Separatists take slight lead in Quebec: poll

Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:10pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Separatists in the province of Quebec have taken a slight lead over the governing Liberals, who are under pressure to investigate an alleged corruption scandal, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

The CROP survey for La Presse newspaper put the separatist Parti Quebecois at 40 percent popular support, up five points from a poll done by the same firm a month ago. The Liberals were down four points at 39 percent.

The Parti Quebecois, which wants independence for the giant, predominantly French-speaking province of 7.5 million people, held referendums in 1980 and 1995 on whether Quebec should be independent. Both failed.

Although polls show most Quebecers want a public inquiry into allegations of corruption in the awarding of municipal contacts, Premier Jean Charest is against the idea. Instead, a special police unit is looking into the affair.

Charest's Liberals won a majority in the provincial parliament, the National Assembly, in an election last December and look safe for now, since they cannot be toppled by an opposition motion of non-confidence. The Parti Quebecois has lost the last three elections.

The CROP survey of 1,000 adults was conducted between Oct 15 and 25 and is considered accurate to within 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)