After 18 months in political exile, the Quebec Liberals have returned to power with a flourish.
Rookie leader Philippe Couillard carried the Liberals to a comfortable majority of seats in the National Assembly, winning 70 seats and 41 per cent of the vote.
Couillard also won comfortably in his own riding in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region with nearly 60 per cent of the vote.
He had framed the election as a choice between health care and economic growth and the threat of another PQ referendum.
Couillard hammered away relentlessly at PQ Leader Pauline Marois for her murky position on if and when she would call another sovereignty vote.
During his victory speech, he called on Quebecers to unite.
"We are all Quebecers,'' he told his cheering supporters,"we should all focus on what brings us together. Let us say together, with passion, we're all proud of being Quebecers.
"My friends, division is over. Reconciliation begins.''
The Parti Québécois fell from 54 seats to 30, with their vote share tumbling to 25 per cent. At the end of the night, Marois learned she had lost her own Charlevoix-Cote-de-Beaupré riding, and announced she was leaving politics after more than three decades.
It's the PQ's worst electoral showing in terms of percentage of the popular vote since their very first election in 1970.
Before Marois took to the stage to concede defeat, re-elected MNAs Bernard Drainville, Jean-François Lisée and newcomer Pierre Karl Péladeau — all widely seen as potential successors to Marois — praised the outgoing premier for her years of service to the party, the cause of Quebec independence, and the defense of Quebec's language and culture, and vowed to continue the fight.
François Legault's CAQ upped their vote total to 22 from 19, garnering 23 per cent of the vote — far better than anyone would have predicted just two or three weeks ago.
Legault told party supporters in his home riding of L'Assomption — which he won easily — that the CAQ is "here to stay".
And Québec Solidaire made a modest breakthrough on the island of Montreal, winning a third seat — Manon Massé in the longtime PQ stronghold of Ste-Marie-St-Jacques in downtown Montreal, and making gains elsewhere on the island. They increased their share of the popular vote from 6 to 8 per cent.
Fatima Houda-Pépin, the longtime Liberal MNA for the south shore riding of La Pinière who broke with the party in a dispute over the charter, failed in her bid to win back the seat as an independent, losing to newly-minted Liberal candidate — and former CAQ star candidate — Gaétan Barrette, the former head of the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists.
Voter turnout in this election was 71 per cent — slightly less than the 74.6 per cent recorded in 2012.