Will Kirby, Express, January 11, 2017
The National Front leader has usurped Conservative candidate Francois Fillon to take the lead according to an Ifop-Fiducial opinion poll.
Le Pen is now leading the polls for the first time after taking advantage of Fillon’s declining popularity among France’s working class voters, according to the survey carried out for French weekly newspaper Paris Match, TV channel iTele and radio station Sud-Radio.
In a series of voting scenarios, the populist leader was seen winning around 26.5 per cent of the first round vote, while Fillon is a close second with almost 25 per cent.
The presidential hopeful has promised to hold a referendum regarding France’s EU membership within six months if she wins the general election, which would mark yet another shocking victory in global politics following Brexit and Trump’s landmark victory in the US election.
However, even if Le Pen is able to win the first round vote in April, the results of the survey show her main rival Fillon appears the more likely to become the country’s next president.
Behind the two leaders is Emmanuel Macron, who received between 17 and 20 per cent of the vote in a variety of different scenarios.
Macron, who pushed for Europe to work together to fight terrorism in a speech in Berlin on Tuesday, has surged in popularity in recent weeks although he still remains a long way behind Fillon and Le Pen.
In a devastating blow, the four main contenders for the presidential candidacy for the socialist party would not even qualify for the second round of voting according to the poll results.
Former prime minister Manuel Valls stands the best chance of becoming the socialist candidate according to the survey, but the chances of another French Socialist Party candidate following outgoing president Francois Hollande in becoming the country’s next leader look increasingly slim.
Under the French election system, the two candidates who win the most votes in the first round of voting on April 23 will contest a second and decisive round on May 7.
This would be avoided if one candidate gains an overall majority in the first round vote, a scenario which appears highly unlikely given how close Le Pen and Fillon are in the latest polls.