OTTAWA (Reuters) - Quebec’s ruling Liberals look likely to trounce their separatist rivals in the December 8 election in the Canadian province and could well win a majority government, according to two polls released on Tuesday.
A Leger Marketing poll for the Journal de Montreal and the Montreal Gazette put the Liberals of Premier Jean Charest at 46 percent public support, up five percentage points from a poll done by the same firm two weeks ago.
The separatist Parti Quebecois slipped a point to 34 percent while the right-leaning Action democratique du Quebec dropped two points to 12 percent.
Charest called the election earlier this month, saying he needed a strong mandate to steer the predominantly French-speaking province of 7.5 million people through the global financial crisis.
The Leger poll shows a similar result to the 2003 election, which the Liberals won easily. They barely held on to power when the province voted again in 2007.
Pollster Jean-Marc Leger said despite the Liberals’ lead, the races in some constituencies were so tight that it was hard to predict whether Charest would win a majority.
The three party leaders are due to hold a televised debate on Tuesday evening.
The Leger Marketing poll of 3,070 adults was conducted between Nov 18 and 23 and is considered accurate to within 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Liberals have 48 of the 125 seats in Quebec’s National Assembly. The ADQ, which has slumped in popularity over recent months, has 39 seats, while the Parti Quebecois has 36. There are two vacancies.
The Parti Quebecois ditched its leader after the 2007 election but new party chief Pauline Marois has had little luck reviving the party’s fortunes, in part because of flagging enthusiasm for the idea of Quebec independence from Canada.
PQ governments held province-wide referendums in 1980 and 1995 on splitting away from Canada but both failed. Marois says that if she wins she will not rush to hold another vote, a stance that angers party hardliners.
A CROP poll for La Presse put the Liberals at 45 percent, the Parti Quebecois at 32 percent and the ADQ at 12 percent.
The CROP poll of 1,001 adults was carried out between Nov 17 and 23 and is considered to be accurate to within 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway