Juppe favourite to win French primaries, though loses some ground – poll

French politician Alain Juppe, current mayor of Bordeaux, a member of the conservative Les Republicains political party and candidate for the centre-right presidential primary, attends a rally as he campaigns in Bordeaux, France, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
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PARIS (Reuters) – Former prime minister Alain Juppe remains front-runner to win the centre-right’s nomination for France’s 2017 presidential election in spite of losing some ground, a poll said on Friday.

The Odoxa poll for France Info radio station said Juppe was seen winning 36 percent of votes in the first round of primaries on Nov. 20, although this was seven percentage points down on a month ago.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in second place with 26 percent, a score that was unchanged from a month ago, while the score for Francois Fillon, another former prime minister, increased by nine percentage points to 20 percent.

The top two from this first round of voting go through to a second round, unless one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent in the first.

In the second round, the Odoxa poll sees Juppe winning with 58 percent versus an expected 42 percent for Sarkozy – although Juppe’s second-round score was again down seven percentage points from last month.

The winner of the primaries has a good chance of prevailing in the presidential election due in April and May 2017, given Socialist President Francois Hollande’s unpopularity and divisions among left-wing candidates.

Polls suggest far-right leader Marine Le Pen will make the second round run-off, and Donald Trump’s shock victory in the U.S. presidential election has led prominent French politicians to warn she could win unless her mainstream rivals get their act together.

(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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