Front National leader Marine Le Pen has extended her lead in polling for the French Presidential elections, and is now comfortably placed to win the first round of voting.
The BVA-Salesforce poll published Thursday gave Le Pen on 27 per cent of the vote in the first round of the election, due to take place on 23 April, up 2.5 percentage points from the last time the poll was conducted in early February.
A second poll by Harris International showed similar results placing Le Pen on 25 percent, four points clear of Francois Fillon (Les Republicains) and five ahead of Emmanuel Macron, an independent who split from the Socialist party last August.
Both polls were conducted at the start of the week, before Wednesday evening’s announcement by veteran centrist Francois Bayrou that he would be dropping out of the race to lend support to Macron, a move which analysts say could give the independent candidate the edge over his rival Fillon.
Rolling poll results for the French Presidential election, first round. Ifop-Fiducial.
However, Le Pen’s lead is not expected to hold into the second round of voting on 7 May, in which the top two candidates go head to head. The BVA poll showed Macron beating Le Pen comfortably by 61 per cent to her 39 per cent. She is expected to fair marginally against Fillon, with the vote splitting out 55 per cent to 45 per cent in his favour.
The Harris Interactive poll showed similar results.
If so, Le Pen would share the fate of her father, Jean-Marie, who made it to the second round of the 2002 Presidential elections only for his second round rival Jacques Chirac to win by a landslide 82.2 per cent. However, Marine has done much to modernise the image of her party, running on a popular platform of offering a referendum on membership of the European Union and abolishing same-sex marriage, among other pledges.