Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Conservatives Lead Separatists: Poll

Tue May 02, 08:12 AM EST

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives are rapidly gaining support in Quebec and are now more popular than the province's separatist party, according to a new poll published on Tuesday.

The CROP poll for La Presse put the Conservatives at 34 percent in Quebec, up from the 25 percent the party won during the January 23 election. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which a few months ago was flirting with 50 percent backing, dropped to 31 percent from 42 percent on January 23.

The Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, unexpectedly took 10 of Quebec's 75 seats in the election, helping them win a fragile minority federal government and thereby ending 12 years of Liberal rule.

"Thanks to his attitude, his gestures and his speeches, Mr Harper has clearly succeeded in getting closer to Quebec since the January 23 election," CROP's Claude Gauthier told La Presse.

The poll contained more bad news for the Liberals, who once dominated the province but were brought down last November by a corruption scandal which centered on Quebec. The party sank to 15 percent support from 20 percent on January 23.

CROP also found that 56 percent of Quebecers were satisfied with the federal government, an enormous jump from the 22 percent recorded in a CROP poll from January 11 to 16 this year.

The survey of 1,002 people was carried out between April 20 and 30 and is considered to be accurate to within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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