Marine Le Pen cements lead over far-right challenger Eric Zemmour putting her in prime position for run-off against Macron as she gains ground on him in latest French election poll
Marine Le Pen is gaining ground on Emmanuel Macron and pulling ahead of her far-right rival in the race to become French president, latest polling shows.
The National Rally leader now sits on 19 per cent support compared to Macron’s 23 per cent, a survey of first-round voting intentions taken this week found.
Meanwhile Eric Zemmour, the far-right pundit who has occasionally topped Le Pen in polling in recent weeks, has slipped back to third place with 15 per cent.
France is due to go to the polls in April next year to decide whether to grant Macron a second five-year term or hand power to one of his rivals.
Marine Le Pen is closing the gap on Emmanuel Macron as the latest French election poll shows her on 19 per cent to the President’s 23 per cent
While polls have consistently shown the centrist candidate winning both the first and second round of voting, he has been bleeding support to candidate who sit to the political right – with left-wing leaders failing to make an impact.
The latest poll, conducted by agency Elabe on behalf of BFMTV, was conducted to test the popularity of Xavier Bertrand – one of three candidates likely to lead the Les Republicains party into the vote.
LR will not select its candidate until December following its party convention, but Bertrand is seen as the clear frontrunner.
Other candidates include Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, and Valérie Pécresse, leader of the Ile-de-France region around Paris.
The poll found that Bertrand enters the running in fourth place with 13 per cent support, behind Macron, Le Pen and Zemmour.
Aligned to the centre-right, Bertrand’s presence takes support from Macron – down two percentage points – while Le Pen and Zemmour’s vote share increases by two percentage points and three percentage points respectively.
France’s election takes place in two rounds. The first includes leaders from all parties and independent candidates, with only the top two by vote share progressing.
Macron has consistently led French election polls but has been leaking support to right-wing challengers, and now appears to be in a close race with Le Pen
The second round is a run-off between two candidates with votes cast again – the winner being whoever gets the most.
Polls have been showing for years that Le Pen is likely to go through to the second round with Macron, where she will lose out in a repeat of the 2017 election.
In an attempt to steal votes from Macron, Le Pen has been repositioning herself towards the political centre – including toning down her rhetoric on migration.
That has opened up a gap on the far-right into which Zemmour has slotted.
The TV pundit, journalist and essayist is unabashedly anti-Islam and anti-immigration, telling viewers that France is being ‘colonised’ and that Muslims must be given a choice between allegiance to their religion or allegiance to the state.
He also espouses the theory of ‘Great Replacement’ – that white Christian populations in Europe are being intentionally replaced by Muslim migrants from Africa in a plot by global capitalists.
Twice convicted of hate speech, he has been sapping support from Le Pen and has actually overtaken her in a handful of polls since September.
The same polls show him being defeated in the second round of voting by a wider margin than Le Pen.
Zemmour, like Macron, has yet to officially declare his candidacy but has been giving every indication he will run – stepping away from his TV talk show and throwing campaign-style events.
Le Pen has been moving towards the political centre in an attempt to take votes from Macron, opening herself up to a challenge from the far-right in the form of Eric Zemmour