Conservatives keep lead but voters wary

Thu Dec 9, 2010 8:31pm EST
 
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives have maintained a lead over their main political rivals, but many voters are concerned about the minority government's direction, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The regular Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put Conservative support at 33.7 percent, up from 33.3 percent two weeks ago but short of what it would take to win a majority government in the next election.

The poll found that 46 percent of voters felt the government was headed in the wrong direction in running the country, compared with 39.9 percent who felt it was going in the right direction.

"Directional satisfaction often serves as an indicator of future movement in the political landscape," Ekos said in a statement.

The main opposition Liberals had 29.2 percent support, up from 27.1 percent. The left-leaning New Democrats held third spot at 14.4 percent, while the Greens had 10.4 percent support and the Bloc Quebecois 9.8 percent. The separatist Bloc only runs candidates in Quebec and leads all other parties in the French-speaking province.

The Conservatives took power in early 2006 and won a strengthened minority in the October 2008 election with 37.7 percent of votes. Some analysts have speculated Canadians may go to the polls early next year.

Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs to win about 40 percent support to win a majority government that does not require the support of at least one other party to pass major legislation.

The survey also found a sharp divide between younger and older voters in Canada.

The Green Party, which has no seats in Parliament, would win a majority government if voting were limited to citizens under age 25. But the Greens would not win a single seat if only people over age 65 were allowed to vote.

The Ekos automated telephone survey of 2,574 people was conducted between December 1 and 7 and had a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points.

(Reporting Allan Dowd; Editing by Peter Cooney)