Corruption stories hurting Quebec government: poll

(Reuters) - Allegations of widespread corruption in the construction industry are hurting Quebec’s governing Liberals, who would have little chance of forming a stable government if an election were held now, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The Leger Marketing survey for Le Devoir and the Montreal Gazette put support for the federalist Liberals at just 26 percent, down from 31 percent a month ago. The opposition Parti Quebecois, which wants independence for the giant Canadian province, was at 25 percent.

In line with other recent surveys, Leger showed both parties would be beaten by a political movement that does not yet exist. Former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister Francois Legault is set to launch his Coalition for the Future of Quebec next month.

When the pollsters gave respondents the chance of voting for Legault, the Coalition received 36 percent public support, compared with 22 percent for the Liberals and 18 percent for the Parti Quebecois.

Legault is winning support with a promise not to raise the question of Quebec’s place inside Canada, the focus of often divisive debates for decades.

The next election does not have to be held until December 2013, but the government’s slim majority makes it uncertain if Liberal premier Jean Charest will last that long.

Leger said Charest was paying the price for refusing to call a formal probe into allegations of wrongdoing in the construction industry. The poll showed a majority of Quebecers wanted an inquiry.

Last month, a leaked report by the head of Quebec’s anti-corruption unit said organized crime had made wide inroads into the industry.

The Parti Quebecois, now riven by infighting over the performance of leader Pauline Marois, held two referendums on splitting away from Canada when it was in power. Both votes -- in 1980 and 1995 -- failed.

The Leger poll of 1,005 adults was conducted on Oct 11 and 12 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman