Populist Marine Le Pen Takes Lead in Polls as French Elections Approach


A new poll finds that populist leader Marine Le Pen now leads France’s presidential race while the incumbent Socialist Party has plummeted in popularity.

Thursday’s poll, conducted by CEVIPOF (Centre de Recherche de Sciences Po) in partnership with the French daily Le Monde, shows Le Pen of the populist National Front (FN) with between 25 and 26 percent of the vote, while the Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg (PS) received only 7% of voting intentions.

The Socialists will be holding an open presidential primary on January 22, followed by a runoff election a week later to choose between the two candidates with the most votes. The presidential election itself will take place on April 23, with the possibility of a run-off election in May should no candidate obtain an absolute majority.

In second place behind Marine Le Pen is conservative François Fillon, who received between 23 and 25 percent of voter intentions. Through December Fillon enjoyed a comfortable lead in polls over Le Pen, but now their places have been reversed, Le Monde reported.

Meanwhile, independent Emmanuel Macron (EM) received between 17 percent and 20 percent of voter intentions and Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Party (LFI) was in fourth place, presently showing 14-15 percent of the vote.

Last December sitting socialist president François Hollande announced that he would not seek reelection, after a series of record-low approval ratings suggested that the socialists would have little chance of winning.

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