France: Le Pen’s National Rally Beating Macron’s Party in EU Election Polls

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, smiles as she attends a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbourg, eastern France, Monday, April 15, 2019. Background reads, a Europe of Nations. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party is polling in first place, ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, less than a month away from European Parliament elections.

In an OpinionWay and EuroTrack poll commissioned for French newspaper Les Echos published on Thursday, the right-populist National Rally, formerly the Front National, is in the lead with 24 per cent of voting intentions, up by more than one per cent from last month.

In second place is the party established by left-progressive French president Emmanuel Macron, Republic on the Move (La République en Marche/LREM) with 21 per cent — down two points from one month ago.

In a distant third is the establishment-right Republicans, at 14 per cent, with the far-left Unsubmissive France on nine per cent.

The lead candidate for the National Rally is 23-year-old Jordan Bardella, dubbed the “crown prince” of the party, who said at a recent rally that May’s European Parliament elections in France will be seen as “a referendum on Macron’s policies”.

While later speaking to supporters in Nice on Tuesday, the candidate warned, “If Macron takes the lead on May 26th, he will pursue a policy of fiscal injustice, social injustice, laxity with regard to security and immigration.”

Bardella has also expressed specific criticism of Macron for his handling of the Yellow Vest protests — which, beginning in November as a protest against rising fuel prices, have grown in five months to become a movement against Mr Macron’s left-neoliberal agenda — saying, “[Macron] refuses to listen to the people and insults them whenever he can.”

While the president’s party is suffering in the polls, so too is Mr Macron personally, with the latest Odoxa poll finding the French premier has just a 32 per cent approval rating, whilst 67 per cent disapprove.

Polls predict the National Rally will be joined by other conservative, right-populist, and anti-establishment parties in Brussels, with the European Parliament’s own official predictions showing a surge in the number of seats being taking by European populists. Matteo Salvini’s League (La Lega) party is set to be sending the largest number from Italy, reaching a new record high in Ipsos polls for the European Parliament with 36.9 per cent.

Bardella has held up Mr Salvini as a standard for taking back sovereignty on borders, saying of the League leader, “He has proven that it is possible to stop immigration, including by systematically escorting boats or cutting social benefits that are given left and right.”

The young populist modelling himself in part on Salvini should not come as a surprise, as the Italian’s League party has recently formed a populist “supergroup” for the European Parliament which includes former National Rally and a number of other right-populist parties, including Alternative for Germany (AfD), Austria’s Freedom Party, the True Finns, and the Danish People’s Party.

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