A new poll has predicted for the first time that France’s centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron would defeat far-right contender Marine Le Pen in the initial round of the French presidential election next month.
The results of a poll conducted by the Harris Interactive on Thursday revealed that Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, would garner 26 percent of the vote on April 23, a six-point gain in the course of two weeks, and National Front (NF) party’s leader Le Pen would secure 25 percent of the ballots, a two-point loss during the same period.
The poll, however, reflected the findings of previous surveys in predicting results in a potential runoff. In that scenario, the poll projected, Macron would gain 65 percent compared to Le Pen’s 35.
A former investment banker, Macron said in a speech on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Wednesday that he would designate a woman as the country’s premier if he won the keys to the Elysee Palace.
A growing list of supporters from both the left and the center have rallied behind the young Macron. A major boost to his campaign was received on Wednesday when Paris’ former mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, who is a Socialist, endorsed Macron, calling him “a reformist, a European, and a realist.”
Delanoe, who was Paris’ mayor from 2001 to 2014, argued that he supported Macron since it was vital to “throw the most weight possible behind the candidate who can beat Madam Le Pen in the first round.”
Le Pen, well known for her anti-refugee rhetoric, became the leader of the NF in 2011 and has promised to hold a referendum on France’s exit from the European Union (EU) if elected president.
Although no survey has so far projected a victory for her over the pro-EU Macron or conservative candidate Francois Fillon — her other rival — she is hoping to emulate the surprise success of Donald Trump in the US presidential election last year.
She launched her election bid earlier in the month on an anti-Islam platform. She has said that if elected president, she would close down mosques and places of Islamic teaching.
On Monday, outgoing President Francois Hollande said that he would “do everything” in his power to prevent Le Pen from becoming president.
Meanwhile, Le Pen and Fillon are both facing allegations of misusing public money. Both have, however, denied the allegations.