Juppé widens lead over Sarkozy ahead of French presidential primaries
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Former prime minister Alain Juppé has widened his lead over rival Nicolas Sarkozy to win the centre-right's nomination for France's 2017 presidential elections, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.
Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, initially narrowed the gap with Juppé when he launched his campaign in August on a law-and-order platform. But his hardline strategy seems to be backfiring as the primaries vote nears.
Juppé is seen winning 41 percent of the votes in the first round on November 20, up four points from last month, while Sarkozy loses three points to 30 percent, the poll carried out by Ipsos pollsters and the Cevipof research institute showed.
None of the five other, lesser known candidates would attract many votes, meaning Sarkozy and Juppé are all but certain to face each other in the two-person run-off on November 27.
The poll forecasts that Juppé, who was prime minister from 1995 to 1997 and held the posts of foreign minister and defence minister after that, will win that run-off easily with 60 percent of the votes, up 4 points from last month's survey.
The winner of the primaries has a good chance of prevailing in the presidential election in May, considering Socialist President François Hollande's deep unpopularity and the divisions amid left-wing candidates.
The winner's presumed opponent in the second round run-off would most likely not be a Socialist but far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who - despite her growing popularity - is seen as unable to muster a majority nationwide.
Open primaries work in Juppé’s favour
party primaries are open to all French voters, with anyone willing to pay €2 and sign a declaration that they share the values of the centre–right able to take part.
This gives Juppé a considerable advantage over Sarkozy, according to the poll, which shows Juppé benefiting from overwhelming support from centrist and even left–wing voters, with more than 90 percent of them backing him.
Three recent studies also reveal that between 260,000 and 560,000 traditionally leftist voters may be planning to “crash” the right-wing primary in November to
Sarkozy is slightly ahead of Juppé with Les Républicains voters, with 51 percent against Juppé’s 49 percent.
The same survey showed that only 4 percent of voters are satisfied with Hollande – a record low – whose popularity has been further hit by the publication of a damaging tell-all book in which he is quoted as calling judges "cowards" and accusing former partner Valierie Trierweiler of “obsessive jealousy”.
The poll was conducted on October 14-19 among 17,047 voters. The part on the primaries only takes into account the 1,217 people certain to vote.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)