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Parti Québécois

The Parti Québécois is a political party which advocates social democracy and independence for Quebec, a province of the Canadian federation since 1867. Members and supporters of the PQ are sometimes called Péquistes (pronounced [peˈkists]--the word is derived from the French pronunciation of the party's initials).

The PQ is the result of the 1968 merger between René Lévesque's moderate Mouvement souveraineté-association (Movement for Sovereignty-Association) and the Ralliement national. Following its creation, the radical Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale held a general assembly which voted its dissolution. Its former members were invited to join the new Parti Québécois. The radical element of the party has maintained a strong influence since its inception.

Its primary goals were and still are to obtain the complete political, economic and social independence for the Quebec political nation. In the 1976 provincial election, the Parti Québécois was elected to form the government of Quebec with René Lévesque as its leader. This was cause for celebration among many Quebecers, but resulted in panic and a mass exodus among many of the province's anglophone workers and business people.

The first PQ government, elected in 1976, was known as the "republic of teachers" for its high number of candidates teaching at the university level. The PQ was the first government to recognize the First Peoples' right to self-determination. The PQ passed laws on public consultations and the financing of political parties, which insured equal financing of political parties and limited contributions by individuals to $3000. However, the most important legacy of the PQ is the Charter of the French Language (the so-called Bill 101), which made French the sole official language of Quebec while officially guaranteeing the rights of the English-speaking community.

The Parti Québécois has initiated two referenda to begin negotiation for independence. The first occurred in 1980 and was rejected by 60 per cent of voters. With the failure of the Charlottetown Accord and the Meech Lake Accord, the question of Quebec's status remained unresolved and another referendum was initiated in 1995. It was rejected by a slim margin, less than one per cent. Then premier Jacques Parizeau stated that the loss was caused by "money and the ethnic vote" as well as by the divided votes amongst francophones.

The Bloc Québécois is a Canadian federal party with close ties to the Parti Québécois.

Leaders of the Parti Québécois

Other Quebec political parties

See also:

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