PARIS (REUTERS) - Support for President Emmanuel Macron rose to its highest yet in polling intentions for the first round of France's presidential election, boosted by his role in the Ukraine crisis, according to a poll published on Monday (Feb 28).
Macron gained two points in the IFOP poll for Paris Match, rising to 28%, the highest level since the start of the rolling poll.
It comes less than two months before the election's first round on April 10.
In second place, far-right rival Marine Le Pen lost 0.5 points to 16%, while third-placed Eric Zemmour dropped 1.5 points to 14%. Centre-right conservative Valerie Pecresse dropped 1 point to 13%.
Macron has led European efforts to avert war in Ukraine, flying to Moscow earlier this month to meet Putin and spending hours on the phone with him and other world leaders over the past weeks to mediate.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put his far-right rivals on the backfoot, forcing the usually Russophile Le Pen and Zemmour to justify their past support for Putin. The two had to issue criticism of the Kremlin's move since the invasion started.
Macron, who has yet to make his decision to run for re-election official but is widely expected to, was seen as winning the April 24 runoff against all candidates, and would beat Le Pen by 56.5% to 43.5%, according to the poll of 1,500 respondents.
Another poll over the weekend showed voters approved of Macron's role in the Ukraine crisis. Some 58% of the French think he did well, according to Harris Interractive, while only 28% of them approved of Le Pen and 21% of Zemmour.
Almost two thirds of respondents said the Ukraine crisis will influence the way they vote in the election.