July 31, 2014 / 11:03 AM / 5 years ago

Marine Le Pen could knock out Socialists in French president race: poll

PARIS (Reuters) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen would reach the final round of a presidential election if voters were to vote now, winning more votes than any mainstream party in the first round, a poll showed on Thursday.

Marine Le Pen, France's National Front political party head, addresses a news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels May 28, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The survey by pollster IFOP showed Le Pen winning 26 percent of all votes in round one of the two-round election, versus 17 percent for either President Francois Hollande or his more popular prime minister, Manuel Valls.

The next presidential election is in 2017.

Le Pen, whose anti-European Union, anti-immigration party won most votes in the European Parliament election in May, would also get more votes in the first round than conservative ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, whom the poll showed winning 25 percent of total votes.

No Socialist contender would reach the second round if both Le Pen and Sarkozy are candidates in the election, the poll showed.

The poll did not explore whether Le Pen would prevail in a final run-off against any of those possible candidates.

Sarkozy, who this month was placed under formal investigation on suspicion of influence peddling and other activities linked to a campaign financing probe, has said he will clarify his political ambitions in September. He denies any wrongdoing.[ID:nP6N0PC000]

The poll, which was published in left-leaning magazine Marianne, showed that Le Pen would score far better than Sarkozy among blue-collar and low-income workers while Sarkozy would prevail among executives and business owners.

While Prime Minister Manuel Valls has maintained healthy approval ratings since he took office in March, Hollande is struggling with rock-bottom popularity linked to stubbornly high unemployment and weak economic growth.

The poll was conducted on July 21 and 22 and 947 people were questioned online.

Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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