Eurosceptic rebel Jean-Luc Mélenchon has seen a sudden surge in support
Scandal-hit Francois Fillon is also making a surprise resurgence in the polls as campaigning reaches its last week.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron are clinging on to their position as front-runners in France’s topsy-turvy presidential race, but their comfortable lead could be undermined by the sudden surge in support for anti-establishment rebel Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the recent resurgence in polls of scandal-hit François Fillon.
In an Ifop-Fiducial poll for Paris Match, Cnews and Sud Radio, published on Thursday, Mrs Le Pen, the leader of the fiercely anti-Europe Front National party, was seen garnering 23.5 per cent of the first-round vote, whilst independent centrist Mr Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, would garner 22.5 per cent.
Hot on the frontrunners’ heels with 19 per cent of first-round votes each are Mr Fillon, a hardline conservative who has promised to enact a string of radical economic reforms, and Mr Mélenchon, a Communist-backed candidate who wants France to pull out of its EU treaties.
Francois Fillon has also made a surprise resurgence in the polls
Although the poll gives Mrs Le Pen a clear lead in the first round of voting on April 23, it shows her losing the final round runoff on May 7 to Mr Macron, who would win 58.5 per cent of the vote to her 41.5 per cent.
Emotions are running high, and the polls show that voters are angry
The results chimed with those of another poll by Harris Interactive-Indeed published on Thursday, which also showed Mrs Le Pen and Mr Macron qualifying for the May runoff round: the anti-Brussels leader would garner 22 per cent of the vote and her centrist rival 24 per cent.
But the poll also showed the two runner-ups closing the gap with their opponents: Mr Fillon is expected to garner 20 per cent of the vote and Mr Mélenchon 19 per cent.
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Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are clinging to their positions as front-runners
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Mr Macron is, however, still expected to beat Mrs Le Pen with 67 per cent of the final-round vote to her 33 per cent.
Mr Mélenchon’s momentum and Mr Macron’s stagnation was confirmed by a third poll by Elabe on Thursday which showed president François Hollande’s former protégé Mr Macron garner 23.5 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting and the far-left veteran 18.5 per cent.
Mrs Le Pen is still expected to breeze through to the final round of voting with 22 per cent of the vote, closely followed by Mr Fillon, who is breathing down her neck with 20 per cent of first-round votes.
The Elabe poll also showed Mrs Le Pen and Mr Fillon have the most loyal support base: 89 per cent of Le Pen voters said they were sure of their choice, as did 71 per cent of Fillon voters.
In an Ifop-Fiducial poll, Mrs Le Pen was seen garnering 23.5 per cent of the first-round vote
Only 68 per cent of centrist voters said that they would be voting for Mr Macron, although the poll showed him winning the decisive final round with 65 per cent of the vote.
Mr Fillon, a former presidential favourite whose legal woes have derailed his campaign and jeopardised his chances of winning the presidency, said on Thursday he did not think two eurosceptic candidates – Mrs Le Pen and Mr Mélenchon – would make it through to the final round of voting in May.
Mr Fillon, who denies hiring his wife Penelope for a bogus job at the expense of the taxpayer, told the French news channel BFM TV: “I don’t believe in polls. I don’t believe for one moment that 50 to 60 per cent of French voters are either revolutionaries, communists or far-right sympathisers.
“Emotions are running high, and the polls show that voters are angry."