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Prince Edward Island's New Democrats have chosen a new leader.

Dean Constable, a 26-year-old stage manager from Charlottetown, beat out 53-year-old Michael DesRoches, who works with child and family services.

Mr. Constable says he received 29 votes to Mr. DesRoches's 19 in the one-member-one-vote leadership convention in Summerside on Saturday.

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The new leader replaces Gary Robichaud, a popular leader who resigned in June 2005 to battle lung cancer.

Mr. Constable says he hopes to improve the fortunes of the party, which has only ever elected one member to the provincial legislature: Herb Dickieson in 1993.

He says Islanders are eager to see change from Premier Pat Binns, whose Conservative government has been in office for the past 10 years.

Support for the New Democrats typically ranges between seven and nine per cent, but a February 2006 poll suggested the party had the support of only four per cent of Islanders.

Still, Mr. Constable believes the New Democrats could shore up enough support to capture a seat in the next election.

The Conservatives' recent budget, which included tax cuts and increased spending, have prompted speculation that Binns might call an election this fall.

"I think there's a real spirit of change here, and I think there's a real opportunity for the party to have a strong showing and a breakthrough in the next election," said Constable.

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"But earning the trust of voters is something that takes time, and we are ready to fight for this change as long as it takes."

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