April 8, 2011 / 12:28 PM / 7 years ago

Conservatives have big lead: polls

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Conservatives are well ahead of their rivals ahead of the May 2 federal election but it is unclear whether they will win a majority in Parliament, according to two polls released on Friday.

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign rally in Hamilton, Ontario April 7, 2011. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election on May 2. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Conservatives -- who first came to power in 2006 -- were brought down by opposition parties late last month.

A Nanos Research tracking poll of results over three days of surveys put support for the Conservatives at 40.6 percent, up from 39.6 in Thursday’s poll.

The Liberals were at 31.1 percent, up from 30.4 percent, while the New Democratic Party fell to 14.9 percent from 17.2 percent.

Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

A poll released by Ekos put the Conservatives at 36.2 percent, with the Liberals trailing on 27.7 percent and the New Democrats at 16.6 percent.

Both Ekos and Nanos said the race was tightening in the crucial central province of Ontario, which accounts for 106 of the House of Commons’ 308 seats, with the Liberals starting to cut the gap with their rivals.

The Conservatives have 51 Ontario seats and need to pick up more if they are to have any chance of gaining a majority. The Liberals have 37 Ontario seats.

The past two governments have been Conservative minorities, requiring the Tories to get support from at least one other party to maintain power.

The daily Nanos tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling telephone sample of 1,009 decided voters and is considered accurate 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Ekos survey of 2,036 adults was carried out between April 4 to 7 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by John McCrank and David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman

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