Five decades of two-party rule ends just ended in Quebec

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By Reuters and Yuliya Talmazan  with NBC News World News
Image: CAQ party leader Legault shakes hands with supporters in Quebec City
Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader Francois Legault shakes hands with supporters in Quebec City on Monday.   -   Copyright  Chris Wattie

MONTREAL — A center-right party that was founded just seven years ago and vows to curb immigration won Monday's election in Quebec.

The result ends a half a century of rule split between the federalist Liberals and the Parti Quebecois, which wants the predominantly French-speaking province to leave Canada and came close to achieving that in a 1995 referendum.

The triumphant Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) won 74 of the province's 125 seats. The Liberals, which had held power for 13 out of the last 15 years, got just 32.

CAQ leader François Legault, who co-founded budget airline Air Transat before entering politics, campaigned on a plan to take in 10,000 fewer immigrants a year and to expel new residents who fail tests on French and Quebec values within three years.

"My team and I are very eager to get to work for you," Legault said Monday night on Twitter.

In his victory address, Legault assured the province's English-speaking minority that "my government will be your government."

"Quebecers have clearly indicated their desire for change," Liberal leader and former Premier Philippe Couillard said in a concession speech, adding that he would reflect on his political future.

The Parti Quebecois suffered major losses as well. Its leader, Jean-François Lisée, resigned after losing his seat.

The CAQ victory follows a shift to the right in neighboring Ontario, where Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives swept to power in June. He is the brother of Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto who died of cancer in 2016.

Yuliya Talmazan reported from London.