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OTTAWA - Bernard Landry could still lead the Parti Québécois to victory in the next Quebec election, according to a new poll.

``It's extremely tight,'' said Christian Boucher of EKOS Research Associates Inc.

The poll also found that support for sovereignty in the province is higher now than at the start of the campaign for the 1995 referendum.

The polling firm, which surveyed 688 Quebec voters between July 26 and Aug. 29, found that of decided voters, 44.9 per cent said they would vote for the Quebec Liberals, while 41.7 per cent would vote for the Parti Québécois.

The poll also found that 11.1 per cent said they would vote for the Action Démocratique du Québec, and 2.3 per cent other parties. However, 17.1 per cent of the poll's respondents were undecided. The margin of error is 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The survey shows a continued support base for Quebec sovereignty, with 42 per cent of those polled saying they would vote Yes on the same question that was asked in 1995.

That's three points more than the support expressed for sovereignty when former premier Jacques Parizeau launched the referendum campaign in 1995.

In the Oct. 30 vote that year, 49.4 per cent said yes to creating their own nation.

Boucher pointed out that, historically, a lead of 3.2 percentage points is not enough for the Liberals to win an election. Liberal support is concentrated in ridings with a substantial non-French-speaking population. ``It takes at least a four-point gap for the Liberals to win,'' Boucher said.

Yesterday, Landry staked his prestige on a Parti Québécois victory in four by-elections to be held Oct. 1. He asked voters in the four ridings to make Quebec independence an issue when they go to the polls. The four contested ridings are considered PQ strongholds.

With files from Robert McKenzie

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