TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's governing Conservatives, who suffered a series of political reverses over the summer, hold a narrow lead in popular support over their main rivals, according to a poll released on Monday.
The Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press put the Conservatives at 33 percent support, according to a report by the news agency. This was 3 percentage points ahead of the official opposition Liberals.
The results indicate neither party would have much chance of a clear win in an election. Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs to win about 36 percent of the vote to create a viable minority government.
The poll showed support for the left-leaning New Democrats trailed well behind at 14 percent, down six points since April and only three points ahead of the Green Party.
The report suggested the New Democrats may have been hurt by internal divisions ahead of an upcoming Parliamentary vote on eliminating Canada's registry of long guns like rifles and shotguns. Many New Democrat lawmakers from heavily rural areas are under pressure from voters to scrap the registry, while those from urban areas tend to support it.
The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in the October 2008 election but, like the Liberals, seem unable to gain the strong support of voters.
The ruling party's recent troubles include anger over its decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.
But the government appears stable for now. Canada's main opposition Liberal Party said on Monday it wanted to make Parliament work, suggesting it will continue to prop up the minority Conservative government rather than vote against it and trigger an election this fall.
The report said the telephone poll of 2,023 Canadians was conducted September 9 to 19 and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.
Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Stacey Joyce