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Citigroup sees Macron winning French vote, changing its earlier Fillon forecast

Supporters of Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, distribute political leaflets to support their candidate, in Lyon, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. investment bank Citigroup said on Monday it had changed its baseline, or most probable, scenario for the French presidential election to a win for centrist Emmanuel Macron, compared to its earlier forecast of a victory for conservative Francois Fillon.

“We change our baseline to a Macron win (35 percent probability) – Fillon is our alternative scenario (30 percent),” Citigroup wrote in a research note.

It added it had increased the probability of a victory for far-right, National Front leader Marine Le Pen to 25 percent, but said it still saw a Le Pen win as “quite unlikely”, while a recent surge in polls for far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon meant Citigroup put a “wild card scenario” result at 10 percent.

Opinion polls have consistently rated Macron as most likely to win the decisive, second-round run-off vote in May, although Citigroup cautioned that Macron’s “En Marche!” (Onwards!) party remained unlikely to get an outright majority in the French parliament in June legislative elections.

“Even if Macron wins, we think it is unlikely that En Marche! will have an outright majority in the 577-seat lower house. Our baseline is a governing coalition, with a centre-right prime minister and with the support of some of the reformist part of the Socialist Party,” wrote the U.S bank.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Adrian Croft