Everybody, it seems, except the actual party militants, who couldn't run from Duceppe fast enough:
Within 24 hours of announcing he was running for the leadership of the Parti Québécois, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe stunned the sovereignty movement by dropping out of the race.
Mr. Duceppe's organizers quickly realized that their strategy to take over the PQ had failed miserably and that an unpredictably strong level of support had quickly moved behind former PQ senior minister Pauline Marois, the only other declared candidate in the race.
The battle of titans everyone expected will not take place. A series of events that unfolded late Friday and all day Saturday convinced Mr. Duceppe that he would do better to remain Bloc Leader in Ottawa than pursue his strategy to become PQ leader.
A poll conducted by Crop for the Montreal daily La Presse on Saturday showed a vast majority of Quebeckers — 45 per cent — preferred Ms. Marois as PQ leader over Mr. Duceppe, who received the backing of 21 per cent. Mr. Duceppe reached the conclusion he didn't have the support.
"The Crop poll clearly showed an important and insurmountable trend in support of Ms. Marois. This was not visible two weeks ago," Mr. Duceppe's chief of staff François Leblanc said Saturday.
Actually it was visible even before the race began, but most commentators, having little knowledge of the PQ's peculiar nature, completely missed it.
Gilles Duceppe's political career, his youthful Marxist follies aside, has been defined by the Bloc Quebecois, from the day he became its first by-elected MP following Meech Lake's demise. He is not now, and has never been, a real pequiste , and the Bloc has never been simply the federal branch of the PQ.
He does not enjoy the same stature that Lucien Bouchard did when he went from leading the BQ to the PQ. He did not follow the same trail of tears that Bouchard followed along with so many Quebecois, from dashed hopes in federalism to renewed commitment to independence. Nor has he been with the PQ during its early days, its glory days, and its darkest hours.
Duceppe, unlike Pauline Marois, has no real roots in the PQ. The PQ, by the nature of its vision, does not take well to mere opportunists trying to jump to the head of the parade.
Duceppe's coronation was never going to happen; once Pauline Marois stepped in, he knew it, and he was left with no choice but to quit in an embarrassing manner.
The fact that the Bloc will take him back so readily is also a further sign of the Bloc's chief weakness: it has become, for all intents and purposes, the party of Gilles Duceppe. There is no one within its ranks with the necessary stature to succeed him and surpass him.
Gilles Duceppe just came out the loser here, but so did the BQ. Now they get to stumble along together for a fifth election, unable to extract themselves from each other.
Source: Globe and Mail