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Polls: Populist National Rally Takes Lead over Macron’s Party Ahead of EU Elections

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 25: Leader of France's National Rally (RN) Marine Le Pen during a meeting of populist far-right party leaders in Wenceslas Square on April 25, 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)
Gabriel Kuchta/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is topping the polls, ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, less than three weeks away from European Parliament elections.

An Ipsos poll released Sunday places Ms Le Pen’s populist-right party on 22 per cent, ahead of Mr Macron’s progressive La République En Marche! (LREM/Republic on the Move) which is at 21.5 per cent. In third place is the right-establishment Republicans at a distant 13.5 per cent.

Two other recent polls also put Ms Le Pen’s party in the lead: an Ifop-Fiducial survey published Friday puts National Rally on 23 per cent, LREM on 21.5 per cent; and an OpinionWay poll published Thursday puts the populists on 24 per cent followed by Macron’s party on 21 per cent.

Populist, patriotic parties are expected to make major gains in the EU-wide parliamentary elections between May 23rd and 26th.

The UK’s Brexit Party has been holding first place for a number of weeks and is maintaining a comfortable lead, the latest YouGov poll placing the Nigel Farage-founded party at 30 per cent, followed by Labour at 21 per cent, and the Tory Party at 13 per cent.

While in Italy, populist deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has found his right-wing League party topping the Index Research poll, published last week, at 32.8 per cent. The League’s anti-establishment governing coalition partner the Five Star Movement (M5S) is at 22 per cent, and the left-wing Democratic Party is in third with 20.5 per cent.

During a trip to Bulgaria on Friday to meet with her populist counterparts from the Volya party, Ms Le Pen praised Mr Salvini’s policies that brought down mass illegal migrant sea landings by 80 per cent in just one year, telling euronews, “They say up to now that they cannot control the migration problem, but he said yes we can control it and he controlled it in Italy.”

Ms Le Pen has been making the rounds in Europe, promoting the populist supergroup of parties hailing from Germany, Austria, Sweden, and others including Mr Salvini’s League party.

During a campaign rally in Brussels on Sunday, Ms Le Pen said, in comments reported by POLITICO, “As right-wing parties, we have long remained isolated in Europe.”

“Now we have a chance to change Europe from the inside,” she said. “An à la carte Europe is possible, a Europe of collaboration between nations.”

The European elections has become the battleground for the two visions of the future of the EU: one concept championed by progressive national leaders like Macron and Eurocrats like Guy Verhofstadt would see the development of the United States of Europe where nations cede more control to Brussels; the other is of the Europe of Nations, where countries cooperate, but remain autonomous and distinct, that movement being led by the likes of Le Pen, Salvini, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Ms Le Pen described these fronts during a campaign rally in Prague in late April, where she said, “Federalists, EU supporters, want the dilution of the Nations for the benefit of an oligarchy of civil servants and experts. On the other side, there are the Patriots of all countries — us!”

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