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Sarkozy gains on rival after launching campaign: poll

French president gains poll points after announcing he will run for re-election, edging closer to his Socialist rival

AFP , Monday 20 Feb 2012
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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 per cent 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 per cent.

Hollande's support was stable for the first round, but he remained the clear favourite to win a second-round run-off, with 56 per cent to Sarkozy's 44 per cent.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) saw her support fall by 1.5 points to 16.5 per cent of intended votes while centrist Francois Bayrou's support was stable at 13 per cent.

"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 22 April 22 and 6 May.

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.

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