the 10 with the most voters aged from 25 to 44. And this was with the youthful André Boisclair still leading the PQ.
More than 20 years ago, a political scientist at Quebec City's Université Laval, Vincent Lemieux, predicted that the PQ would prove to be a "generational party" and would give way to a newer nationalist party after the turn of the new century. It appears as though his prediction might be coming true. No wonder some PQ MNAs appear to be looking for a way out.
The Péquistes are finally realizing: 'We're No. 3!'
Many PQ MNAs were only too happy to offer their seats to Marois