Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s hard-right Front National, is currently leading the most polls for the first round of the 2017 French presidential election.
But the 25-year old Marion Marechal-Le Pen, granddaughter of the infamous FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of current party leader Marine Le Pen, will be tested at the ballot long before then.
She’s running in provincial elections in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, a part of southern France on the border with Italy. The elections will determine France’s regional presidencies.
Her grandfather ran for the seat in 2010, racking up 20.39% of the vote, nearly twice the 11.42% that the party achieved nationally.
But she’s doing much, much better, according to an article from France24. In fact, a poll released by Ipsos on Sunday put the youngest Le Pen on a lofty 40% of the vote, with elections now just two weeks away (on December 6). Her nearest competitor, Christian Estrosi of the centre-right Republican party, sits at 30%. The candidate representing President Francois Hollande’s socialist party lags far behind on 16%.
Here’s what Barclays’ European research team said about the regional elections in a note sent out of Friday:
It would be the first time in France’s history that the National Front holds such political responsibilities. This would endorse the gradual rise in popularity of the far-right party over the last five years. The narrow scope of powers that regional leadership bestows, as well as the limited time before the Presidential election, implies that the benefits may be for the longer term and not the immediate future.
The young Le Pen and the FN have picked up 3 percentage points since her last polling, according to Ipsos. A lot of analysts are raising the prospect that the brutal Paris attacks will bolster the FN at the expense of other parties, given their anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism positions.
The elections have two rounds if no candidate gets 50% of the vote the first time round, and candidates need 10% to qualify for the second round.
The 2nd round voting intentions suggest Le Pen junior won’t become the regional president if the centre-right and centre-left parties co-operate. She’s on 41%, compared to their respective 34% and 25%.
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