June 21, 2016 / 7:11 PM / 3 years ago

Poll shows France's Hollande winning primaries, but not presidential election

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande is seen winning primaries run by his Socialist Party and other left-wing groups, but is unlikely to win the 2017 presidential election, a poll showed on Monday.

French President Francois Hollande attends a military ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The survey by Elabe pollsters was the first since his Socialist Party (PS) on Saturday decided to go ahead with the primaries in an effort to boost support for Hollande, who is the most unpopular French president in polling history.

The primaries - votes to narrow the field of candidates before an election - would be limited to the PS and a couple of smaller left-wing parties.

The outgoing French president has, for decades, represented his or her party in the next election.

But Hollande, dogged by high unemployment and who has faced weeks of protests over plans to reform labour laws, has sunk so low in opinion polls that questions have been raised about his candidacy, prompting the PS to decide to hold primaries in January.

A large majority of PS voters want him to stand in the primaries and about 46 percent want him to win them, putting him far ahead of other possible candidates. That is also the case for 32 percent of left-wing voters overall, the poll showed.

But when looking at all voters independently of their political stripes, only 13 percent want Hollande to win the primaries and nearly 60 percent say he should not stand.

“Hollande has a lead (among left-wing voters) but it’s not enough ... there is still a massive and intense opposition to him among public opinion overall,” Elabe’s Yves-Marie Cann said.

Hollande has said he will say by the end of the year whether he will run in the election.

The Green party has said it will go it alone in the presidential election and left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon will be a candidate, further weakening Hollande’s re-election chances.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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