French prefer independent Macron to favorite Fillon for president: poll

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2016 8:49 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - Most French voters including National Front supporters think independent Emmanuel Macron would make a better president than conservative election frontrunner Francois Fillon, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

But other surveys suggest Macron is unlikely to qualify for May's runoff vote, which Fillon is tipped to contest against the National Front's own candidate, party leader Marine Le Pen.

According to Friday's Odoxa poll, the preference for Macron over Fillon was clear-cut among left-wingers as well as supporters of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front. The poll questioned 1,015 people on Dec. 21 and 22.

Other regular polls focusing on actual voting intentions suggest Macron will be eliminated in the first round of voting on April 23.

They have also consistently shown former prime minister Fillon, the candidate of the Les Republicains party, winning the runoff against Le Pen.

In the Odoxa poll, 55 percent of respondents chose Macron when asked whether he or Fillon would make a better president, against 39 percent for Fillon. Among National Front voters the score was 56 percent to 37 percent.

The poll suggests there is strong public opposition to many of Fillon's flagship election plans.

His proposal to curb public funding of healthcare costs was opposed by 80 percent of respondents in the poll, and deep cuts in a public service staff by 62 percent. Some 59 percent opposed his call for closer ties with Russia, which is the target of European sanctions since it annexed Crimea.

Macron, an ex-investment banker and former economy minister in the current Socialist government, comes in a regular, if distant, third in polls of voting intentions.

He has yet to produce a detailed program but has portrayed himself as an independent reformist candidate who wants to break from the tradition of left-versus-right politics.

($1 = 0.9568 euros)

(Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and John Stonestreet)