Newly-elected Socialist party candidate François Hollande will be cheered by two new polls that predict a clear victory over Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections.

"/> Newly-elected Socialist party candidate François Hollande will be cheered by two new polls that predict a clear victory over Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Socialists ride high in new poll

Newly-elected Socialist party candidate François Hollande will be cheered by two new polls that predict a clear victory over Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections.

Socialists ride high in new poll

A survey by polling organization Ifop for Paris-Match, published on Tuesday, said that 59 percent of people hope to see the left win in the elections planned for April and May 2012.

With six months to go until the first round of voting on April 22nd, the poll shows the Socialists are in a much stronger position than they were at the same point before the last election in 2007.

“In October 2006, six months before the presidential election when Nicolas Sarkozy beat Ségolène Royal, the number hoping for a victory of the left (49 percent) was much lower than today,” said Ifop in a statement.

In the French system, voters have a wide choice of candidates (12 in 2007) in a first round of voting. The two leading candidates then go to a second round run-off two weeks later. Voting will take place on April 22nd and May 6th 2012.

A separate poll by CSA for newspaper 20 Minutes on Wednesday gave François Hollande a second round score of 62 percent against Nicolas Sarkozy on 38 percent. 

“Since we started these polls in January, we’ve never seen a Socialist candidate with such a high score,” said Jérôme Sainte-Marie of CSA.

President Sarkozy is yet to announce he will stand in the election. The 20 Minutes poll found that 39 percent of his UMP party supporters would prefer him to be the party’s candidate over his potential rivals, prime minister François Fillon (27 percent) and foreign minister Alain Juppé (25 percent).

Other candidates who have already declared they will run include Marine Le Pen of the Front National, Eva Joly for the Greens, Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the left-wing Front de Gauche and Philippe Poutou for the anti-capitalist party.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.