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A voter holds ballots for candidates for French 2017 presidential election : Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader, and Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, before voting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. Picture taken April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far left candidate who came fourth in the first round of France's presidential election with nearly 20 percent of the vote, is polling core supporters on whether they will back centrist Emmanuel Macron in the second round.
Melenchon's 'France unbowed' political movement said in a statement that none of it members would vote for far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7.
It said the poll would be restricted to members registered before last Sunday's first round, and would offer three options; Choice 1. blank vote, choice 2. vote Macron, and choice 3. abstain.
Melenchon said before the first round that he would not be endorsing any candidate, and has stuck to that. The statement said the result of the poll would not amount to an endorsement.
During the campaign he was a fierce critic of both former economy minister and investment banker Macron and of National Front leader Le Pen.
"The second round pits the candidate of the extreme right against the candidate of extreme finance," the statement said.
"This is not about a voting recommendation. It is simply to know the positions of the unbowed."
The consultation started on Tuesday night and will end on May 2 at noon, with results provided in the afternoon on the same day, according to the statement.
Melenchon espouses similar policies on worker protection and anti-globalisation to those of Le Pen, and pollsters say some of his backer might choose Le Pen in the second round.
However, he is fiercely opposed to her anti-immigrant stance and to her focus on radical Islam as one of the roots of France's troubles.
"By definition, France unbowed is wedded to the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity," the statement said. As a result the vote for the candidate of the extreme right will not be represented as an option."
Polls say Macron is set to win the presidency with about 60 percent or more of the second round vote.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Andrew Callus)