March 12, 2012 / 7:41 PM / 8 years ago

Sarkozy takes first round French election lead: poll

A supporter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, holds the national flag with a picture of him as she reacts during a campaign rally in Villepinte, northern Paris March 11, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - A new poll put President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of Francois Hollande for the first time on Tuesday in the first round of France’s presidential election next month, although it showed his Socialist rival winning the second.

The Ifop/Fiducial poll put support for Sarkozy at 28.5 percent in the first round on April 22, up from 27 percent at the end of February. Support for Hollande slipped to 27 percent, from 28.5 percent, the poll showed.

Hollande would still triumph in the May 22 runoff between the two top candidates with 54.5 percent of the vote to Sarkozy’s 45.5 percent, although his lead has narrowed with Hollande losing two percentage points and Sarkozy gaining two.

The election is becoming a clear two-horse race between Sarkozy, who promises tighter immigration controls, structural economic reforms and policy referendums, and Hollande, who is running on a tax-and-spend programme while also promising to cut the budget deficit.

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