Marine Le Pen is the overwhelming favourite when it comes to the armed police
A majority (51 per cent) of the gendarmerie, a military wing of the French police force, say they are voting for the Front National leader – more than double the number backing her nearest challenger Emmanuel Macron.
An Ifop poll said just 16.5 per cent of the 100,000 strong police unit are voting for Mr Macron, with scandal-hit Francois Fillon amassing a pitiful 14 per cent of the vote.
Ms Le Pen’s support is particularly high (65 per cent) among the mobile gendarmerie, who are the first to respond to terror attacks and other major incidents across the country.
When asked what they believed the most important topic of the French election was, the armed police proclaimed ‘terror’, with 74 per cent ticking the ‘terrorisme’ box.
It was also the most important issue for the French electorate as a whole, with the poll showing 43 per cent of the wider public seeing counter-terrorism as their top priority.
This chimes with Ms Le Pen’s strong law and order manifesto pledges – the 62-year-old has made vowed to provide 15,000 more police officers.
The Gendarmerie are often the first to respond to terror attacks
However, among top officers in armed police, it is actually Mr Fillon who scores highest, with 42 per cent of the vote. Ms Le Pen scores just 17 per cent of officers' popular support.
According to Ifop, "the consultation was conducted with a sample of 588 gendarmes, all aged 18 and over”.
The representation of the sample was adjusted to include the variables of gender, region, status and rank.
Things you didn't know about Marine Le Pen
Wed, April 5, 2017
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father, she has led a movement of "de-demonization of the Front National" to detoxify it and soften its image
The interviews were conducted by a self-administered online questionnaire, deployed on the site and on the Facebook page of the Gendarmerie National Force from March 31 to April 18, 2017.
However, recent French polls have faced questions over accuracy.
The New York Times recently gave five top pollsters the same raw data and found that their conclusions differed by up to five percentage points.
And The Economist said: "While there is plenty of room for genuine disagreement about demographic weighting procedures, likely-voter screens and the like, there is also little to prevent pollsters from manipulating these fine-grained decisions in order to reverse-engineer a desired result."
The police poll comes as France has been ravaged by devastating terror attacks in the last 18 months and seen the barbaric killing of more than 230 of its civilians.
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The Front National firebrand defiantly held her latest campaign rally in Marseille this evening, less than a day after anti-terror police arrested two suspected Islamic State supporters who were thought to be planning a terror attack on the eve of the election.
Ms Le Pen’s speech focused heavily on security and saw her promising to “be the president that protects”.
She added: ”I want to protect the people of which I am a part, the people who have seen me grow and see my children grow up.”
Ms Le Pen has been leading in the national opinion polls for much of the campaign and is currently neck and neck with political novice Mr Macron.
However, Mr Macron, the candidate for En Marche, is favourite to win in the second round.
The first round of voting takes place on April 23, with the top two candidates going through to the run off which culminates on May 7.