Sarkozy would lose in 1st round of French presidential election -survey

Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech at the party headquarters after the first results of the French Regional Elections second round.
Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech at the party headquarters after the first results of the French Regional Elections second round.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (Reuters) - French conservative party leader Nicolas Sarkozy would be eliminated in the first round of presidential elections if they were held on Sunday, a poll published on Friday (Dec 18) showed.

His main challenger for the conservative ticket, Alain Juppe, would qualify for a run-off in first place, according to the survey by Ifop for website Atlantico, which also concluded that far-right leader Marine Le Pen would qualify under both scenarios.

If Sarkozy stood he would get 21 per cent of the vote, topped by Le Pen with 27 per cent and Socialist President Francois Hollande with 22 per cent. The poll assumed centrist leader Francois Bayrou would also make a presidential bid, getting 12 per cent of the vote.

If former prime minister and mayor of Bordeaux Juppe won the conservative nomination he would win 30 per cent, followed by Le Pen with 26 percent and Hollande with 20.5 per cent.

Under the French system, the first two candidates in the first round of presidential elections contest a run-off. The next presidential election is in 2017.

Juppe gained three points and Sarkozy lost two since the previous Ifop poll in November. Ifop polled 1,800 people between Dec. 14 and 17.

A separate Ifop-Fiducial opinion poll for Paris Match magazine and Sud-Radio this week showed that Hollande has become more popular than Sarkozy, for the first time since July 2012.

Hollande beat Sarkozy in 2012 elections on a platform to boost taxes on the rich, but dismal unemployment figures made him until recently the most unpopular president in France's post-war history.