Quebecers Are “Somewhat” Satisfied with the State of Their Democracy

Which is well and good, since democracy is the art of compromise in society.

In collaboration with the Institut du Nouveau Monde

And an article in Le Devoir



There are many approaches that can be used to assess the state of democracy in the various countries around the world. Criteria can be assembled, indices created and then countries can be compared, ordered and classified based on their “level” of democracy.

One of the most frequently referred to studies was published in the British weekly, The Economist (from The Economist Intelligence Unit). But there are others – from IDEA, an intergovernmental body with experts from some 30 countries, to Fondapol in France.

However, it is striking that the work issuing from these various bodies and their different approaches have almost all come to the same conclusion in recent years: democracy is in decline around the world!

A shift toward totalitarianism is increasingly making itself felt in many countries. Regimes are becoming more authoritarian, even sectarian.

In light of this phenomenon, CROP and the Institut du Nouveau Monde decided to survey Quebecers to learn how they view the state of democracy in Québec. Our approach is very different from that taken by the studies mentioned above. Theirs are based on objective criteria, whereas ours deals with what Quebecers think about their democracy


Four main dimensions for measuring the state of democracy

The different impressions of the democracy being studied here can be grouped into four main themes, which provide us with a good assessment of the state of democracy in Québec based on what citizens think (unlike The Economist's approach, which uses some 60 objective criteria!)


Our four dimensions:

1. Satisfaction with the political system (the representation of the diversity of political ideas, voting systems, etc.)

2. Respect for rights and freedoms (freedom of expression, of the press, of conscience, of religion, etc.)

3. The independence of institutions from political interference (police, courts, media, etc.)

4. The ability of citizens to influence the decisions and policies of the different levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal).


1. Satisfaction with the political system

Quebecers generally believe that democracy is alive and well in Québec, with two out of three (68%) agreeing that it is doing well.

On the other hand, it is surprising to note the large gap between those who consider that their democracy is doing “very” well (17%) and those who consider it to be doing “somewhat” well (52%). 

Quebecers are not totally enthusiastic.


Consequently, we can discern a certain amount of reserve being expressed in these results. Although no political system can perfectly meet the expectations of all its citizens, Quebecers can live with theirs on the whole.

The most in accord with Québec democracy are men and older individuals (55+ years of age), while the most critical are between the ages of 35 and 54, generations dealing with the most intense period of their lives in terms of financial needs, family responsibilities, work, etc. (whose needs vis-à-vis institutions are very significant).

These results are strongly associated with the assessment of the representativeness of the political offer in Québec, particularly with respect to the diverse aspirations found in society.

A majority of 57%, or nearly three out of five Quebecers, believe that the current political offer does a good job of representing this diversity. It should be noted that only 10% rate this representativeness as “very” good, compared to 48% who rate it as “somewhat” good.


It is also strongly associated with the assessment of the voting system’s ability to properly represent the interests and needs of the people of Québec.

Again, a majority (55%) believe that they are well represented, but with the same type of variance between those who think they are “very well represented” and those who believe they are “somewhat well represented.”



Across all these themes, men and those 55+ and older are more enthusiastic, while those 35 to 54 years of age are still the most critical.

It should also be noted that women are significantly more likely to be unable to express an opinion on these issues (not really sure what position to take).

Overall, these results are “somewhat” positive. All societies express diverse political views, and it is difficult to fully meet the needs of everyone.

Still, it is unfortunate that nearly one in three Quebecers (31%) are dissatisfied with the political offer and the voting system.

Yet, it is precisely this latter group that is at the root of the discontent. When we examine all the interrelations between the responses to our questions (the multiple correlations), the voting system emerges as a determinant factor in the dissatisfaction with the political system.

This phenomenon is easy to understand. For example, with only 41% of the popular vote in the last provincial election in Québec, the CAQ won a majority of 90 seats out of 125 in the National Assembly, while nearly 60% of voters did not vote for that party!

Some would argue that proportional representation can lead to chaos (to whit, Israel and Italy). But there is certainly a price to pay for the relative stability of the parliamentary systems inspired by the British model.


2. Respect for rights and freedoms

One of the essential conditions for any democracy is respect for rights and freedoms. Whether it is freedom of expression, association, religion, or freedom of the press, etc., this freedom is one of the foundations of any self-respecting democratic country.

In this regard, Quebecers are quite satisfied with their situation, judging by the following table:


At least two out of three people believe that Québec respects the various rights and freedoms surveyed – another factor that indicates that in La Belle Province people are generally satisfied with the state of their democracy.

However, here again there is a certain reluctance to consider oneself “totally” satisfied with the state of affairs. On the other hand, the difference between the most enthusiastic and those slightly less enthusiastic is less significant than for the previous topics.

It should be noted that when it comes to non-discrimination, freedom of religion and the right to live in a healthy environment, the scores are relatively lower, as these issues regularly make highly critical headlines in the media.

Again, those 55 and older are more satisfied with the situation than those aged 35-54, who are much more critical, as they were for the previous topics.


3. The independence of institutions from political interference

Perhaps one of the most important aspects that defines a democracy is this independence. For example, the kind of bickering between our Minister of Justice (Monsieur Simon Jolin-Barrette) and the Chief Judge of the Court of Québec (Madam Lucie Rondeau) simply could not happen in China or Russia! Everyone would obey the minister’s wishes without dissent.

But Quebecers are still a little doubtful!

Between a quarter and a third of Quebecers have “no” or “little” confidence in this independence, depending on the institution in question.

Once again, pluralities fall into the camp of those who tell us that they have some confidence in the independence of the institutions surveyed from political interference. Minorities (about one in five, or around 20%) say they have total confidence in this independence.

The media and the courts take last place, with a third of people having not much or no confidence in their independence. This is a worrying situation for these institutions, which are the foundation of our democracy.

And again, people 55 and older have more confidence in the independence of these institutions than those aged 35 to54, who are more skeptical.


4. The ability of citizens to influence the decisions and policies of the different levels of government

This last pillar of democracy measured is the one about which the population surveyed has the most doubts.

A majority find it very difficult to believe that they can truly influence the decisions of the federal (56%) or provincial (50%) governments. It is only at the municipal level that there is almost a majority (49%) who believe they can exert at least some influence on the decisions of their mayor.

It is interesting to observe that the closer the level of government is to the people (from municipal to federal), the more citizens tend to believe that they can influence its decisions.

However, even if it is relatively easy to contact their municipal councillor, MNA or MP, people are still perplexed as to how they can truly be heard, and they wonder if their needs and opinions will really be taken into account.



The big picture

These results reveal an undeniable logic. There is no doubt that, overall, there are people who are enthusiastic about democracy in Québec, while others are more critical, and these different individuals have expressed themselves coherently on each of the topics addressed in the study.

To identify the different types of Quebecers in terms of their assessment of the state of democracy, we have classified them into large “families” of individuals (segments) based on their attitudes toward the topics studied.

This exercise produced the following results:



Five main segments have been identified through this approach, three of which are very or somewhat enthusiastic about Québec democracy.


1. The Satisfied (28%)

All in all, The Satisfied express a very positive attitude to all the topics explored in this study. According to them, democracy is alive and well in Québec, no matter how you look at it. It should be noted that their enthusiasm is far from passionate. They are “somewhat” in agreement with all the topics explored and think that things are going “somewhat” well.

Their critique of our political system is lucid and positive, and they take a moderate stance on all the topics explored.

Nevertheless, their engagement in the democratic process is significant since they always vote in elections for every level of government.

They are more commonly found among those 55 and older and among CAQ voters.


2. The Committed (19%)

Like The Satisfied, The Committed display a positive attitude toward all the topics explored in this study. But they do it with much more enthusiasm. They are by far the most satisfied with our democracy.

They are content with the voting system and the representation of the different political ideas in Québec.

They also believe that they can influence the political debate and government decisions: they would take to the streets if necessary! They participate in demonstrations, strikes, sign petitions, etc.

On the other hand – and this is what fuels their convictions and actions – they are very fatalistic about the future of the planet and the potential for social conflict that few societies have been spared: the polarization of political views, social inequities, disinformation, etc. They have an apocalyptic vision of the planet’s future and society, hence the intensity of their commitment to democracy.

They are over-represented among young people (18-34 years old), ethnic minorities, parents with young children, and they tend to vote for the QLP or the Green Party of Québec.


3. The Reformers (19%)

Even though they generally do not deny that Québec is a democratic society (rights and freedoms, independence of institutions), their grievance with the current political system is the voting system. They ardently want to see it “reformed.” They do not believe that the current system allows the diversity of political ideas and views found in Québec society to be properly represented.

They believe even less in the ability of citizens to make their voices heard or even to influence the policies of the various levels of government. In their view, the system does not permit it. The Reformers are not cynical, though. They believe that the system can be changed and they hope to witness such change.

They are over-represented among those 55 and older, the most educated, and among PQ voters.


4. The Perplexed (18%)

In this segment, people have serious doubts about the tangible virtues of Québec democracy. The Perplexed do not really believe that institutions are free from political interference, whether that be the police, the judiciary or the media.

In this segment, a large majority believe that governments, corporations, and the media are trying to control the population. Consequently, they give very little credence to their messages.

The Perplexed are very reluctant to believe that the current political system allows for the proper representation of the diversity of ideals and people, particularly because of the voting system in Québec.

Although they are highly critical in these respects, this segment comprises the highest percentage of individuals who did not really know how to answer our questions, which suggests that many of them do not have an opinion on the political issues of the day. This adds to their “perplexity.”

This segment comprises an over-representation of people between the ages of 35 and 54 and living at a lower socio-economic level than Québec society as a whole. These 35-54-year-olds, who have stood out throughout this analysis, find themselves overrepresented in this segment (as well as in the next one).


5. The Conspiracy Theorists (15%)

As their name suggests, they have taken their cynicism to the point of believing in a grand conspiracy whose aim is to totally control society. They sincerely believe that our entire political system is being controlled by an evil elite who direct people’s destiny, whether in Québec, in the rest of Canada or in the rest of the world.

They have the most negative impression of the state of democracy in Québec.

According to them, governments, companies and the media are doing everything they can to curtail people’s freedom. Rights and freedoms are not being respected at all and they are convinced that citizens can exert no influence over politicians.

Their vision of freedom is the same as the one heard from the protesters in the truckers’ convoy in Ottawa in the winter of 2022, as well as from the opponents of public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It should be noted that, in general, this type of individual feeds on the most extreme forms of populism. They believe in the content generated by the populist movements much more than in the content from traditional media.

The Conspiracy Theorists are over-represented among people between the ages of 35 and 54 and, not surprisingly, a plurality of them vote for Éric Duhaime's Conservative Party of Québec.


Boosting democracy

We can conclude that democracy overall is doing relatively well in Québec, based on Quebecers’ own assessment. In fact, The Economist's index categorizes Canada among the “full democracies.”

However, even if these results seem very positive, there is a certain reserve in the enthusiasm expressed throughout the study. As a society, it would therefore be desirable to ensure that in the years to come this enthusiasm does not wane too much. And even, hopefully, that it will grow.

Of all the pillars of democracy we studied, the least positive was the “ability to influence government decisions.” People have a hard time believing in their ability to exert any influence at all on their politicians.

However, it should be noted that during this study, 14% of Quebecers told us that they had contacted an elected official in the last 12 months (The Committed segment had twice as many, at 27%). Which isn't bad for a population of nearly seven million adults with 125 MNAs! Although people always tend to be a little more enthusiastic when they take a survey, compared to what they actually do in their daily lives.

But if we could initiate more contact between voters and their elected officials and make the latter’s work better known (they are not mere “yes-men” – plantes vertes – as one MNA told journalists), the perception of democracy might greatly improve.

There is also the voting system, which some see as eroding the quality of our democracy, but I will leave that issue to our politicians!



Data collection for this CROP survey took place from June 14 to 20, 2023, using a web panel. A total of 1,000 people responded to the survey, reflecting the Québec population aged 18 and over. The questionnaire consisted of about 20 questions. The results were weighted to reflect the distribution of the Québec population by gender, age, mother tongue and education. Note that, given the non-probability nature of the sample, a margin of error calculation did not apply.