Macron loses out in polls as Le Pen surges forward

French far-right political party National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen speaks with the journalists in front the statue of Joan of Arc during the party's traditional May Day in Cannes, southern France, 01 May 2018. [EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER]

France’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party has overtaken President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM in the latest poll of voting intentions ahead of the 2019 European Elections.

The poll, taken out by the Institut français d’opinion publique (IFOP), was published on Sunday (4 November), and showed that Macron’s centrist party Republic on the Move (LREM) had fallen to 19%, while Marine Le Pen’s RN — formerly the National Front — rose to 21%.

Sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan had scored 7%, while the two ‘Frexit’ parties, each who campaign for a withdrawal from the European Union and led by Le Pen associates Florian Philippot and Francois Asselineau, won 1% each.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has warned Europe of a return to the 1930s because of the spread of a nationalist “leprosy” across the continent, in an interview published Thursday (1 November).

There were approximately 1,000 participants in the poll, and they were asked about their voting intentions if the European Parliament elections were to be held imminently.

In an earlier poll released in September, the results had Macron and Le Pen tied for popularity at around 21% each, with the conservative Les Republicains in third with 14%, and Melenchon’s France Insoumise fourth with 12.5%.

This time, however, the far-left France Insoumise led by Jean-Luc Melenchon fell to 11%, after he was widely condemned for his behaviour towards police officers during a raid of his party offices.

Sunday’s poll shows results incongruous with the previous IFOP poll conducted in May, in which LREM was on top with 27% of this vote, while the far-right parties walked away with just 17%.

Many expect the European elections next year to be a fierce contest between pro-EU factions, such as Macron’s LREM and far-right parties that take a hard stance against immigration while also pursuing a nationally-focussed political agenda.

Italy and France far-right leaders slam Brussels 'bunker'

Italy and France’s far-right leaders launched their European Parliament election campaign on Monday (8 October) with an attack on the “Brussels bunker” they hope to enter en masse after the May vote.

The elections will determine who has a seat at the table across the EU’s institutions, with the leader of the largest party in the European Parliament being given the golden role of the president of the European commission, under the Spitzenkandidat process.

Macron has ambitions to make a statement as part of the elections next year, but so far the signs aren’t in his favour. In a YouGov poll published last week, his popularity fell to its lowest level since French presidential election of 2017.

He has also faced setbacks after the brusque departure of two high-profile ministers, while stubbornly high unemployment, high taxes and rising fuel prices add to a general feeling of discontent amongst the French people.

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