First fall in polls for centrist candidate Bayrou

22nd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 22, 2007 (AFP) - Francois Bayrou, the centrist who has emerged as a serious contender in France's presidential race, showed the first sign of losing ground Thursday as an opinion poll put him down four points in first round voting intentions.

PARIS, March 22, 2007 (AFP) - Francois Bayrou, the centrist who has emerged as a serious contender in France's presidential race, showed the first sign of losing ground Thursday as an opinion poll put him down four points in first round voting intentions.

The BVA survey for regional newspapers put Bayrou on 17 percent -- down from 21 percent on the previous week -- in the multi-candidate first round of the election in exactly one month.

Right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy was up two points at 31 percent and the Socialist Segolene Royal up one at 24 percent. Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen had 13 percent.

The gap between Royal and Bayrou, which was just two points a week ago, has opened up to seven, according to the poll. Only two candidates qualify for the decisive second round of the vote on May 6.

In the event of a Sarkozy-Royal run-off, Sarkozy -- of the ruling Union for Popular Movement (UMP) -- would win by 54 percent to 46, according to BVA.

Bayrou, 55, of the Union for French Democracy (UDF), shot up in the polls in recent weeks as voters expressed growing disenchantment with the two main parties of left and right.

Several surveys suggested Bayrou can beat Sarkozy in a run-off, opening up the chance of tactical first-round votes in his favour if Royal-supporters decide he is the best hope of keeping out the right-winger.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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