Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally has overtaken French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche for the first time ahead of the next year’s EU Parliament elections. The latest poll numbers place France’s ruling centrist En Marche party at 19 percent, and the newly constituted National Rally — formerly the Front National — at 20 percent.

Together with other smaller parties, France’s nationalist bloc now has a combined support of 30 percent, a nine-percentage-point edge over President Macron’s En Marche, polling agency Ifop projects.

France’s ruling party’s plummeting poll numbers are linked to President Macron’s own dismal approval rating. Last week’s YouGov poll showed his popularity dropping to its lowest level since he took office eighteen months ago, with only 21 percent of the French voters supporting him. A series of high-profile scandals surrounding the presidency, along with high youth unemployment and rising cost of living have fueled popular discontent against the Macron administration.

French broadcaster EuroNews reported the latest polling results:

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) has overtaken French president Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! (LREM) party in an independent poll.

Polling agency Ifop asked 1,000 people how they would vote if the EU elections were held today.

It showed the RN rising from 17% at the end of August to 21% now, moving ahead of the LREM, on 20%, for the first time.

The RN’s 21%, together with the 7% of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s Debout La France (Stand up France) party and 1% each for Florian Philippot’s Les Patriotes and François Asselineau’s pro-“Frexit” Popular Republican Union gave 30% to far-right parties combined.

Le Pen’s surge in polls comes weeks after her National Rally formed a “Freedom Front” electoral alliance with Italy’s ruling Lega party. Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has also pledged his support to Le Pen’s anti-EU alliance.

In the current EU parliament, of the 751 seats, Le Pen-led parliamentary group the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENP) has close to 30 members. The combined strength of right-wing parties critical of Brussels is estimated around 200 parliamentarians.

So far, the European political landscape has been dominated by pro-establishment conservatives — spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc — or the equally pro-EU Socialist parties. This election cycle, the EU ruling elite face stiff electoral challenge from anti-establishment parties from the right and left. Recent elections have seen the emergence of nationalist parties across the continent, with Germany’s AfD, Austria’s Freedom Party and Italy’s Lega managing to pull large number of voters away from the mainstream parties.

Video: Le Pen joins hands with Italy’s Salvini ahead of EU elections (October 208)

[Cover image via YouTube]


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