8 Sep 2008

Snap election in Canada

5:51 am on 8 September 2008

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called an early election for 14 October in a bid to strengthen his minority Conservative government.

He met Governor General Michaelle Jean - the representative of Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II - to request the dissolution of parliament.

It will be Canada's third national election in four years.

Latest polls indicate the Conservatives are ahead of the opposition Liberals.

The election has been widely expected, with Mr Harper complaining in recent weeks that parliament was "dysfunctional".

He led the Conservatives to victory in the 2006 election, ending 12 years of Liberal government.

The party currently has 127 of the 308 seats in parliament. The Liberals have 95, the Bloc Quebecois has 48 and the New Democratic Party (NDP) 30.

There are three Independent MPs, the Green Party has one seat and four are vacant.