Five candidates have collected enough signatures and money to enter the race to become Parti Quebecois leader, party president Raymond Archambault said Monday as the campaign to succeed Pierre Karl Peladeau officially began.
Alexandre Cloutier, Veronique Hivon, Martine Ouellet, Jean-Francois Lisee and Paul St-Pierre Plamondon are vying to replace Peladeau, who resigned in early May citing family issues.
All five have garnered the minimum 1,500 signatures from party members and put down a deposit of $10,000 in hopes of winning a majority.
There are currently 80,000 eligible voters, a number that is expected to rise.
Four out of the five hopefuls are sitting members of the legislature, while St-Pierre Plamondon is a lawyer who's had a stint as a TV pundit.
Archambault said running a leadership campaign in the summer is "not ideal" as many voters have their minds elsewhere.
"We go with the date that God gave us," he said, laughing. "People are in a better mood in the summer."
Ouellet said an advantage of a summer campaign is that candidates will be able to reach voters who are more relaxed and have more time to reflect on their decision.
"Another plus is that we won't have any snowstorms", she said.
Since Peladeau's departure, party membership has seen a bump, Archambault said.
He said between 4,000 and 5,000 people signed membership cards last month alone.
The five candidates will have to collect another $10,000 by September in order to stay in the race.
Two debates, one in Sherbrooke and the other in Montreal, are scheduled for September.
The vote takes place Oct. 5-7 by telephone and on the Internet, and voters will choose their first, second and third favourite candidates.