NDP surges to strong second place in poll

Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:52pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

WINDSOR, Ontario (Reuters) - Support for Canada's leftist New Democratic Party surged to within 6 points of the ruling Conservatives in an opinion poll on Monday that showed Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a tenuous hold on power.

The Conservatives, who hope to get a majority government in the May 2 vote, remain confident of election victory despite the late campaign boost by the New Democrats.

The left-leaning NDP have traditionally trailed both the Conservatives and Liberals. But its appeal has shot up under the leadership of Jack Layton, who supports tax breaks for small businesses and for hiring new employees.

Monday's EKOS survey of more than 3,000 Canadian voters put support for the NDP at 28 percent, compared to 33.7 percent for the Conservatives and 23.7 percent for the Liberals, who are currently Canada's largest opposition party.

The NDP would not get more seats in Parliament than the Conservatives -- they could end up with 100 seats while Harper's party could get 130.

But its gains could make the Conservatives, who won minority governments in both 2006 and 2008, vulnerable to the possibility that the NDP and Liberals could agree to work together and push them from power.

Minority governments require the support of at least one opposition party to pass legislation and remain in power.

"It's hard to imagine a 130-seat diminished (Conservative) government would be able to hold on to power against a clear majority of seats and a major advantage in popular support for the NDP and the Liberals," EKOS pollster Frank Graves said on the iPolitics.ca website.   Continued...

<p>NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks to the media following a campaign stop in downtown Montreal April 23, 2011. Canadians will go to the polls in a federal election on May 2. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>