Quebec separatists maintain lead ahead of September 4 election: poll
(Reuters) - A separatist party is still in the lead ahead of an election on Tuesday in the Canadian province of Quebec but the number of voters who say they might change their minds means a result is hard to predict, according to a poll released on Sunday.
The Leger survey for the QMI agency put the opposition Parti Quebecois (PQ) -- which wants to hold a referendum eventually on independence for the province -- at 33 percent public support, unchanged from a poll released by the same firm on Aug 24.
That would normally be enough to ensure the party won at least a strong minority government, leaving it reliant on support of other parties to push through legislation.
But pollster Jean-Marc Leger told QMI he was not ready to predict any kind of PQ win, given that 28 percent of respondents said they could still change their minds.
Previous PQ governments held independence referendums in 1980 and 1995 but both failed. A poll by the CROP firm last week showed only 28 percent of Quebecers wanted the predominantly French-speaking province of 7.8 million people to leave Canada.
The PQ says if it wins power it will focus on the economy and healthcare rather than pushing for a quick ballot on independence. The party is also promising to make foreign takeovers of Quebec firms more difficult.
The Leger poll put the newly created Coalition for the Future of Quebec (CAQ) at 28 percent and the ruling Liberals at 27 percent, both unchanged from the last poll.
Allegations of corruption, a big budget deficit and a controversial law cracking down on student protests have hurt the Liberals, who have been in power since 2003.
The CAQ, led by a former PQ minister, says it wants to put off all talk of referendums for a decade and focus on the economy. It was created late last year and has never contested a Quebec election. Continued...