MONTREAL, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The day after his party's loss of power and losing his own seat, Jean Charest said he was stepping down as the Liberal Party's provincial leader in Quebec.
Charest said Wednesday he made the decision after talking it over with his family. He said he would resign "in the next few days" after the new government takes over, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
"I'm very proud of what I've accomplished in my public career. It's been a real privilege," he said in making his emotion-tinged announcement.
"As a father, who will soon be a grandfather, it's as if life was sending me a signal. From the bottom of my heart, I give a great thank-you to Quebecers. You have been marvelous."
The 54-year-old lawyer was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative in 1984 and became the youngest-ever Cabinet minister two years later, the CBC said. He became the Quebec Liberal leader in 1998 and was elected premier in 2003, winning re-election in 2007 and 2008.
The Parti Quebecois, under the leadership of 63-year-old Pauline Marois, took 54 seats in the 125-seat National Assembly in Tuesday's elections.
Marois will become the province's first female premier.
The Liberals, who won 50 seats, will have to hold a leadership convention. Ironically, their federal counterparts in Ottawa have been without a leader for more than a year.
What surprised many was the success of a party only formed in March -- the Coalition for Quebec's Future, known as the CAQ.
Under Francois Legault, the center-right party won 19 seats in its first election and now holds the balance of power in the minority government.
The separatist Quebec Solidaire party took the remaining two seats.
The Parti Quebecois has been in power four times since 1976 and twice held referenda on seceding from Canada and lost each time. Marois has said sovereignty remains high on the party's agenda.
The CAQ's Legault was formerly a PQ cabinet minister, but downplayed sovereignty in the 35 days of campaigning prior to Tuesday's vote.
The PQ's victory party was marred when a masked man burst into the back of the convention center and opened fire, killing one man injuring another. He was arrested, but hadn't been identified by Wednesday morning, police said.
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