Nearly two-thirds of French people favour Francois Hollande's idea of a 75 percent top tax rate, a poll on Friday showed, indicating that the Socialist candidate has struck a chord with voters two months before a presidential election.
Hollande, who leads opinion polls before the two-round vote in April and May, drew vehement criticism from the right on Monday when he unveiled plans to hike the marginal tax rate for those earning over 1 million euros a year.
Conservative rival President Nicolas Sarkozy accused him of worrying amateurism while economists warned a 75 percent rate, higher than any other OECD area country, would spur an exodus of the wealthy.
Yet a survey by pollster TNS Sofres and communication agency Mediaprism suggested the idea had gone down well with the public, with 61 percent of those questioned in favour versus 29 percent against. Ten percent gave no opinion.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents approved of Hollande's campaign proposals in general, behind centrist candidate Francois Bayrou, who garnered 42 percent approval.
The survey questioned 1,001 people aged over 18 on March 1, three days after Hollande made his supertax announcement.
The top income tax rate in France is currently 41 percent. Hollande, who has described his idea as moral, said the new rate would apply to about 3,000 taxpayers, bringing in 200-300 million euros a year.
Hollande is by far the favourite to win the election, with polls putting him as much as 20 points ahead of incumbent Sarkozy in the second round run-off in May.
But the Socialist has faced more of a challenge since mid-February, when Sarkozy declared himself a candidate and began to bombard his rivals with campaign pledges at a rate of one a week.
Sarkozy's poll scores have risen moderately since his official entry into the campaign, although he remains behind in terms of voting intentions for the crucial final round.
The latest survey by pollster IFOP for business consultancy Fiducial, published on February 29, put Sarkozy just 1.5 points behind Hollande in April's first round ballot, with 27 percent of the vote compared to Hollande's 28.5.
The poll showed Hollande would beat Sarkozy by 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent.
(Reporting By Vicky Buffery)