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Poll: Former French PM Valls' Lead in Socialist Primaries Narrows

FILE - Outgoing Prime Minister Manuel Valls looks on after the hand over ceremony in Paris, Dec.6, 2016.

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls' lead over his opponents in upcoming Socialist primaries has narrowed, an Ifop poll published by the weekly Journal du Dimanche showed on Sunday.

Valls, who is on the right wing of his party, was predicted to win 36 percent of the first-round vote on January 22, compared to 45 percent in the same poll in December.

The scores of his main leftist challenger, Arnaud Montebourg, eased by one point to 24 percent of voting intentions, but the score of Benoit Hamon, another leftist, rose to 21 percent from 14 in December.

Vincent Peillon, who positions himself at the center of the party and only entered the race last month, was seen as winning 9 percent of the first-round votes.

In case of a second-round vote between Valls and Montebourg on Jan. 29, Montebourg was seen as winning 52 percent of the votes. Last month, Valls was marginally ahead of Montebourg with 51 percent of voting intentions.

Other recent polls have shown that no Socialist candidate will make it through to the second round of French presidential elections in May, with conservative candidate Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen most likely to face off against one another.