The leader of France’s anti-immigration, anti-EU Front National would win the first round of a French presidential election if it were held today, a new poll reveals.
The IFOP poll for political magazine Marianne shows that Marine Le Pen would beat all candidates from the two mainstream parties, including incumbent president François Hollande, with 26 percent of the vote.
Despite his ongoing legal problems, former president Nicolas Sarkozy would still run Le Pen a very close second, with 25 percent of the vote, seeing him through to a second round run-off against the Front National leader.
Hollande lingers in third place on just 17 percent, along with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is seen as his potential successor.
Le Pen’s Front National won May’s European Elections in France, winning 25 percent of the vote and causing a huge political upset at home and around Europe.
The next presidential election is still three years away, however, which may yet give the Socialists and opposition conservative UMP time to rebuild some support.
Le Pen’s father, Jean Marie, came second in France’s 2002 presidential election, shocking the establishment by beating the Socialist candidate into third place in the first round. He eventually lost heavily to Jacques Chirac in the second round, however.
Mr Len Pen remains a controversial figure, having previously been convicted of racism and anti-Semitism, but Marine has made a determined effort to “modernise” the party since taking over from her father.
Polls consistently show that François Hollande is the most unpopular French leader in modern history, with an approval rating well below 20 percent.