France’s presidential election race is looking tighter than it was seven days ago, an opinion poll showed on Saturday as the main candidates took their campaigns to the south of the country.
Voting intentions in the April 23 first round for the frontrunners, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, showed both slipping one percentage point to 25 and 24 percent respectively.
Third-placed conservative Francois Fillon gained two points to 19 percent, and the far left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon one point to 15 percent, the BVA poll said.
Complicating predictions, 38 percent of people either could not say how they would vote, or may yet change their minds. That was down two percentage points from a week earlier, but showed that the race remains wide open.
The poll showed independent Macron had solidified his voter base, with 63 percent of those opting for him sure of their decision, up 8 points from a week ago and his highest certainty score since campaigning began in earnest in February.
However, Le Pen still had by far the most solid voter base, with an unchanged 81 percent of her voters certain to pick her.
Shock election outcomes abroad including the U.S. presidential victory of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit referendum vote have fed expectations that Le Pen’s anti-euro, anti-immigration platform could sweep her to power in France.
The poll though, like others this year, showed Macron beating her with 60 percent of votes in the May 7 second round.
Fillon’s recovery from the lows that followed a fake work scandal surrounding his wife puts him within 5 points of Le Pen and 6 points of Macron, with some voters previously tempted to abstain deciding to go for him after all, BVA’s commentary said.
BVA put Melenchon’s climb since a strong performance in the first TV debate on March 20 partly down to more of his natural sympathizers deciding to vote.
SOURCE: Channels Tv