Sarkozy narrows rival Hollande’s lead
French President Nicolas Sarkozy inched up against rival presidential contender Francois Hollande, a poll published Monday showed, less than one week after officially declaring his bid for a second term in office.
AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy was gaining on his Socialist rival after officially announcing his re-election bid last week but still faces a tough challenge, a poll indicated on Monday.
The OpinionWay poll for newspaper Le Figaro showed Sarkozy with 27 percent of intended votes in the first round, up 1.5 points from the previous poll and within striking distance of Socialist candidate Francois Hollande with 29 percent.
Hollande's support was stable for the first round, but he remained the clear favourite to win a second-round run-off, with 56 percent to Sarkozy's 44 percent.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) saw her support fall by 1.5 points to 16.5 percent of intended votes while centrist Francois Bayrou's support was stable at 13 percent.
"The gap is narrowing between the two main candidates in the presidential election, who are widening the gap with the other candidates," Le Figaro wrote.
Centre-right Sarkozy announced his candidacy on Wednesday for the two-round vote, to be held on April 22 and May 6.
He has since held a series of campaign events including a rally in Marseille on Sunday in which he called for the French people to stand with him to defend the traditional values of a strong France.