Far-right Le Pen now second most-liked French politician, poll shows

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party candidate for French 2017 presidential election, smiles before voting in the second round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, France, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS, March 31 (Reuters) - France's veteran far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is the second most-liked politician in the country, according to a poll on Thursday which came 10 days ahead of the first round of voting.

According to the Elabe poll for Les Echos newspaper and Radio Classique, 35% of those polled said they had a "good image" of Le Pen. In 2017, when she lost to Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election's runoff, the figure stood at 32%.

Le Pen has overtaken former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the poll, who came in third with 33% of positive opinions. She still lags, however, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who scored 44%.

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The Elabe poll did not test the popularity of President Emmanuel Macron nor that of his Prime Minister Jean Castex.

In 2017, 46% of those polled by Elabe had a "very poor image" of Le Pen, who is gearing up for her third presidential bid, against 34% now.

Le Pen has softened her image since 2017, ditching unpopular plans to drop the euro, tweeting about her passion for cats, and on one occasion taking selfies with a veiled Muslim girl.

Although polls showed Macron received a boost in voting intentions after Russia waged war on Ukraine, he is now falling back as Le Pen gains ground.

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Reporting by Dominique Vidalon ; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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