Populist Le Pen Leads New French Poll

Front National chief surges ahead after calling for Trump-style economic policies in France

by Edmund Kozak | Updated 11 Jan 2017 at 12:05 PM

Right-wing populist Marine Le Pen of the Front National is now leading opinion polls ahead of France’s presidential elections in the spring.

A new poll from Ifop-Fiducial released Tuesday shows Le Pen at first place with the backing of 26.5 percent of voters, while her moderate center-right rival Francois Fillon, of Les Republicains, would receive just over 24 percent of the vote, the poll suggested.

“He is putting in place measures I have been demanding for years,” Le Pen said of Trump.

The new poll, which was conducted the first week of January, was based on a sample of 1,860 registered voters and has a margin of error of 1.3 percent.

The poll represents the first time Le Pen has led with voters since November, and coincides with a noticeable decline in popularity for Fillon, who was polling at roughly 28 percent in December.

Interestingly, Fillon’s slide in the polls comes the same week he said he was opposed to France’s exiting the Schengen Treaty and ending its participation in free movement between E.U. member states.

Fillon, however, has apparently recognized the extent of his tactical error, and on Wednesday is expected to announce his support for immigration quotas during a rally in Nice — the site of a brutal Islamic terrorist attack in July 2016.

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Le Pen, meanwhile, continues to beat the drums of nationalist populism and appears to be taking notes from Donald Trump. She has added restoring French manufacturing — specifically regarding the car industry — to her list of priorities.

“He is putting in place measures I have been demanding for years,” Le Pen said of Trump on Tuesday. “I don't mind explaining to French companies that they cannot escape tax that they should be paying in France, that they cannot go offshore without suffering the consequences ... A choice has to be made, a choice of patriotism.”

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