Madeline Grant, Newsweek, November 5, 2014
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s nationalist and socially conservative Le Front National, is twice as popular as president François Hollande among the French electorate, according to a recent poll.
Only 14% of people surveyed by Ifop, a leading market research company, said that they would vote for Hollande if the presidential elections were held this week, compared to 29% for Le Pen. 26% of respondents said they would vote for former president Nicolas Sarkozy if he were to be selected as the candidate for the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party. Sarkozy announced his intention to challenge Hollande for the presidency in the 2017 election in September.
Marine Le Pen and her party have continued to surge in popularity, amidst growing dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. Yesterday’s results constitute an increase in support of 10 points since 2012. In May, Le Front National came out on top in the country’s European election, with 25 per cent of the vote.
The Ifop poll places Le Pen slightly ahead of her nearest rival, Alain Juppé, of the centre-right UMP party. 28% said that they would vote for Juppé, if he, rather than Sarkozy, were the UMP candidate, compared to Le Pen’s 30%. Juppé’s popularity marks a surprising comeback for the former prime minister who was convicted of corruption in 2004.
The results show that, under current popularity ratings, Hollande would be unable to even qualify for the second round of presidential elections, as he comes in behind fellow Socialist Party presidential hopefuls Arnaud Montebourg and Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister.
Dr Emmanuel Martin, an economist and director of the Institute for Economic Studies Europe, a leading think-tank based in Paris, attributes the rise of Le Pen and her party to “a range of converging causes”, stemming from France’s economic crisis and popular dissatisfaction with mainstream parties.
On top of this, added Martin: “Le Pen has done an excellent job of removing the stigma attached to her party. She’s successfully shaken off the image of her father, has tried to remove the racist elements from her party . . . and now repeatedly invokes popular republican values. She’s even managed to attract large numbers of younger people, often on university campuses.”
“She will make it through to the second round of the Presidential elections, without a doubt,” Martin concluded.