THE Parti Québécois is once again the governing party of La Belle Province - and the sky has still not fallen.
The rest of Canada either yawned or worried in response to the escalating separatist rhetoric trumpeted before Monday's election in Quebec. Yawned because we have become used to Francophone tantrums and feel we have heard it all before. Worried because a majority of Canadians believe their country includes Quebec and that the separatist threat of the 1970 October Crisis and the 1980 and 1995 referendums on sovereignty belong in the past.
But Quebecers Monday achieved a federalist outcome by not giving the PQ an outright majority while relegating the despised Liberals to the Opposition. Without a majority, PQ leader Pauline Marois likely cannot call a referendum. To do so and lose - the Coalition would vote with the Liberals - would bring her government down.
The spectre of separatist-sparked violence returned Monday during the PQ victory rally, but the response to the shooting has been refreshingly mature with all parties united in condemning twisted acts of terrorism.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Marois would like to take on Ottawa at every opportunity. What will be key is how Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to demands for decentralization of powers. He has only five MPs from the province and needs to tread carefully.
It will be fascinating to watch how he responds to the PQ's demand that he act on his 2006 Parliamentary declaration that "the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."