Canada poll predicts strong Conservative majority

Mon Sep 8, 2008 9:08am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian poll released on Monday predicted for the first time that Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be able to transform his minority government into a strong majority in the October 14 election.

The Segma poll, taken for La Presse newspaper, put support for the Conservatives at 43 percent, which the pollsters said would translate into 183 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

It predicted the main opposition Liberals would get 25 percent of the vote, translating into just 62 seats.

The Conservatives had 127 seats in the old Parliament, while the Liberals had 95.

Other big parties are the separatist Bloc Quebecois, with 48 seats and the left-wing New Democrats with 30 seats.

Canada's election campaign started on Sunday as Harper sought a new mandate after 2-1/2 years in power.

He said on Sunday that he only expected to win another minority, and his staff clearly worry that a strong showing this early in the election game will only encourage other parties to gang up on the Conservatives.

Pollsters often see 40 percent support as a threshold for getting a majority of seats, although a party can win a majority with less than 40 percent if it maintains a substantial lead over the nearest competitor.

A separate poll, conducted by Strategic Counsel for the Globe and Mail, showed a shift in support toward the Conservatives in 45 hotly contested electoral districts in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign rally in Quebec City September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>