Le Pen is the only French presidential candidate guaranteed a place in final round, expert says
Political scientist Frederic Dabi branded the Front National leader a "serious candidate" who will easily make it through the first round of voting.
Mr Dabi said: “Mrs Le Pen is a serious candidate. She has a fervent, and incredibly dedicated, core of supporters that will help her breeze through the first round of voting.
“More than 85 per cent of far-right voters will be voting for the Front National."
In recent weeks, the self-proclaimed nationalist and Donald Trump admirer has taken a sizeable lead over her nearest right-wing rival, François Fillon, defying the odds and silencing her harshest critics.
According to an Opinionway poll published on Monday, Mrs Le Pen would come first in the first round of voting in April with 26 per cent of votes, while Mr Fillon would garner 21 per cent of votes.
Political scientist Frederic Dabi branded the Front National leader a serious candidate
But with 22 per cent of votes, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister under Socialist president François Hollande, is close on Mrs Le Pen’s heels.
More than 85 per cent of far-right voters will be voting for the Front National
Mrs Le Pen has also worked hard to soften her party’s radical image in a bid to woo undecided right-wing voters.
An Odexa poll published on Tuesday shows that 25 per cent of French people think that the far-right chief is a “likeable figure”.
Mr Dabi said Mr Fillon has gone from being a “firm favourite to an outsider" and his recent troubles – the conservative candidate has been accused of paying his wife more than half a million euros for a ‘bogus’ job as a parliamentary assistant – have given Mrs Le Pen a “boost”.
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Scandal surrounding Francois Fillon's wife have given Le Pen a boost Candidates for the 2017 French Presidential Election Mon, January 30, 2017
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He said: “Only 50 per cent of those who voted for former right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 said that they would vote for Mr Fillon in 2017. And 20 per cent said that they would be voting for Mrs Le Pen, which is crazy. It also shows how badly the ‘fake job’ scandal has hurt Mr Fillon’s campaign.”
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron
Newcomer Mr Macron, for his part, has been riding on a wave of popularity, Mr Dabi explained, but lacks a “solid support base”.
But, unlike Mrs Le Pen, the former investment banker is “not guaranteed” a place in the election run-off next May, he added.
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