August 17, 2012 / 2:17 PM / in 5 years

Separatists lead new Quebec opinion poll, ruling Liberals sag

(Reuters) - The ruling Liberals in Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec are losing support to an upstart new party, but separatists still hold the upper hand and look set to form the next government after the September 4 election, according to a new opinion poll published on Friday.

The pro-independence Parti Quebecois, however, may not win enough seats to form a majority in the provincial legislature. They would need a majority to push through a third referendum on separating from Canada.

Quebecers have twice voted “no” in referendums on independence, most recently in 1995, by the thinnest of margins.

The Leger Marketing poll, obtained by an Internet survey and published in the Journal de Montreal and the Journal de Quebec newspapers, said that 68 percent of voters wanted a change of government. It put support for the Liberals at 28 percent, down from 31 percent at the start of the election campaign.

Support for the Parti Quebecois held steady at 33 percent but backing for the Coalition Avenir de Quebec (CAQ), a pro-Quebec party that wants to focus on the economy rather than on campaigning for independence, jumped six points to 27 percent.

The results suggest voters who do not want independence are increasingly split between the Liberals and the CAQ, which would boost the chances of the Parti Quebecois.

Leger conducted its Internet poll of 3,387 Quebec voters between August 13 and August 16. It considers the results accurate to within 1.7 percentage points, 95 percent of the time.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Sandra Maler

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