Ruling Conservatives slightly ahead in poll

Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:45am EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives are slightly ahead of the main opposition party, and an election now would most likely result in deadlock, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The regular Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. put the Conservatives at 31.5 percent, with the opposition Liberals trailing at 30.9 percent.

It was the latest in a number of recent polls to show that the Conservatives -- who two months ago were up to 15 percentage points ahead of the Liberals -- were now virtually tied with their biggest rivals.

The left-leaning New Democrats were at 14.9 percentage points. Last week Ekos put the Conservatives at 30.9 percent and the Liberals at 29.3 percent.

Support for the ruling party began to slide sharply last month after Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to have Parliament suspended for two months so he could "recalibrate" his agenda.

Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to win a minority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

Harper, who won a strengthened minority in October 2008, says neither he nor Canadians want an election now.

The automated Ekos telephone survey of 2,892 adults was carried out between Jan 13 and 19 and is considered accurate to within 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Paul Simao)

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at Rideau Hall in Ottawa January 19, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>