March 2, 2011 / 4:17 PM / in 7 years

Conservatives slip in new poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Although public backing for the Conservatives has slipped, the party would easily retain power with a minority government if an election were held now, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks about the situation in Libya from the House of Commons foyer on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>

The Harris Decima survey for the Canadian Press put support for the Conservatives at 36 percent compared with 28 percent for the Liberals. A poll by the same firm two weeks ago had the Conservatives ahead by 37 percent to 25.

The survey was the latest to show the Conservatives comfortably in front of the Liberals ahead of an election that could come as soon as early May. The gap between the two main parties was less than that shown in recent surveys by other firms.

Under Canada’s first past the post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to form a stable minority government and 40 percent to capture a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives came to power in early 2006 and were re-elected in October 2008, both times with minority governments. The next budget is due on March 22 and if all three opposition parties vote against the measure the government would fall.

The Harris Decima survey of 2,020 Canadians was conducted between February 17 and 27 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson

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