02/21/2013 15:15 EST | Updated 04/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Marois government survives confidence vote by slim margin

Quebec's minority Parti Québécois government came close to losing a confidence vote on its budgetary spending estimates at the National Assembly today.

Fifty-two members of the National Assembly voted in favour of the PQ government's estimates while 51 MNA's opposed the vote.

All of the opposition parties voted against the PQ's estimates and said the Marois government isn't doing enough to stimulate the economy while making cuts in higher education.

Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau said though opposition parties may not have liked his party's budget, he said the PQ was forced to trim and cut wherever it could to deal with a hidden $1.6 billion shortfall left behind by Jean Charest's previous Liberal government.

The Coalition Avenir Québec said it voted against the government because the treasury board is chopping nearly $250 million from universities.

"In these [estimates], the Parti Québécois cuts $250 million from our universities' budgets. So, a lack of vision. I don't see how we can support these estimates," said CAQ leader François Legault.

The Liberal party decided to vote against the PQ's budget, stating the lack of funding for the mining and natural resource industries.

"When a government doesn't make decisions and doesn't say clearly what is happening, we won't draw investments, we won't have revenues to the government, and cuts will happen in services," said the Liberal party's interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier.

Enough Liberal representatives deliberately skipped the vote at the National Assembly in order to avoid toppling the government, which would have triggered an election.

Given a new CROP poll commissioned by the French newspaper La Presse that suggests the PQ, the CAQ and the Liberals are neck and neck in terms of popularity, it is not surprising the opposition opted not to trigger an election a mere six months after the PQ's victory.

The poll in question surveyed 1,000 people online between Feb. 13 and 18.

The PQ was elected as a minority government last September.