French incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy will beat his arch rival socialist hopeful Francois Hollande in the first round of the presidential election slated for April 22, according to a poll released in Paris on Thursday.
Sarkozy won 30 percent of the intentions of vote, outpacing Hollande whose support was unchanged at 28 percent, the CSA poll said, as the conservative UMP candidate's recent responses to a series of allegedly al-Qaida-linked shooting helped improve his image.
However, the poll still suggested that Hollande would win the second round of the election on May 6 decisive round with 54 percent of support against Sarkozy's 46 percent.
Sarkozy and Hollande suspended their election campaigns after 24-year-old suspect Mohamed Merah from Algerian origin, shot dead four people, including three children, last Monday outside a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse.
Merah had allegedly killed also three paratroopers of ethnic minorities earlier this month in the name of al-Qaeda.
French police are currently in a standoff with Merah in a Toulouse apartment where he had been holed up for 30 hours.
The police have set off sporadic blasts throughout the night and into the morning, in what the authorities described as a tactic to pressure the suspect and then capture him alive.