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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
French right 'lead election poll'
President Jacques Chirac with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin at the Elysee Palace
President Chirac is to be sworn in for a second term
France's centre-right led by recently re-elected President Jacques Chirac could win a bigger share of votes in parliamentary elections than the left, according to a new poll.

The Ipsos poll suggested the centre-right would get 41% in the first round on 9 June, with 39% for the left, while Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front is forecast to win 12% of votes.

First round voting intentions
41% to centre-right
39% to left
12% to far-right
In the second round on 16 June, the poll predicted Mr Chirac's centre-right would clinch 53%, and the left 47% in a two-way race.

Analysts have said that a strong National Front showing in the first round could split the right's vote, handing more seats to the left.

Second round voting intentions
53% to centre-right
47% to left

But some uncertainties remain over the vote, as 41% of those polled said they might still change their mind.

Another poll on the night of Mr Chirac's victory forecast the centre-right would win a majority in parliament next month.

If that were to happen, it would rule out another spell of awkward "cohabitation" which plagued Mr Chirac's previous term in office alongside Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Some 58% of respondents in Thursday's poll said they did not favour a repeat of the power-sharing arrangement.

Swearing-in ceremony

Mr Chirac is to be sworn in this afternoon for his second term at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

It is expected to be a small-scale ceremony, which includes the proclamation of the official results of the presidential poll of 5 May.

Mr Chirac is due to make a speech at the end of the ceremony, to be followed by a 21-gun salute.

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