Conservatives seen winning election

Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:46am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

LONDON, Ontario (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservative Party is set to win a federal election on Tuesday but will still have only a minority of seats in Parliament, according to two polls released on Saturday.

The Conservatives hold 127 of the 308 seats and had genuine hopes of capturing a majority when the campaign started a month ago. Since then, the global financial crisis struck, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has struggled to persuade Canadians to give him a strong mandate to deal with the aftershocks.

An Ipsos-Reid poll for CanWest News put the Conservatives at 34 percent, with the official opposition Liberals at 29 percent and the left-leaning New Democrats at 19 percent.

Harper has said from the start of the campaign that he does not think a majority is likely.

"We're not talking about a majority. My view is that we're in a tight race," he told reporters in London, Ontario.

Earlier in the day, he told a rally of supporters that the election would be a decision on "who Canadians will trust to protect our economy in this world financial turmoil in the weeks, the months and the years ahead".

Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to win a majority. This can slip as low as 38 percent if the opposition is badly divided, as it is now.

The Ipsos poll of 2,000 people was conducted October 7-9 and is considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign rally in Toronto October 10, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>