March 31, 2017 / 6:48 PM / 3 years ago

Leftist Melenchon just behind Fillon as Macron still leads polls ahead of French election

PARIS (Reuters) - Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is one percentage point off former frontrunner Francois Fillon in polls ahead of the first-round vote, a poll showed on Friday, suggesting the conservatives risk being relegated to fourth place on April 23.

The Odoxa survey of more than 1,000 people carried out on March 29 and 30 sees centrist Emmanuel Macron winning 26 percent of the vote ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen on 25 percent, with Fillon on 17 percent but closely trailed by Melenchon on 16 percent.

While Macron was predicted to go on to beat Le Pen comfortably in the second-round run-off with 59 percent of the vote against 41 percent for Le Pen, the former economy minister has lost 5 percentage points to his rival since the equivalent survey on March 19.

However, the poll is the first to suggest a dynamic in which France’s two-party system that has been in place for 30 years alternating between the Conservatives and the Socialist party could be swept aside.

According to the survey, hardline left-wing Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, who has seen his party implode over the last week, is now down to 8 percent of voting intentions in fifth place.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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