French Socialists still trail four other Presidential candidates as primary approaches: poll

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and Member of the European Parliament, attends the election of the new President of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann - RTSVWRG

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Socialists still trail well behind four other main candidates for the French presidency days ahead of the first round of the party’s presidential primary, according to extracts from a new opinion poll published by Le Monde.

An article on the newspaper’s web site on Thursday said the poll by Cevipof put far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen in front for the first round of the election itself on between 25 and 26 percent.

Conservative Francois Fillon was close behind her on between 23 and 25 percent, with independent Emmanuel Macron on between 17 percent and over 20 percent.

Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Party was in fourth place, set to gather 14-15 percent of the vote, between five and seven points ahead of any of the leading three Socialists, the article said.

All the predicted scores varied according to which Socialist candidate emerges from the primaries and depending on whether the centrist Francois Bayrou decides to stand or not, the article said. The poll itself was not immediately available.

Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, ex-economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, and Benoit Hamon, a former education minister, are due to contest the first round of the Socialist primaries on Sunday. A second round is due to take place on Jan. 29 between the top two scoring candidates.

The first round of the election itself is due to take place on April 23, with the top two scoring candidates also going through to a second, run-off round.

The Le Monde report did not mention a second round prediction. Most polls predicting a run-off result have shown Fillon beating Le Pen in that second round, although some scenarios have predicted a contest that Macron would win.

Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta