22:42 GMT27 February 2020
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    Far-right National Front (FN) party leader Marine Le Pen is likely to beat independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round of French presidential elections in nine out of 12 regions of metropolitan France in case The Republicans' candidate Francois Fillon drops out due to a fraud scandal, a poll revealed on Thursday.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — According to the poll, carried out by Ipsos Sopra-Steria and Cevifop for France 3 television channel, Macron would lead only in three regions — Brittany, Ile-de-France and Pays de la Loire. Metropolitan France is divided into 13 regions, but the survey excluded Corsica.

    The survey presented two voting scenarios with and without Francois Bayrou, the leader of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) party, as a presidential candidate. However, Le Pen is expected to lead in either case, the poll shows.

    In case if Bayrou stands as a candidate, Le Pen is expected to get the highest number of votes in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur with 36 percent, Hauts-de-France with 34 percent and Grand Est and 32 percent of votes.

    The survey was carried out on February 7-12 across 12 regions of Metropolitan France.

    Fillon used to be considered the leader in the presidential race, but lost popularity after a scandal that erupted in late January around his wife’s allegedly fake employment. Fillon has since been thought unlikely to enter the second round, however, the gap between him and Macron in the first round is rather narrow.

    The first round of the French presidential elections is scheduled for April 23, with the run-off set for May 7.

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