Most French believe Sarkozy will lose election: poll

PARIS Sun Oct 2, 2011 2:42pm EDT

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy waits for a guest on the steps of the Elysee Palace in Paris September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy waits for a guest on the steps of the Elysee Palace in Paris September 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

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PARIS (Reuters) - Two thirds of French voters believe President Nicolas Sarkozy will lose next year's elections if he runs -- including more than half of his own party's supporters, a survey showed Sunday.

Sarkozy, whose popularity slid back to near record lows in September, is yet to announce whether he will run for the presidency next April and May, but according to a poll by ViaVoice for left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation, 68 percent of people think he would lose the election.

Sarkozy's government was dealt a sharp blow this week, just seven months before the election, when left-wing candidates wrested control of the Senate for the first time in more than 50 years.

The survey of 1,007 people of voting age was conducted between Sep. 29 and October 1 with those polled citing Sarkozy's economic policies and public debt and deficit issues as their main cause for concern.

Worryingly for Sarkozy, 54 percent of those supporting his UMP party said they did not think he would win the election.

With a week until the first round of the opposition Socialists' presidential primary, former party leader Francois Hollande continues to be its most popular candidate.

According to the ViaVoice survey, the general public would prefer French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to run as the presidential candidate from Sarkozy's party, although 54 percent of UMP voters still think the president would be the best man to run.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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