France's Hollande would lose election vs. Sarkozy, Le Pen: poll

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 15, 2014 1:36 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande would be beaten at the polls by both his center-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and far-right rival Marine Le Pen if he ran for re-election this week, an opinion survey showed on Tuesday.

Hollande's popularity has plummeted to record lows since he came to power two years ago, with voters increasingly frustrated about his failure to kickstart economic growth and bring down an unemployment rate stuck above 10 percent.

The survey by pollster OpinionWay showed that Hollande, whose term ends in 2017, would be knocked out in the first round of a two-round presidential election with 19 percent of votes versus 29 percent for Sarkozy and 25 percent for Le Pen.

In a run-off next Sunday between Sarkozy and National Front party chief Le Pen, the former president would win by 67 percent versus 33 percent for Le Pen, the poll showed.

If Hollande - who had an approval score of 17 percent in the poll - made it to the second round to face the anti-EU, anti-immigrant Le Pen in a runoff, he would win with 54 percent of votes versus 46 percent.

"It's the first time that a president is shown to be in such deep trouble in a poll, and that the National Front is so strongly positioned for the first round (of the presidential race) in the middle of a term," OpinionWay analyst Bruno Jeanbart said.

Hollande's Socialist Party suffered a rout in local elections last month, losing ground to both the center-right UMP opposition party and Marine Le Pen's National Front Party, which is slated to make strong gains in upcoming European elections.

The poor showing prompted Hollande to reshuffle his cabinet and appoint Manuel Valls as his new prime minister. But while Valls' popularity score has since improved Hollande's remains mired below 20 percent.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Angus MacSwan)