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France’s Le Pen Gains Voter Support as Sarkozy, Hollande Stall

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s anti-euro National Front, is gaining support as backing for President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande stalls, an Ifop poll showed.

About 20 percent would back Le Pen if an election were held now, up from 19 percent a month ago and 17 percent in October, according to an Ifop poll for Le Journal du Dimanche published today. Support for Sarkozy has dropped to 24 percent from 26 percent a month ago and backing for Hollande has declined to 27.5 percent from 32.5 percent, the poll showed.

The results suggest that both the leading candidates suffered after Francois Bayrou and Dominique de Villepin declared their intentions to seek the presidency. The 2012 election consists of two rounds, with the two leading candidates from balloting in April 22 holding a face-off May 6.

Voting intentions for the second round were unchanged, with Hollande holding at 56 percent support and Sarkozy 44 percent, Ifop said.

Ifop interviewed 937 voters between Dec. 13 and 15. The margin of error for the results on the three leading candidates is between 2 and 3 percentage points, it said.

A separate Ipsos poll for Le Monde daily showed Hollande would win the first round with 32 percent, down 3 percentage points from a month earlier. Sarkozy would gather 25.5 percent, up 1.5 points and Le Pen would get 17 percent, down 2 points. The pollster called 5,415 registered voters between Nov. 30 and Dec. 5 and didn’t publish margins of error.

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