Marine Le Pen is increasingly turning the upcoming French Presidential election into a battle over the EU. Radical Jean-Luc Mélenchon is now doing the same for the left and it is paying dividends.
According to an April 13th poll, all that separates Le Pen and Mélenchon from meeting each other in the second round is the establishment figure, Emmanuel Macron.
As a pro-EU lover of big-business Macron is swimming against the tide of public opinion and his polling shows it. He has last lost two points since an earlier poll on 7 April. Meanwhile Mélenchon, who like Macron used to be a member of France’s Socialist Party, has seen his popularity rise by 1.5 points to 20%, just two behind Le Pen. Impressive, given how crowded the field of left-wing candidates is. Le Pen herself has been attracting left-wing voters for years.
Mélenchon now lies in third, with Macron in his sights for the coveted second spot – only two candidates make it to the final round in France’s two-round electoral system.
As we enter home stretch for the all-important first round of voting, all the pressure is on the inexperienced Macron to hold onto his flagging support. Now that Mélenchon has established himself as the man to beat on the left and with centrist candidate François Fillon’s reputation annihilated, he will be the number one beneficiary of defectors from the Macron camp.
Le Pen vs. Melenchon as a second round contest would be a mighty blow to the EU and send shockwaves across establishment politics in the continent.