Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, 2023 political personality of “Devoir”

After climbing to the top of the polls and before a year 2024 which promises to be strewn with challenges, the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, is our political personality of the year 2023.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is no longer talked about in the polls.

In 2022, when the Parti Québécois (PQ) was surviving at 9% voting intentions a few months before the start of the general election campaign, it was nevertheless the norm, maintains one of its closest advisors, the director of PQ communications Louis Lyonnais. “We have been so used to being told that the PQ was going to die,” he says.

Everything changed in 2023. “The number of times Paul came back from interviews in the last year with a big smile. The difference in reception… There was, really, a switch. There, we listen. »

Irony of fate: the polls prove “PSPP” more right than ever. In November, the opinion survey of an obscure Toronto firm, Pallas Data, gave the sovereignist party a lead for the first time in ten years (30%). The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) moved to second place, with 23% of support. Then, at the beginning of December, the methodical Léger firm confirmed Pallas’s figures in a punch poll where the PQ received 31% of voting intentions, compared to 25% for the CAQ.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is the first to say that the fall of the government party in public opinion partly explains these results. “There is a legitimate amount of dissatisfaction with the government. Then there is a good part, people, they tell us: “we appreciate your work”,” he said on December 6, a few hours after learning of the most recent Léger probe.

“I take full responsibility,” François Legault told journalists from the parliamentary press that day.

The fruits of the oath

The PQ political year began on January 31. Four months after their election, the three elected representatives of the sovereignist party officially entered the Blue Room without having sworn allegiance to the crown, a first in 150 years of parliamentarism. “It gives us the taste of other victories,” said Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon, a patriot flag attached to his buttonhole. Nothing suggested at that time that he would seek a new victory in October, in the Jean-Talon partial, bringing the number of PQ deputies in the National Assembly to four.

In March, PQ activists gave PSPP a good pat on the back by supporting it with 98.5% in a vote of confidence at the political party’s congress. In the category of “leader who would make the best prime minister”, he now obtains the approval of 28% of the Quebec population, according to Léger. François Legault appears in second place, with 19% of support.

So what has happened since 2022, when less than a twentieth of Quebecers saw “PSPP” claiming the seat of prime minister?

In October, the PQ created a surprise in Jean-Talon, a historically liberal riding, occupied since 2019 by the CAQ. At the end of a 34-day campaign, the PQ candidate, Pascal Paradis, amassed an astonishing total of 11,300 votes (44%), far ahead of the CAQ candidate, Marie-Anik Shoiry (21%).

It was the first time in history that a sovereignist party took over this riding in Quebec City. All this at the end of a campaign which initially focused on the theme of the cost of living. Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon has also chosen to postpone the submission of his portrait of the finances of a sovereign Quebec until the first days of the electoral period. “We fear that our media space, instead of being devoted to our partial in Jean-Talon, will be devoted to a completely different subject,” he said.

It was four times that the PQ leader postponed the presentation of the document, inspired by the budget drawn up in 2005 by François Legault. He finally revealed it on October 23, in a press conference at Laval University. Conclusion: the separation of Quebec would not only be “viable”, but “profitable”.

Despite the political rise of the PQ, support for independence has not changed in the polls. In the latest Léger survey, only 69% of PQ voters said they were sovereignists. And PSPP is facing more and more blows from the upper echelons of the CAQ. In mid-December, on in error,” he wrote.

In March, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon entered the congress of members of his political party to the sound of the anthem Still alive, by Gerry Boulet. In 2023, the PQ leader “fell back[é] on his boots.” The next few years will tell him if he can go “all the way”.

The finalists: Bernard Drainville and Pascale St-Onge

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