October 28, 2010 / 1:49 PM / in 7 years

Conservatives see poll lead slip slightly

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives are more than six points ahead of their closest rivals but would have trouble creating a stable government if an election were held now, according to a poll released on Thursday.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a standing ovation from his caucus while speaking during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The regular Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put public support for the Conservatives at 33.9 percent, down from 34.4 percent in a poll done by the same firm two weeks ago. The main opposition Liberal Party remained steady at 27.8 percent.

Many political observers -- not to mention some officials in the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- expect the government to be brought down over its next budget, in February or March 2011.

The Conservatives, in power since early 2006, only have a minority of seats in the House of Commons and need the support of opposition legislators to pass budgets and survive confidence motions.

Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to create a stable minority government.

Although the Ekos poll indicates the Conservatives have weathered a series of political stumbles over the last few months, a full 53.1 percent of those surveyed felt the government was heading in the wrong direction.

A string of polls by different firms over the last 18 months shows voters have little enthusiasm for either Harper or Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

The Ekos automated telephone survey of 1,140 adults was conducted between October 20 and 26 and is considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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