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Le Pen loses ground to Macron in French election race: poll
[PARIS] French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to come out on top in the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday as far right leader Marine Le Pen fell further behind him in an Elabe poll published on Friday.
However, neither is totally assured a spot in the May 7 runoff round as both conservative Francois Fillon and hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon were seen narrowing Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen's lead over them.
Provided Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen do make it to the second round, the former economy minister was projected to win with 65 per cent against 35 per cent for Ms Le Pen, the survey for BFM TV and L'Express magazine showed.
It was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday before a shootout on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue that left a police officer dead and was claimed by the Islamic State.
The poll found that Mr Macron was set to win 24 per cent of the vote in the first round and Ms Le Pen would get 21.5 per cent, with his score steady from the last time it was conducted three days earlier while hers was down 1.5 percentage points.
Mr Fillon, who has slowly clawed back some ground lost after being hit by a fake jobs scandal, saw his score in the first round rise half a percentage point to 20 per cent.
Mr Melenchon, who would hike taxes on the rich and spend 100 billion euros (S$150 billion) of borrowed money on vast housebuilding and renewable energy projects, gained 1.5 points to 19.5 per cent as he built further on momentum he has seen after strong performances in television debates.
If Mr Melenchon makes it to the runoff, he is projected to beat both Ms Le Pen and Mr Fillon by comfortable margins although he is seen losing to Mr Macron 41 per cent to 59 per cent.
The number of people surveyed who expected to definitely turn out for the first round rose to 71 per cent, the highest so far during the campaign, although that is low by historical standards.