Is the Québec Secession Movement Dead? Perspectives After Canada’s 2015 Federal Election

  • Julián Castro-ReaEmail author
  • Jessica Weller


Recent superficial analyses argue that the decline in support for nationalist parties in Québec is an expression of the fact that separation of that province from Canada is a political issue that is declining and will eventually disappear. However, reality in the field shows a whole different story. Sovereigntist parties (Parti Québécois, Bloc Québécois) retain a core constituency no matter what, and support for sovereignty has remained strong in the province. More importantly, opinion polls on sovereignty remain consistent with a cyclical pattern, affected by political events of the time.

This article shows that support for the sovereignty option in Québec depends on two main variables: the strategies that are adopted by parties and organizations in favour of sovereignty, and the policies put forward by the federal government, changing the institutional environment within which the debate takes place. Federal policies have so far been more successful than sovereigntist strategies, and this has affected mostly organizations favouring sovereignty rather than the independence option itself.

Evidence to test this hypothesis is gathered by analyzing the political developments related to the debate occurred after the 1995 referendum; expressed in federal reforms, voting patterns and opinion polls. The article substantiates the prediction that the sovereignty option in Québec is well and alive, so another referendum on the issue is likely if sovereigntist organizations manage to refine their message and the federal government shows inflexibility in accommodating the Francophone province’s claims for recognition and respect for its autonomy.


Canadian politics Québec sovereignty Independence movement Separation referendum 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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