PARIS, July 17 A clear majority of French
centre-right voters want former president Nicolas Sarkozy to
seek re-election in 2017 and his support has grown despite legal
troubles facing him and his party, an opinion survey showed on
The Ifop poll published by the Atlantico news web site
showed that 60 percent of UMP opposition party supporters want
Sarkozy, who lost a re-election bid to Socialist President
Francois Hollande in 2012, to try again in 2017.
Sarkozy's support has risen by 10 percentage points since
early May. The poll was conducted after Sarkozy was placed under
formal investigation in early July on suspicion that he tried to
influence magistrates examining his 2007 election campaign
The UMP itself is in the midst of a legal inquiry into
whether party officials used its books to cover up millions of
euros of overspending on Sarkozy's 2012 election campaign.
Sarkozy has denied all wrongdoing in both cases.
"Far from weakening Sarkozy, they (legal woes) have
reinforced his domination over his camp, as if a large majority
of UMP voters were standing behind the man they see as a last
resort," said Ifop analyst Jerome Fourquet, referring to the
2017 presidential vote.
The UMP, rocked this month by an audit which revealed an
80-million-euro funding shortfall, is due to choose a new leader
at a congress scheduled for November, with ex-prime minister
Alain Juppe expected to bid for the post.
But while Juppe is popular with UMP voters, only 18 percent
said they wanted to see him run for president.
While Sarkozy has low approval scores with left-wing voters,
his support has deepened on the centre-right due to frustration
with Hollande - the most unpopular French president since World
War two - and the sense he may be the right's best bet in 2017.
Sarkozy has said he will make his intentions known with
regard to the election in early September.
Ifop questioned 336 UMP sympathisers between July 10 and 16.
(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Mark Heinrich)