Zemmour widens gap over Le Pen in race for French presidential runoff vote - poll

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French far-right commentator Eric Zemmour attends a meeting for the promotion of his new book "La France n'a pas dit son dernier mot" (France has not yet said its last word) in Beziers, France, October 16, 2021. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

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PARIS, Nov 9 (Reuters) - A Harris Interactive opinion poll showed French right-wing commentator Eric Zemmour improving his position in second place behind President Emmanuel Macron in voting intentions for next year's presidential election.

The poll, published on Tuesday, projected Zemmour winning 18-19% of first-round votes, up one point and widening the gap over Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Rassemblement National party.

Macron remained in the lead, with an unchanged 23-24%.

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The new poll showed Zemmour winning 19% of first-round voting intentions if former European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wins the centre-right Les Republicains party's nomination on Dec. 4, and 18% if Xavier Bertrand or Valerie Pecresse does so.

The survey showed Le Pen slipping a point to secure 15-16% of first-round voting intentions.

Zemmour's surge in popularity in just a few months has come largely at the expense of Le Pen, who some polls in the summer projected winning as much as 28% of the first-round vote, higher than Macron.

The Harris poll forecast Macron would win the second-round runoff against all potential challengers, getting 58% of the votes against Zemmour and 55% against Le Pen.

Macron won the second round against Le Pen in 2017 with 66% of votes.

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Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Richard Lough and Ed Osmond

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