Marine Le Pen would win the first round of the next French presidential election if it were held now, a poll has found.
The Ifop poll for Le Figaro comes as about 1,000 migrants began arriving in France after President François Hollande pledged to take 24,000 over the next two years. The Times reports that the first 200 were welcomed by officials in Champagne-sur-Seine and Pontoise on the outskirts of Paris.
Around 55 per cent of the French people oppose taking any new migrants, however, and dozens of mayors throughout France have refused to house any migrants in their towns.
The mayors of the towns of Roanne and Belfort have said they will only take Christian migrants, incurring the wrath of Prime Minister Manuel Valls: “You do not make a selection on the basis of religion. The right to asylum is a universal right.”
Many French people do not agree with Valls, though. The Ifop poll puts anti-mass immigration politician Le Pen in first place with 27 per cent, with former president Nicolas Sarkozy two points behind on 25. Incumbent François Hollande would be eliminated in the first round, coming a poor third on just 19 per cent.
Le Pen is also currently running for president of the Nord-Pas de Calais region in December, with the current migrant crisis adding to her momentum. Running against her Xavier Bertrand, a politician from Nicolas Sarkozy’s party who also takes a strong stance against settling new migrants.
The region has seen the establishment of a large camp nicknamed “The Jungle” as thousands of migrants try to cross the Channel into the UK.
Le Pen said on Tuesday that most of the people coming to France were not refugees but male economic migrants. She also accused Germany of accepting them so they could be “slaves” in industry.
Former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told France-Inter radio: “Marine Le Pen may win the presidential election, judging by the polls and how public opinion is reacting today. The weakness of the president [Hollande] is creating the possibility of a victory by Madame Le Pen. Until now, that was a rather virtual threat. I think it has now become a real threat.”
François Hollande is now the most unpopular president since the creation of the Fifth Republic. His chances of winning re-election in 2017 look slim and he has pledged not to stand if unemployment has not fallen by the start of election year.
Le Pen’s main challenger could be former President Nicolas Sarkozy who is determined to stage a comeback and reclaim the presidency. If he makes it through to the second round, it is likely he could pick up most of Hollande’s socialist votes and overtake Le Pen.