Almost half of NDP, Liberal supporters favour merger: survey

If the official Opposition NDP were to merge with the rebuilding Liberal party, almost half the supporters of both organizations would be behind the move.

As both political parties are in the midst of finding new leaders, 44 per cent of NDP supporters and 41 per cent of Liberal supporters agreed a unified party would be effective in challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in an election.

But, the results of a new Ipsos Reid poll, conducted on behalf of Global News and Postmedia News, also show support for either party on its own still trails behind the Conservatives.

The Conservatives, although ahead, dropped three points in popularity , to 37 per cent, in the months since winning a majority mandate for the first time since taking office in 2006.

If an election were to happen tomorrow, the NDP would receive about 31 per cent of the popular vote, the same proportion it won May 2.

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The Liberals, under the leadership of interim leader Bob Rae, jumped two points in popularity, up to 21 per cent of Canadians.

It’s a compliment to opinions of political pundits, who think Rae’s performance so far shows he would make a suitable choice for permanent party leader.

Canadians surveyed in the Global News/Ipsos poll , on the other hand, beg to differ.

Only one in three agree Rae is doing a better job than interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel facing down the Harper Conservative majority.

Who comes after Turmel, and succeeds the late Jack Layton, is of interest to Canadians of all political stripes, with 61 per cent of respondents saying they’re following the NDP leadership race.

Ipsos Reid also asked Canadians about what qualifications they feel are important factors in the search for Layton’s replacement.

Eight in ten people, or 78 per cent, think the new leader should be fluently bilingual, but not necessarily from Quebec.

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Only three in ten (27 per cent) agree or somewhat agree the leader should hail from Canada’s only francophone province.

That’s in stark contrast to respondents in the province. Nearly two-thirds of Quebecers, 63 per cent, want an NDP leader from the province.

Party supporters across the country weren’t convinced being from Quebec is a must, which could be a contentious issue after the unprecedented NDP surge in the province last spring.

Fifty-eight per cent of NDP backers surveyed nationally strongly or somewhat disagreed a Quebecois leader is the only way to go.