Yellow Vest voters favour Le Pen’s presidential candidacy

Three years after its creation, the movement is now rather fragmented and without a defined leader, and the survey noted that 24% of them did not vote in the first round on Sunday. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON [IAN LANGSDON/EPA]

Far-right French electoral candidate Marine Le Pen is the favourite candidate of the Yellow Vest protest movement, a study published a day after the election’s first round has found. EURACTIV France reports.

Le Pen came second in the first round of voting on 10 April, narrowly beaten by incumbent President Emmanuel Macron. She will face him in the second round, scheduled for two weeks time.

According to a study conducted by BVA published on Monday (11 April) for Ouest-France, 44% of the Yellow Vest movement voted for Le Pen in the first round. The second and third favourite candidates of the Yellow Vests were far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and far-right candidate Éric Zemmour, who obtained 28% and 8%, respectively.

The Yellow Vests movement started in October 2018 and at first aimed to protest the increase in fuel prices. They have since called for increasing the purchasing power of the middle and working classes and for Macron to resign.

Why Le Pen?

One of the explanations for Le Pen’s popularity among the Yellow Vest movement is her total opposition to the COVID pass, which she has promised to abolish if elected president.

In September 2021, 121,000 Yellow Vests protested across France, according to interior ministry figures.

In August 2021, three Yellow Vest members told FranceInfo that they were intensely fighting the introduction of the health pass to oppose a society “where individuals are sorted for health reasons,” according to Maxime Nicolle, administrator of a Yellow Vest Facebook page with 157,000 followers.

Le Pen wants EU to be 'association of free nations'

After the defeat in the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen’s right-wing Rassemblement National renewed its discourse about Europe, aiming to appeal to a wider electorate, but it is uncertain if this shift will give Le Pen a shot at winning the keys to the Elysée Palace in April

Amnesty proposal, not enough

Mélenchon, the far-left candidate who failed to make it to the second round but a close third to Le Pen’s 23.5%, announced on 20 March that he wants to grant amnesty to all Yellow Vest members currently facing prosecution.

“The People’s Union government will repair everything that can be repaired for the victims of authoritarianism. It will grant amnesty to all the convicted Yellow Vests. It will guarantee and ensure the reclassification and compensation of the victims of amputation and dismemberment whose lives have been shattered by police violence,” he said during the campaign.

In an interview with broadcaster France Inter, Le Pen firmly rejected the proposed measure.

“There are a number of people during the events of the Yellow Vests who are far-left militants who went there to break or break the police, to destroy public property. These people that they have been convicted, I’m sorry to say, I find it normal,” she said.

However, the numbers in favour of Le Pen are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Three years after its creation, the movement is now somewhat fragmented and without a defined leader. Furthermore, the survey noted that 24% of them did not vote in the first round.

Le Pen claims to be spokesperson for ‘real yellow vests’

Marine Le Pen has said that she is the mouthpiece for the “real yellow vests” for the European elections, standing up for “poor workers, admirable single mums and needy pensioners.” EURACTIV France’s media partner La Tribune reports.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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