Quebec Liberals rise as separation support slips

Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:52am EDT
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By Robert Melnbardis

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Quebec's Liberal Party has enough popular support to regain a majority government, and support for separation has weakened in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

A CROP survey published in the French daily newspaper La Presse put popular support for the provincial Liberals at 38 percent, well ahead of the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) at 29 percent, and the Action Democratique du Quebec (ADQ), which trailed with just 17 percent.

Voter support for the Liberals in the province of 7.6 million would be enough to return them to power with a majority in the provincial legislature, pollster Claude Gauthier told La Presse.

"After a year of a government of cohabitation, people do not seem dissatisfied with what they have done," he said.

Those figures compare with the March 2007 election results of 33 percent for Liberals, 28 percent for the PQ and 31 percent for the ADQ, whose rise in popularity to form the official opposition was the main factor in knocking the Liberals to minority from a majority.

The CROP poll also showed weak support for Quebec independence. Only 36 percent of respondents said they would vote for Quebec separation from Canada.

Quebec voted against separation by a margin of less than a percentage point in a 1995 referendum, and by 20 points in 1980.

The Liberals do not want any more referendums on the question and the leadership of the PQ, which was in power during the two independence votes, has been backing away from holding one should it return to power.   Continued...