Duceppe losing left-wing support to NDP: Pollsters
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe (BENOIT GARIEPY/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - The NDP's sudden popularity in Quebec is threatening to sweep away many seats from the Bloc Quebecois, including the one belonging to Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who has held his riding since 1990.
Duceppe's riding, Laurier -- Sainte-Marie, is located just east of downtown Montreal and is an area with an electorate traditionally known for its left-leaning politics.
Laurier is part of the provincial riding that elected Amir Khadir to Quebec's legislature. He's the only representative of the province's most progressive party, Quebec Solidaire.
According to the poll-aggregating website threehundredeight.com, Duceppe is in trouble. He is only leading his NDP opponent by 0.4 percentage points, with 37.6% of the vote.
Youri Rivest, a vice president with Crop polling firm, said the socio-economic character of Duceppe's riding -- particularly youth poverty -- is fertile ground for an NDP win.
NDP Leader Jack Layton chose Duceppe's riding to hold the biggest Quebec rally in NDP history on April 23. Over 1,300 people showed up and the NDP said it registered a few hundred volunteers.
Rivest said that Duceppe's message in this election turned out to be a strategic mistake.
During the 2008 election, Duceppe focused his attacks on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on what Rivest called the "Canada-Quebec axis."
At the time, Duceppe said Harper's policies on young offenders and cultural issues were "Canadian" and offensive to Quebecers.
This time around, Rivest said Duceppe concentrated his attack on a "left-right axis," positioning the Bloc as the left alternative to Harper's right-wing politics.
Unfortunately for Duceppe, many Quebecers have turned to the NDP as the viable left-wing alternative, Rivest said.
Eric Grenier, author of threehundredeight.com, said that if he includes ridings where the NDP are within five percentage points from winning, the party could end up with as many as 32 seats in Quebec.
However, Grenier admitted that consistent, accurate riding-by-riding data is notoriously hard to come by in Canadian elections and seat projections can be unreliable.
Regardless, Rivest said election day May 2 will be a good one for the NDP in Quebec.
"I would be very surprised if the NDP do not win at least 10 seats," Rivest said.