PARIS • French President Francois Hollande's poor prospects of winning a second term have been further dented, after a poll suggested he would not even win the endorsement of his own Socialist Party.
Opinion polls have, for many months, shown him losing next year's presidential election to all likely adversaries.
But the new poll published yesterday pointed to him being defeated in the party's candidate selection process by former industry minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Mr Montebourg, 53, who made his mark by espousing a markedly leftist line, announced on Sunday that he would take part in the January pre-selection contest.
The BVA-Salesforce poll, conducted last month, showed Mr Montebourg winning the left-wing primary with 52 per cent of votes.
Mr Hollande, 62, is France's most unpopular leader in modern history and has yet to declare his intention. He is expected to do so in December.
The election is likely to come down to a second-round battle between the centre-right party ticket - most likely former prime minister Alain Juppe or former president Nicolas Sarkozy - and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
Mr Montebourg made his mark in 2011 by winning a surprisingly large 17 per cent of votes in the primary where Mr Hollande secured the party ticket. The President then beat Mr Sarkozy in the May 2012 ballot.
Despite a remit to help secure a renewal of industry and stem a movement of industrial jobs to lower- wage countries in eastern Europe, Mr Montebourg's ministerial term in Mr Hollande's Cabinet saw several high-profile factory closures.
He has not always spoken kindly of the president. When Mr Hollande's now former partner, Ms Segolene Royal, was running for president in 2007, Mr Montebourg, her spokesman at the time, famously said Ms Royal "has only one flaw - her companion".