March 20, 2010 / 2:02 PM / in 8 years

Canada's Conservatives lead in opinion poll

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Conservatives hold a lead over their main rivals in an opinion poll released on Saturday, but do not have enough support to win a majority government if an election took place now.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 17, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Ipsos-Reid survey, conducted for the CanWest newspaper group, put support for the Conservatives at 34 percent, down from 37 percent in a previous survey from the same company.

The Liberals had 28 percent support, down from 29 percent.

Under Canada’s first past the post voting system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to have a chance of winning a majority in Parliament.

The Conservatives have only a minority of seats in the current Parliament and need support from at least one other party to stay in power.

They who won a strengthened minority in October 2008 and have been in power for just over four years. An election is not due until 2012, but could take place earlier if other parties joined forces to vote the government out.

Ipsos-Reid surveyed 1,001 Canadian voters between March 16 and March 18. It considers its results accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 95 percent of the time.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman

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