MS Risk Blog

French Presidential Election: Latest Poll Shows Melenchon Surging

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A new released on 11 April has indicated that far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is closing the gap with the frontrunners in France’s presidential election race, building on his recent surge as sniping between the top contenders gathered pace.

With just 12 days to go until the first round of voting, to be held on 23 April, polls are tightening and possibility for May’s second, deciding round, which for weeks have been tipped between far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, appear to be opening up.

Mr Melenchon’s support has increased by seven percentage points to 19 percent in a monthly Ifop-Fiducial poll for Paris Match and Sud Radio, effectively putting him in third place ahead of conservative candidate Francois Fillon. He is also targeting Mr Macron’s voters, however this time those to the left or centre-left. The poll shows that Mr Melenchon and Mr Fillon, on 19 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively, still lag behind Ms Le Pen, on 24 percent, and Mr Macron, on 23 percent, however it appears that the two frontrunners are losing steam. Mr Macron is widely expected to win against Ms Le Pen if both progress to the second round of voting gone 7 May. The latest poll also showed that some 32 percent of voters could abstain in the first round.

Mr Melenchon’s rise in the polls is the latest episode in an election campaign that has been full of surprises. It has also affected financial markets and prompted a warning by the head of businesses lobby group Medef Piere Gattaz. Spearing on Europe 1 radio on Tuesday, Gattaz warned against a possible Melenchon-Le Pen second round, calling both Mr Melenchon’s and Ms Le Pen’s programmes “an absolute catastrophe” for France. While Mr Melenchon is on the polar opposite of the political spectrum from Ms Le Pen, in particular on immigration, they both distrust the European Union (EU), and want to renegotiate France’s role in it and hold a referendum on EU membership.

Meanwhile in recent weeks, the presidential campaign has become increasingly bitter. In recent days, Mr Fillon has stepped up his attacks against Mr Macron, with whom he is in competition for centre-right voters, calling him a liar. Mr Macron responded on Sud Radio, “Mr Fillon is a man of little worth.” Mr Fillon has been under fire since January over allegations that his wife was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for minimal work as a parliamentary assistant for several years. The couple are currently under formal investigation by magistrates.