02/26/2012 03:57 EST | Updated 04/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Election in the air: Quebec gears up for possible spring campaign

MONTREAL - Quebec's opposition parties are busy again today amid growing speculation the governing Liberals could call a spring election.

Francois Legault, leader of the new Coalition for Quebec's Future, announced six new party candidates at a Sunday morning news conference.

The candidates will primarily target ridings held by Premier Jean Charest's Liberals in the Montreal area.

The left-leaning Quebec solidaire also announced 16 new candidates and says it's hoping to field candidates in every riding in the next election.

Meanwhile, the Parti Quebecois held a news conference this afternoon to accuse the Liberals of mishandling two major transportation projects.

Public opinion polls show a three-way race between the PQ, Liberals and Coalition, though the Coalition's popularity has dropped considerably in the past few weeks.

The slumping poll numbers may have caused one potential star candidate to get cold feet.

Gaetan Barrette, president of the federation representing medical specialists in Quebec, has been considering a run for the Coalition. But he wasn't part of Sunday's announcement, and suggested in an interview with Radio-Canada that the party's poll numbers were part of the reason.

Charest has until late 2013 to call an election, though he might not wait that long.

Witnesses will likely begin testifying this fall at an inquiry into corruption in the construction industry. Charest may want to call an election before that happens to avoid being connected to any potential scandals as voters head to the polls.

At a news conference Sunday, Legault said Charest can't afford to put off an election much longer.

"It's the only window left," he said, referring to this spring. "Charest doesn't have a choice."