Former French prime minister Francois Fillon would beat National Front leader Marine Le Pen by 63 percent to 37 percent if they were to meet head-to-head in a presidential election runoff in May, a poll showed yesterday.
The POP 2017 poll was in line with the findings of other surveys showing Fillon losing momentum with his share of the vote in the first round, falling to 24 percent from as much as 27.5 percent a month ago.
The poll showed him trailing Le Pen by 1 or 2 percentage points in the first-round vote on April 23, but picking up enough votes from other defeated candidates, including from among the Socialists, to defeat her comfortably in the May 7 knockout.
The poll also appeared to confirm that Emmanuel Macron, a popular former economy minister under French President Francois Hollande who is running as an independent, might still be in a position to pull off a surprise.
Macron is seen as coming in third place in the first round with 16 to 20 percent of the vote, the poll showed, depending on which candidate the Socialists pick for the party ticket in their primaries this month.
However, he might be able to count on scooping up much of the 5 percent of the votes that the poll attributed to Pau Mayor Francois Bayrou if the latter does not enter the race.
Bayrou, a former French minister of education, has social policies close to those of Macron and so his supporters might throw their weight behind the former investment banker.
Bayrou has not yet said whether he will run.
The poll, which had a margin of error of 3.3 percent, was conducted over the Internet from Friday last week to Sunday, and was based on a sample of 946 people registered to vote.
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