December 9, 2015 / 7:25 PM / 2 years ago

National Front seen losing two contested regions in French election runoffs

A supporter wears a cap with pictures of Marine Le Pen (R) and Marion Marechal-Le Pen (C), French National Front political party candidates for the second round of the regional elections in Marseille, France, December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s far-right National Front will not garner enough votes in election runoffs to win two key regions where it had come out on top in a first round of voting, a poll showed on Wednesday.

France will hold the runoffs on Sunday. Marine Le Pen’s anti-Europe, anti-immigrant party scored record gains in the first round, driven by fears over the Islamic State attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last month.

In the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, Le Pen would win 47 percent of the vote while former minister Xavier Bertrand with the conservative Republicains would get 53 percent, the TNS Sofres-OnePoint poll showed.

In the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d‘Azur region, Le Pen’s niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen would get 46 percent against 54 percent for Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of the Riviera city of Nice.

The National Front’s gains in the first round came largely at the expense of the ruling Socialists, who have called on their candidates to pull out of the elections in the two regions as well as an eastern region to increase the chances of the National Front losing.

The poll found that 77 percent of left-wing voters in the two regions planned on voting for the conservatives and only 14 percent expected to abstain from voting.

Marine Le Pen played down the poll, saying that she did not expect Socialist and other left-wing voters would be able to stomach the idea of voting for the conservatives of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“There will be a lot of people of the left will abstain from voting because a lot of leftists feel they have been betrayed,” she said during a debate with Bertrand on RTL radio.

Sunday’s vote gives would-be candidates for the next presidential election in 2017 one of their last opportunities to gauge their chances.

The poll for newspaper Le Figaro and television channel LCI was conducted online Dec. 7-8 with 803 respondents in both regions.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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