PARIS (Reuters) - A majority of supporters of French President Nicolas Sarkozy want his UMP party to strike an alliance with the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen ahead of parliamentary elections in June, an opinion poll published on Tuesday showed.
Sarkozy and other leaders of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have so far ruled out any such deal.
“There has never been and there will never be an agreement with the extreme right,” UMP Finance Minister Francois Baroin said on television in a first reaction to the survey.
The poll was a further sign of the inroads being made by Le Pen, who scored a record 17.9 percent of the vote in the first round of a presidential election on Sunday.
The OpinionWay poll for daily Les Echos, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found 64 percent of UMP voters would back an alliance with the far-right party for parliamentary elections, and 59 percent of National Front voters favor such a pact.
Socialist Francois Hollande and Sarkozy, the two top scorers in round one, are scrambling to win over National Front voters ahead of a presidential runoff vote on May 6.
Le Pen, who took over from her father Jean-Marie as head of the National Front last year, has worked to give the party a more respectable face, going beyond its traditional anti-immigration agenda to advocate withdrawing from the euro.
Reporting By Vicky Buffery; Editing by Paul Taylor