Poll shows Macron has built up lead over Le Pen
Emmanuel Macron is for the first time slated to beat the Front National's Marine Le Pen in both rounds of France's presidential election, one poll suggested yesterday.
But the boost was contradicted by another survey suggesting that support for François Fillon had stopped "haemorrhaging" over corruption allegations, as the conservative candidate announced a new team to kick-start his faltering campaign, including figures close to ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Meanwhile, analysts said that record expected abstention rates meant that the outcome was still far from certain.
The Harris Interactive survey showed Mr Macron, a former economy minister, taking 26pc of the vote on April 23 - a six-point hike in two weeks - compared to 25pc for Ms Le Pen, who had long been leading in the first round. Mr Fillon would come third on 20pc.
With no outright majority expected, a run-off between the two top candidates will be held on May 7. The Harris poll suggests Mr Macron would take 65pc of that vote to Ms Le Pen's 35pc.
This came as senior figures from the left and centre threw their weight behind the 39-year-old ex-banker who promises a "democratic revolution" to install a "neither left nor right" administration.
The FN leader's campaign head, David Rachline, dismissed yesterday's poll, saying in reference to round one: "The reality right now is that Marine [Le Pen] is in front in almost all polls."
His claim was bolstered by another poll yesterday placing Ms Le Pen in pole position in round one on 27pc ahead of Mr Macron, which it saw at down two points on 23pc.
The Cevipov survey suggested that after a vertiginous drop in support over allegations he misused parliament funds to pay his wife for a "fake job", Mr Fillon is now "resisting" further deterioration after his Right-wing Républicains party unanimously backed him on Monday.
At 19.5pc, Mr Fillon is almost within striking distance of Mr Macron, who has hit a plateau, the Cevipov poll suggested. All surveys concur Mr Macron's lead remains the most fragile due to a volatile support base.
An Elabe poll for BFMTV this week showed 79pc of Ms Le Pen's supporters were certain to vote for her on April 23. Some 73pc of Mr Fillon supporters were also sure despite the fake jobs scandal, but only 45pc of those who currently back Mr Macron are sure of their decision.
The electorate has offered previous signs it is not totally convinced about Mr Macron; last month, his popularity dived after he controversially described France's colonisation of Algeria as a "crime against humanity".