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Poll of voting intentions shows France's Fillon lost ground to centrist Macron

Francois Fillon (L), former French prime minister, member of The Republicans political party and 2017 presidential candidate of the French centre-right, and his wife Penelope Fillon stand close at the end of a political rally in Paris, France, January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) - French presidential frontrunner Francois Fillon lost ground in his campaign for this spring’s election to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, according to a Kantar-Sofres poll of voting intentions for Le Figaro newspaper published on Sunday.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen would come first in the election’s first round in April with 25 percent of the votes, while Fillon would garner 21-22 percent and Macron 20-21 percent, the poll showed.

In the runoff to be held on May 7, both Fillon, a conservative, and Macron were seen winning if either was pitted against Le Pen, while Macron would beat Fillon in the knockout.

The survey of voting intentions was taken on Jan. 26 and 27 - after a press report in a satirical weekly about his wife’s employment embroiled Fillon in scandal.

“A runoff without Francois Fillon is no longer ruled out,” Emmanuel Riviere at Sofres pollster told Reuters. “What boosts Emmanuel Macron’s momentum is above all Penelopegate,” he said, referring to the “fake jobs” scandal around Fillon’s wife Penelope.

(This story has been refiled to add dropped word in headline.)

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Balmforth