Nicolas Sarkozy is trailing France's Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande in the latest poll of how the French intend to vote in the upcoming election.
Separately, it has been reported that four conservative European leaders, including UK prime minister David Cameron, have an informal pact to ostracize Hollande in the lead up to France's April presidential poll.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel, cited by The Independent, claimed that Cameron, along with Angela Merkel of Germany, Mario Monti of Italy and Mariano Rajoy of Spain, would shun Hollande as punishment for his pledge to renegotiate the European treaty on fiscal discipline, signed last week.
The magazine reported that Cameron refused to see Hollande in London last Wednesday, and although Merkel's office at least denied any such pact, Hollande's campaign team condemned a "concerted, conservative intervention" in the French election campaign.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal cited the Ifop poll as showing that 29 percent of potential voters would choose Hollande if elections were held now, while 25.5 percent would vote for Sarkozy.
The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen also received a slight lift — one percentage point to 18.5 percent — while centrist candidate Francois Bayrou fell by 0.5 percentage points to 12 percent, the WSJ reported.
Reuters wrote that the poll indicated Hollande would easily win the May 6 presidential election runoff.
Sarkozy had lost support among the retired and elderly and supporters of his conservative UMP party, Reuters wrote, after receiving a bounce immediately after launching his campaign officially in mid-February.
Sarkozy is battling the worst poll ratings of any French leader seeking re-election, Reuters pointed out.
But he suffered setbacks last week. Hollande has proposed taxing those earning more than 1 million euros a year at a rate of 75 percent, an idea approved of by 61 percent of voters, according to a survey released on Friday.
The election is set for late April, but if no candidate collects 50 percent of the vote during the first round, a runoff will be held in early May between the two front-runners.
In a runoff, 57 percent of voters would pick Hollande and 43 percent Sarkozy, the poll reportedly showed.