April 17, 2017 / 4:05 PM / 4 months ago

France's Macron, Le Pen edge further ahead of Fillon, Melenchon in poll

Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, delivers a speech during a visit at the INRIA in Montbonnot-Saint-Martin, near Grenoble, France, April 14, 2017.Robert Pratta

PARIS (Reuters) - French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to top the voting in the first round of France's presidential election ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, and their leads over conservative Francois Fillon and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon have widened, a poll showed on Monday.

The Elabe poll for magazine L'Express showed Macron winning 24 percent of the vote on Sunday, up from 23.5 percent the last time the survey was conducted a week ago.

Le Pen's score also improved slightly, rising to 23 percent from 22.5 percent, which would put her and Macron on course to face off in a May 7 runoff that he was seen winning by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Fillon and Melenchon, who both had been closing in on Macron and Le Pen in recent polls, saw their scores slip slightly.

Fillon's share of the first-round vote was forecast to slip to 19.5 percent, down from 20 percent last week - the best poll rating he has seen since being hit by allegations in February of paying state funds to family members for work they did not do.

Melenchon, who had seen solid poll gains over the last month after performing well in television debates, saw his forecast score ease back to 18 percent from 18.5 percent.

A separate daily Opinionway poll showed on Monday that Macron was tied with Le Pen in the first round of voting at 22 percent, with Fillon at their heals on 21 percent followed by Melenchon on 18 percent.

Macron was seen beating Le Pen in the runoff by 64 percent to 36.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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