Will the French Socialists once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? For the first time since the election campaign began, a poll has put Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of François Hollande in the first round (see graph). With just over a month to go until the election begins, the French President is on 28.5 per cent, with his Socialist challenger trailing on 27 per cent.
Sarkozy’s decision to court the far-right vote with his demagogic attacks on halal meat and immigration appears to have paid dividends. Support for the National Front’s Marine Le Pen has slumped to 16 per cent, her lowest poll rating since the start of the year.
Hollande, it’s important to note, still has a convicing lead in the second round (see graph) but this has been reduced by two points to nine per cent. After 6 May, the Élysée is still likely to be occupied by a Socialist for the first time since 1995. But it looks like the race will be a lot tighter than we thought.