More than four in 10 French and Germans would like to see Democratic candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton elected US president in 2008, a survey by a Canadian pollster showed on Wednesday.

The Angus Reid institute also found Clinton to be the preferred candidate of British, Italian and Canadian respondents to its poll, which asked them to choose between eight of the US politicians running for the nomination.

The New York senator, who also leads the domestic polls for her party’s nomination to run for the White House — aiming to become the first female US president ever — was most popular in Germany, with 45.5 percent support.

Her support stood at 44 percent in France, 39 percent in Canada, 35 percent in Italy and 29 percent in Britain. The 5,075 respondents were offered a choice of four Democratic and four opposition Republican candidates.

Clinton’s nearest challenger for the Democrat nomination, Senator Barack Obama, was second most popular among Canadians, Germans and the French, while Italians and Britons preferred Republican Rudolf Giuliani, the ex-mayor of New York.

But these two candidates had much smaller backing than Clinton — Obama had highest support in Canada with 13 percent, while Giuliani had his top score of 17 percent in Italy, the home country of his grandparents.

The polling institute said Clinton, wife of former president Bill Clinton, had such a high rating because she is the best-known candidate.

Other candidates, such as Democrat John Edwards, third in domestic US polls, and Republican John McCain and Mitt Romney, had less than three percent backing from those surveyed.

Half of respondents in Britain did not know which candidate they would back. This figure was lowest in Canada at just over a quarter.

Debates and campaigns are already underway in the United States, with the first party primary votes to select nominees for the presidential race due to start in early 2008.

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