Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is enjoying a surprise rise in the polls to join Front National leader Marine Le Pen as a feasible anti-EU choice in the contest.
After weeks of polls predicting a showdown between Mrs Le Pen and Europhile socialist Emmanual Macron, Mr Melenchon has had a sudden surge in the polls after performing well in the television debates in the run up to the unpredictable election.
Both Melenchon and Le Pen want France to leave the European Union
Polls say Le Pen will make it into the second round of voting
Imagine a second round Melenchon v Le Pen! An existential crisis for France-and the EU
Journalist, Andrew Neil
The Communist-backed candidate wants to pull France out of the EU as well as the military alliance NATO.
If the more left-wing supporters from candidate Emmanuel Macron switch to Mr Melenchon, a Le Pen-Melenchon second round is increasingly likely.
The French newspaper Liberation declared Melenchon as the “most convincing” French presidential candidate in an opinion poll.
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The EU may have reason to be nervous if both these candidate make it into the second round of voting
Journalist Andrew Neil tweeted: “Imagine a second round Melenchon v Le Pen! An existential crisis for France-and the EU!”
Polls say Mrs Le Pen, who wants to hold a referendum on France’s membership in the European Union as well as quit the euro, is almost guaranteed to make the second round of the election.
France is one of the core members of the bloc and a Frexit would trigger another EU crisis.
Macron is also one of the frontrunners in the election campaign
Emmanuel Macron, leader of the En Marche! movement, said: “Jean-Luc Melenchon – he’s a very nice guy but his promises are impossible to deliver and his program would be a disaster for France.
“He’s for the destruction of the European Union, the Europe that protects us. He is for massive taxation.”
Mr Melenchon, who sees himself as the French Hugo Chavez, has claimed he is the candidate of peace and has criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for backing US airstrikes in Syria.
The EU could have reason to be very worried if Melenchon’s momentum continues and the two anti-EU candidates are left to battle victory alone.
The first round of the French presidential election is just days away on April 23, and will be closely followed by a second-round runoff on May 7.