PARIS: Former French prime minister Manuel Valls has lost his lead over leftist opponent Arnaud Montebourg ahead of the Socialist primaries, an Ifop poll, published by the weekly Journal du Dimanche, showed on Sunday. In case of a second-round vote on January 29 between Valls and Montebourg, former economy minister Montebourg was predicted to win 52 per cent of the vote, the first time he has pulled ahead of Valls in a major poll. Last month, Valls was still marginally ahead of Montebourg with 51 per cent of voting intentions in the race to become the Socialist presidential candidate. The poll also showed Valls’ lead over his leftist opponents narrowing for the first-round vote on January 22.
Valls, a law-and-order advocate on the right wing of his party, received 36 per cent of voting intentions, compared to 45 per cent in the same poll in December. Montebourg’s first-round score narrowed by one point to 24 per cent, while leftist former education minister Benoit Hamon’s score rose to 21 per cent from 14 per cent in December. Hamon, who wants to legalise cannabis and give all adults welfare payments of 600 euros ($632) a month, also saw his support doubling to 22 per cent in a Harris Interactive poll published on Wednesday. Vincent Peillon, who positions himself at the centre of the party and only entered the race last month, was predicted to win 9 per cent of the first-round votes in the Ifop poll. — Reuters