A recent poll of French voters suggests Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally Party, has been growing in popularity since the 2017 elections. If France’s 2022 presidential elections were held now, Ms Le Pen would beat President Emmanuel Macron and all the other rivals in the first round. However, in a subsequent runoff of the top two candidates, Mr Macron would still win, as he did in 2017.
In the poll of 1,805 French voters published Sunday in Le Journal du Dimanche, Ms Le Pen received between 24 percent to 27 percent of the vote, depending on who she would theoretically face.
Mr Macron, the runner-up, had 23 percent to 26 percent.
In a recent report, though, the head of London-based think-tank Euro Intelligence Wolfgang Munch, claimed Ms Le Pen might not be the one Mr Macron needs to worry about.
He wrote: “The pandemic and its economic and social implications could well last for another year, tilting right into the election campaign. This is a long time, and offers many opportunities to shake things up.”
“One story to watch out for is the confrontation between Marine Le Pen and her niece Marion Maréchal.
“Officially, Ms Maréchal is no longer in politics, and yet she is one of the most effective political players in France.
“She left her aunt’s Rassemblement National in 2017 and has since developed a vision to assemble the right over identity politics and economic liberalism, with the creation of a college and a think tank.
“She is also coming out more forcefully in the press, criticising her former party over its left direction. “
It is not yet Ms Maréchal’s time to emerge as an election candidate, Mr Wolfgang noted, and she herself excluded this possibility for 2022.
He continued: “The right is not organised enough and, for personal reasons, she would not want to run against her aunt, according to Louis Hausalter who wrote a book about Ms Maréchal’s political ambitions.”
However, Mr Wolfang added: “The Rassemblement National’s recent move to purge itself of all members linked to Ms Maréchal may change the parameters of this relationship.
“Those who work with Maréchal or support her discovered they are no longer welcome in the party when they tried to renew their membership, Marianne reports.
“Throwing down the gauntlet like this could push Ms Maréchal into the ring. Will she react and, if so, how? Creating her own movement will take time, but in a way she is already doing it. For now, she may use media interventions effectively, and this could become a problem for the Rassemblement National.
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“Ms Maréchal is somewhat of a darling of the right, and voters may be tempted to turn away from Le Pen.
“The Rassemblement National’s purge may have solved some internal conflicts, but it poses new challenges down the road if Maréchal decides to take up the battle.”
Last month, Ms Maréchal argued her aunt will not be able to win the elections “without a coalition” and “without being more open” towards the centre-right Les Républicains party.
Her comments exposed a significant problem for Ms Le Pen, as in the two-round French presidential system, winning without allies is extremely difficult.