French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his key socialist contender Francois Hollande have narrowed the gap between them less than a week ahead of the first round of presidential election, polls indicate.
An Ipsos-Logica poll, conducted April 13-14 and released Tuesday, showed both candidates tied at 27 percent of votes, a Dow Jones Newswires report said. Hollande lost 1.5 percentage points since a similar poll held by the same agency last week while Sarkozy lost 2 percentage points.
In the case of a runoff, to be held in early May if no candidate secures 50 percent of the votes in the first round Sunday, Hollande would beat Sarkozy 56-44 percent, the poll predicted.
However, a poll by BVA, carried out Monday and Tuesday and released Wednesday, showed Sarkozy would get 27.5 percent of the votes in the first round and Hollande 29.5 percent. The poll was conducted after the two candidates held rallies in Paris at the same time Sunday.
The BVA poll showed Hollande winning with 56 percent of the votes in the second round, a figure which remained unchanged from the last survey.
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The real key to the first round isn't so much the name of the winner at the finish line, but the balance between right and left, Gael Sliman of BVA said. There are more left-wing votes for Hollande than right wing votes for Sarkozy in the second round, according to BVA.
While voters for the five leftist candidates in the first round will massively vote for Hollande in the second round, that's not the case with the right and Sarkozy, Jean-Francois Doridot, director general of pollster Ipsos, said in a statement accompanying an April 9 poll, according to thestar.com. The poll showed Hollande leading Sarkozy 55-45 in the second round. That's what for the moment makes a Sarkozy victory in the second round difficult, he said.
Polls show Hollande's three years of effort to unite the left against Sarkozy paying off while the latter is struggling with the highest unemployment rate in 12 years and disapproval rating of 64 percent.
The polls suggested that the two key candidates are way ahead of the other contenders, with far right candidate Marine Le Pen placed third with 14 percent of the votes in the first round.
Ipsos poll surveyed 894 registered voters while BVA's sample size was 1,181.
Meanwhile, former president Jacques Chirac will reportedly switch sides and vote for Hollande, dealing a blow for his estranged former protégé, Sarkozy.
Sarkozy responded to the report of Chirac and his daughter Claude - who was romantically linked to him years ago - switching allegiance, saying it was sad that the former presidential entourage should try to manipulate him in this way, reported the Independent. Sarkozy suggested that Chirac, 79, who was diagnosed with a mild form of Alzheimer's disease, was incapable of having an opinion.