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Scandal-hit French presidential candidate François Fillon has taken a hit in the latest polls which suggest the far-right Marine Le Pen will still emerge as the outright winner in the first round vote in April.
A poll of nearly 16,000 voters carried out by Cevipof for France’s Le Monde put Mr Fillon in third place at 18.5 per cent – a drop of 6.5 points – in a month behind the centrist Emmanuel Macron (23 per cent) and Ms Le Pen (26 per cent).
A former conservative prime minister and erstwhile favourite for the job, Mr Fillon has been engulfed by a scandal over payments made to his wife and children for work they may not have done as his assistants.
Earlier today, France’s financial prosecutor vowed to push on with its investigation into the “fake jobs” scandal which was revealed by a satirical French newspaper this month.
Despite evidence of falling support for Mr Fillon, Ms Le Pen does not seem to have directly benefited from the right-wing candidate’s sliding support over the last month. Her 26 per cent rating remained unchanged, according to Cevipof.
Benoit Hamon, the candidate picked by the Socialist party earlier this month, was boosted by 7.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent, while Mr Macron edged up 2 points in the poll of first round voting intentions.
The survey did not quiz voters on who they would plump for in a second roll vote, with other polls suggesting Ms Le Pen is on course to lose regardless of her opponent.
The leader of the Front National has promised to hold a referendum on France’s eurozone membership and redenominate around €1.7tn of France’s oustanding €2tn debt in a new currency.
The poll also revealed a number of voters remained undecided in what has already proven to be an unpredictable election race. Cevipof said that 69 per cent of those surveyed said they knew how they would vote in the first round, compared to 76 per cent at the same point during the 2012 presidential vote.
Read More: Fillon’s fall from grace