Polls see clear win for Hollande in French runoff
PARIS, April 23 — French Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande will beat incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy in the May 6 second-round ballot with about 53 to 56 per cent of the vote, according to polls conducted after the close of yesterday’s first round.
Hollande won the first round with 28.46 per cent of the vote to 27.06 per cent for Sarkozy - with 95 per cent of the votes counted - making it essential for both to win over voters from eliminated candidates in order to emerge triumphant in runoff in two weeks.
Battling to convince voters he is the best man to lead France to economic recovery after four years of crisis, Sarkozy faces an uphill battle for a second term against Hollande, a mainstream social-democrat who has never held a cabinet minister job.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen injected an unexpected dose of uncertainty into the final round by securing a record 18.23 per cent of the first-round vote.
Despite the strong showing of the far-right, a CSA poll found that Hollande would beat Sarkozy with a comfortable lead, securing as much as 56 per cent of the votes in the second round.
Pollsters Ifop-Fiducial gave Hollande 54.5 per cent while Ipsos and Harris Interactive found he would get 54 per cent. A BVA poll put Hollande at 53 per cent.
Pollsters Ipsos found that as much 60 per cent of Le Pen‘s supporters would vote for Sarkozy in the second round, while Ifop-Fiducial found only 48 per cent would, although 21 per cent would either not vote or not say what they would do.
Most voters for hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in fourth place in the first round with 10.9 per cent, are set to back Hollande.
People who backed centrist Francois Bayrou, who came in fifth with 9.2 per cent, had a slight preference for Sarkozy over Hollande, according to the Ifop and BVA polls.
However, the CSA poll found that 40 per cent of Bayrou’s voters would back Hollande in the runoff and only 25 per cent would vote for Sarkozy.
The first-round results leave Sarkozy in the tricky position of having to conduct a campaign aimed at winning over voters on the far-right and in the centre who could be tempted by Hollande.
All the polls were conducted for various French media shortly after the results of the first round were made public.
Second-round outcome calculator http://r.reuters.com/nym77s For a Graphic on French polls http://r.reuters.com/was36s French election online http://link.reuters.com/pyr27s Interactive look at Sarkozy http://link.reuters.com/wun96s. — Reuters