François Legault, who has often positioned himself as the candidate for the economy, addresses the issue less often than all his opponents for the post of Prime Minister when he is online, according to data from the Chaire de leadership en enseignement des sciences. digital social sciences from Laval University (CLESSN).
After compiling all of the chefs’ Twitter posts from July 1 to September 14, the researchers found that Mr. Legault spoke about the economy 28 times. In comparison, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has written on the subject 39 times, Éric Duhaime 54 times, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois 62 times and Dominique Anglade a grand total of 89 times.
In all, Mr. Legault addresses this issue in only one publication in ten (12%), while the subject occupies a quarter (26%) of communications on Twitter from Ms. Anglade.
In its platform, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) presents five concrete promises explicitly linked to the cost of living, calculates the CLESSN. This is less than the Liberal Party (PLQ), whose platform has “19 commitments that are linked at least rhetorically” to this question, underlines researcher Alexandre Fortier-Chouinard. Québec solidaire and the Conservative Party each have two, and the Parti Québécois had not yet unveiled its full platform when compiling the results.
An impossible choice
While the consumer price index climbed 7.6% last July (and no less than 8.1% in June), gasoline prices reached record highs and the Bank of Canada has just raised its key rate to 3.25%, the cost of living is causing anxiety for many Quebecers. A Léger poll released Wednesday even indicates that personal finances and inflation are the two biggest sources of stress in the province, declared by 19% and 17% of respondents, respectively.
This reality could harm Mr. Legault, according to experts.
“Generally speaking, when the economy is doing well, the outgoing government does better than when the economy is doing less well, regardless of its responsibility in managing the economy,” explains the assistant professor at the School of Applied Politics. from the University of Sherbrooke Jean-François Daoust.
The causes of inflation are multiple and sometimes go beyond Quebec borders, the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia being among the most cited. But such considerations often carry little weight with voters, according to Professor Daoust.
When an outgoing government finds itself in such a situation, “it can have different strategies,” he says. The most intuitive, let’s say, is to divert the subject, therefore to talk about issues that we have more control over (…), but there are other strategies that can be effective, for example saying that in fact, if the economy is doing badly, it is because we have had obstacles in the way” from the opposition or another level of governance.
In the TVA Face-to-face debate on Thursday evening, “Prime Minister Legault mainly focused on what he perceived as the good sides of the economy, remarks the assistant professor of political science at the Laval Shannon Dinan University. For example, he often talked about the labor shortage as if it was good for the economy and economic growth, instead of dwelling too much on inflation like other parties, for example the PLQ”.
If it can be a thorny subject for the outgoing government, for the opposition parties, “it is in their interest to make the economy a visible issue”, she explains.
The economy party
Professor Daoust does not, however, go so far as to say that the economy is Mr. Legault’s Achilles heel. If previously the PLQ was considered to be “the party of the economy, he says, for ten years, and especially since 2018, this favorable attitude of the citizens has crumbled” and now the two political formations, CAQ like PLQ, share the distinction more or less equally.
“I don’t believe that François Legault is so disadvantaged when speaking of the economy (…), but the CAQ is doing even better in certain other areas” such as immigration, he specifies.
In addition, voters for whom the economy is the most important issue are much more likely to vote for the CAQ than any other party, whether left or right, according to CLESSN’s analysis.
In a poll that the Chair commissioned from the Léger firm last August, and which also serves as a pilot for the Datagotchi project, left-wing voters who identified the economy as their main concern were 46% leaning towards the CAQ, followed by 23 % for Québec solidaire. On the right, 50% thought they would vote for the CAQ, then 34% for the Conservative Party.
Even if Ms. Anglade is the one who writes the most about the economy, the PLQ is only the third choice of voters for whom this issue is a priority, whether they are on the right or on the left.
As of Thursday, the poll aggregator Qc125 estimated that 39% of Quebecers intended to vote for the CAQ. The PLQ, in second place, was still far behind, with 17% of voting intentions.