02/05/2015 04:33 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT

PQ leadership hopefuls will take part in five debates leading up to May vote

MONTREAL - The contenders for the Parti Quebecois leadership will have five opportunities to debate as the party decides on a new leader.

The five candidates met with party leadership Thursday in Montreal to iron out details.

Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau is the perceived front-runner in a race that also includes current PQ caucus colleagues Bernard Drainville, Alexandre Cloutier and Martine Ouellet.

Another candidate is Pierre Cere, a spokesman for a group that defends the unemployed.

The leadership campaign officially kicked off Wednesday.

The debates will run every two weeks beginning Mar. 11 and a new leader is expected to be announced as early as mid-May.

The five candidates expressed an interest in participating in other debates outside those agreed upon Thursday.

The next provincial election is scheduled to be held in September 2018.