January 18, 2008 / 4:59 PM / in 11 years

Poll shows Quebec Liberals leading separatists

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Quebec’s ruling Liberal party has a slight lead over the Canadian province’s separatist Parti Quebecois, according to a public opinion poll published on Friday.

The Leger Marketing survey put the Liberals’ public popularity at 33 percent, compared with 30 percent for the PQ and 27 percent for the Action Democratique du Quebec, after a proportional distribution of undecided voters.

At 33 percent, the Liberals, were at the same level of popular support they had when falling to a minority from a majority in the provincial legislature in the March 2007 election.

A political party in the mainly French-speaking province of 7.5 million generally needs 40 percent support to get a majority in the legislature, a target that has become hard to reach in the tight three-party race.

The Liberals, under the leadership of Premier Jean Charest, lag the other two parties in popularity among Quebec’s French-speaking population, with 23 percent support. The PQ is at 37 percent and the ADQ at 31 percent among Francophones.

The Liberals’ hold on power could next be tested in the legislature when the minority government introduces its fiscal 2008-09 budget in March or April.

The Leger Marketing poll of 1,021 respondents was taken January 16-17 has a margin of error of 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20, according to Leger Marketing.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

Reporting by Robert Melnbardis; Editing by Renato Andrade

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