France’s presidential election race is looking tighter than it was seven days ago with three weeks to run before voting starts, an opinion poll shows.
First round voting intentions for the frontrunners, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, both slipped by one percentage point to 25 and 24 per cent respectively, while third placed conservative Francois Fillon gained two points to 19 per cent, and the far left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon one point to 15 per cent, the BVA poll said.
In a further signal of continued unpredictability, 38 per cent 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 still a high percentage by French election standards.
The poll showed independent Macron had solidified his voter base, with 63 per cent 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 per cent of her voters certain to pick her.
Shock outcomes like the election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s Brexit referendum vote have fed expectations that Le Pen’s anti-euro, anti-immigration platform will sweep her to power in France.
The poll though, like others this year, showed Macron beating her with 60 per cent 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.