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Hollande Lead Over Sarkozy Is Shrinking, LH2-Yahoo Poll Shows

Francois Hollande
France's opposition Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election, Francois Hollande delivers a speech, on April 1, 2012, in Saint-Louis in the French island of La Reunion as part of a campaign visit in this French overseas Island. Photographer: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

Socialist Francois Hollande’s lead over Nicolas Sarkozy for the first round of the French presidential election dropped to 1 percentage point, and the gap also narrowed in the second round, a poll showed.

The survey by LH2 published today for Yahoo, shows Hollande winning 28.5 percent in the first round of elections, 2 points lower than in the previous poll, while Sarkozy remained stable at 27.5 percent. The poll, conducted on March 30 and 31, also shows the anti-free market leader Jean-Luc Melenchon gaining 4 points to 15 percent in the first round, putting him ahead of the anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou, LH2 said in an e-mailed release.

Hollande would win the decisive round of elections with 54 percent, compared with 45 percent for the incumbent president, according to the poll. Support for the Socialist Party candidate declined by 1 percentage point from the March 18 survey.

French voters will pick their president for the coming five years in two rounds of votes. The two winners of the 10-candidate first round on April 22 will square off on May 6.

Hollande has consistently led Sarkozy in second-round polls since he declared his candidacy last year. The Toulouse killings last month, in which a self-proclaimed jihadist murdered seven people, including three children, “helped strengthen Sarkozy’s presidential image but doesn’t appear to have brought gains in the electoral plan,” LH2 said in today’s statement.

The latest poll points to “Jean-Luc Melenchon emerging as the ‘third man’ of the elections,” while Le Pen and Bayrou “are losing influence” in the presidential debate, it said.

The poll questioned 973 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points for all vote intentions ranging between 40 percent and 60 percent, the release said.

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