Chances of quick election seen fading fast

Mon Jun 1, 2009 4:32pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The chances of an early federal election appeared to fade further on Monday when a huge opinion poll showed no party had a clear chance of winning and a key opposition party leader expressed little enthusiasm for going to the polls soon.

The Liberal Party has mused in recent weeks about bringing down the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Parliament on the grounds that it is not doing enough to help the unemployed.

But an Ekos survey of almost 11,000 Canadians -- more than 10 times the usual polling size -- put the Liberals at 33.5 percent in public support and the Conservatives at 32.3 percent.

Under the first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs to win around 36 percent of the vote to win a minority government and about 40 percent to stand a chance of capturing a majority.

"The overall picture these numbers paint is slightly more positive for the Liberals, who are ahead more days than they lag," said Ekos President Frank Graves.

"But the situation is clearly quite volatile, and neither party could force an election right now confident they would win, much less form a majority," he said in a statement.

The Liberals need the support of both the other opposition parties to bring down the government and that looks unlikely.

"I'm not going to waste too much time considering such options," said Jack Layton, leader of the left-leaning New Democrats.   Continued...