Polls give pro-Queen faction 15% lead in referendum

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The Independent Online

With ten days to go until the constitutional referendum in Australia, voters are poised to deliver a decisive defeat to the republican cause, according to three opinion polls yesterday.

With ten days to go until the constitutional referendum in Australia, voters are poised to deliver a decisive defeat to the republican cause, according to three opinion polls yesterday.

The polls, the first for more than a fortnight, put the republicans 8 to 15 points behind their opponents, a loose coalition of monarchists and dissident republicans. However, one poll found that a large number of voters is still undecided, which suggests that the referendum will be won or lost during the final phase.

Australians will be asked on 6 November whether they want their country to become a republic, with the Queen replaced as head of state by an Australian president. A survey published by The Australian newspaper shows those againstthe idea leading by 56 per cent to 41 per cent, with republican support falling by 8 points since last month. Another poll, conducted by the Australian Labor Party, showed the same margin of support for the status quo.

The third poll, published in The Sydney Morning Herald , concluded that support for the republican cause has fallen by 10 points to just 33 per cent in the past fortnight, with themonarchist vote 2 points down at 41 per cent, and 26 per cent undecided.

The polls suggest that the monarchists are succeeding in their tactics of appealing to republicans who want a president to be elected by popular vote, persuading them that if they vote "no" this time, they will get the republic they want next time round. The current proposal is for the president to be elected by two-thirds of parliament after the public has been canvassed about potential candidates.

Today the Australian Republican Movement will unveil its latest weapon: the formerprime minister Bob Hawke, who will front a series of television advertisements warning Australians that if they vote "no" this time, they will not get another chance.

Mr Hawke, the second longest-serving prime minister in the country's history, still commands widespread affection and respect.

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