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16 avril 2007 1 16 /04 /avril /2007 13:30

Europeans support Royal for president

By John Thornhill in Paris

Published: April 15 2007 21:48 | Last updated: April 15 2007 21:48

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist party contender in the French presidential elections, has emerged as the preferred candidate of Europeans outside France, according to an FT/Harris poll.

Sixteen per cent of respondents in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK considered that Ms Royal would be the best president for France, with 7 per cent opting for Nicolas Sarkozy, the contender from the centre-right UMP party.

 

Ms Royal proved most popular in Spain and Italy, which have left-wing governments. Ms Royal has made a point of courting the support of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s socialist prime minister, who is to attend her final campaign rally in Toulouse on Thursday. The first round of voting will be held on Sunday.

Separately, 22 per cent of French respondents in the poll considered Ms Royal to be the best president just behind Mr Sarkozy, with 23 per cent.

French opinion polls published at the weekend focusing on voting intentions showed that Ms Royal might struggle to make it into the second round.

Le Parisien showed support for Ms Royal at 23 per cent, only just ahead of François Bayrou, the centrist UDF candidate, at 21 per cent. A growing number of senior Socialists are pressing for Ms Royal to consider a pact with Mr Bayrou, whom opinion polls show would have the best chance of defeating Mr Sarkozy in the second round.

Ms Royal has rejected these suggestions and yesterday called women to back her. “I need the women’s vote,” she said in Achicourt, northern France. Yet opinion polls show that women largely favour Mr Sarkozy.

The FT/Harris Interactive online poll questioned 5,526 adults in the five countries between March 28 and April 12.

Additional reporting by Peggy Hollinger in Paris

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