Shock for Emmanuel Macron as new poll predicts Marine Le Pen could sneak a surprise victory in French election
- Mr Macron’s facing a low turnout, with up to third of voters set to snub the ballot
- He has been barely campaigning in recent weeks in order to focus on Ukraine
- The president has aided the momentum of far-Right firebrand Marine Le Pen
- One poll suggested Miss Le Pen would sneak victory with 50.5% to 49.5%
Emmanuel Macron was last night facing a battle to convince French voters to back him in the first round of the presidential election this weekend.
Mr Macron is facing a historic low turnout, with up to a third of voters set to snub the ballot, after barely campaigning in recent weeks in order to focus on Ukraine.
But by ignoring the French electorate – he had blamed ‘diary constraints’ for skipping a national TV debate earlier this week – the president has aided the momentum of far-Right firebrand Marine Le Pen.
On the campaign trail: Emmanuel Macron, pictured, in the town of Spezet
Momentum: Marine Le Pen, pictured
Despite a push to rebrand herself, Marine Le Pen returned to familiar themes on the election trail last night by pledging to fine Muslims who wear headscarves in public.
She held a campaign rally in the southern stronghold of Perpignan where her National Rally party runs the local council.
Speaking to RTL radio beforehand, Miss Le Pen explained her pledge to ban the headscarf in all public spaces would be enforced by police in the same way as seatbelt-wearing in cars.
Miss Le Pen said she will use referendums to avoid challenges to proposed laws on the basis they are discriminatory and an infringement on personal freedoms.
Miss Le Pen has clawed back her initial deficit from the start of the ace to almost erase the popularity gap between her and Mr Macron by focusing on the cost of living crisis amid rising energy prices.
And last night one opinion poll suggested Miss Le Pen would sneak a surprising victory by 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent.
Her numbers rallied thanks to policies, including making workers under 30 exempt from income tax, which have hit home as families struggle to pay their bills.
The National Rally candidate, beaten by Mr Macron in 2017, has made attempts to soften her political image – efforts which have been helped by the emergence of an even more radical far-Right candidate: ex-TV pundit Eric Zemmour.
One source inside Mr Macron’s Republic On The March party admitted the president’s closest aides are ‘panicking’ after the poll results.
Mr Macron’s campaign team has hit back in recent days, painting Miss Le Pen as a Moscow stooge over alleged Russian finance links and her support for the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
There is a great deal of apathy amongst the electorate, convinced Mr Macron is assured of victory.
French political analyst Gerard Grunberg said ‘there’s a risk of a drop in turnout’ in part due to the ‘forgone conclusion’ of a Macron win at the end the month.
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