Support for Quebec separatists on the rise: poll

Just five months after Quebec separatists suffered a heavy election defeat, support for pro-independence parties in the French-speaking Canadian province is on the rise, a poll showed.

Support for Quebec separatists on the rise: poll
Just five months after Quebec separatists suffered a heavy election defeat, support for pro-independence parties in the French-speaking Canadian province is on the rise, a poll showed.

The CROP survey for La Presse newspaper put backing for the Parti Quebecois at 33 percent, up from the 28 percent it received at the March 26 election.

The ruling Liberals -- led by unpopular Premier Jean Charest -- fell to third place, slipping to 27 percent support from 33 percent. The right-wing ADQ party dropped to 29 percent from 31 percent.

The results are significant because the Liberals have only a fragile minority in the Quebec legislature and could be brought down at any time.

In the wake of the election, then Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair quit and was replaced by former cabinet minister Pauline Marois. La Presse said Marois, a popular and respected figure, was one reason for the party's recovery.

The CROP poll showed that 37 percent of Quebecers felt Marois would make the best premier, compared with 25 percent for ADQ leader Mario Dumont and just 22 percent for Charest.

Previous Parti Quebecois governments held failed referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995.

Marois, breaking with recent party policy, said in June that it could take many years for Quebec to split from Canada and declined to say when she thought the next referendum might take place.

CROP Vice-President Claude Gauthier told La Presse that this more moderate stance would attract voters.

"For those people who want change and are fed up with Charest, but who don't necessarily want an ADQ government, the Parti Quebecois has become an option again," he said.

Support for the idea of breaking away from Canada rose to 39 percent from 32 percent in a CROP poll at the end of June. In the past, the figure has been as high as 50 percent.

The increase in support for separatism also rubbed off onto the federal Bloc Quebecois, whose legislators sit in Parliament in Ottawa. Quebecers' backing for the separatist Bloc was 35 percent, up seven points from June.

The governing Conservatives dropped two points to 26 percent support in the province, while the Liberals were stable at 21 percent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to boost the Conservative Party's standing in Quebec to stand a chance of winning a majority government.

Commentators say this could be difficult if soldiers from the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment start dying in large numbers in Afghanistan. Polls show most Quebecers oppose the Canadian mission there.

The CROP survey of 1,003 people was carried out from August 16 to 26 and is considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reuters
Last Mod: 30 Ağustos 2007, 15:36
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