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Europe

Le Pen's National Rally pulls ahead of Macron's LREM in EU voting intentions

media French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party leader Marine Le Pen delivers her comeback speech in Frejus, France, September 16, 2018. The backdrop reads "Nations will save Europe". REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

France’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party jumped ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM for the first time in a poll of voting intentions for May 2019 European Parliament elections.

An Ifop poll published on Sunday showed the centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) with 19 percent of voting intentions compared to 20 percent at the end of August, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s RN   formerly the National Front   rose to 21 percent from 17 percent previously.

Together with the seven percent score of sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and one percent each for “Frexit” parties led by former Le Pen associate Florian Philippot and Francois Asselineau, far-right parties won a combined 30 percent of voting intentions, up from 25 percent end August.

The poll asked nearly 1,000 French people on Oct 30-31 who they would vote for if the European Parliament elections were to be held the next Sunday.

The conservative Les Republicains party led by Laurent Wauquiez slipped two percentage points to 13 percent, while the far-left France Insoumise led by Jean-Luc Melenchon fell from 14 to 11 percent.

Melenchon was widely criticised and mocked after yelling at police officers during a raid of his party offices as part of an anti-corruption inquiry. [nL8N1WX36P]

In an Odoxa-Dentsu poll released mid-September, Macron and Le Pen’s parties were neck-and-neck at around 21 percent, while the conservative Les Republicains came third with 14 percent and Melenchon’s France Insoumise fourth with 12.5 percent.

In an Ifop poll in May, the LREM was seen winning 27 percent of the EU parliament vote, well ahead of the far right’s 17 percent and more than Macron’s 24 percent in the first round of France’s April 2017 presidential elections.

The European elections are shaping up to be a major battle between centrist, pro-EU parties like Macron’s LREM and far-right formations that want to stop immigration and globalisation.

The European Parliament elections determine who leads the major EU institutions, including the European Commission, the bloc’s civil service, and are also important as a bellwether of sentiment among the EU’s 500 million people.

 

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