PARIS – Emmanuel Macron has increased his lead over Marine Le Pen in the final poll before the second round of the French presidential election, according to a YouGov and Datapraxis poll seen by the New Statesman. The incumbent president would win 56 per cent of the vote to the far-right leader’s 44 per cent according to the poll, conducted on 19-21 April.
Macron’s lead has grown by 4 percentage points since the last poll on 12-14 April. Much of the president’s higher score can be explained by increased support from voters who chose the left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round. While about half of Mélenchon voters say they don’t know how they will vote or have no preference, 70 per cent of those who do will choose Macron, up from 55 per cent in the previous poll.
The president has been courting left-wing voters, particularly those who chose Mélenchon. In a speech in Marseille on 16 April, Macron promised to implement environmental policies borrowed from Mélenchon and Yannick Jadot, the Green candidate. The president has pledged to make the environment a cornerstone of his second-term agenda, saying that he has heard the message sent by left-wing voters.
Mélenchon was eliminated in the first round of voting by less than 1.5 percentage points (he came third with 21.95 per cent of the vote to Le Pen’s 23.15 per cent) and has turned his attention to parliamentary elections scheduled for June. He has said that his aim is for his party, France Unbowed, to win a majority and install him as prime minister. Four fifths of people who voted for a left-wing candidate in the first round agree with the statement: “The legislative election in June are the third round. Let’s get a left-wing prime minister!”
Paul Hilder, the founder of Datapraxis, said: “Usually the legislative elections are a foregone conclusion after the second round. The president’s party tends to get a majority. But this year could see an exception to that rule. There is now a third force in French politics: the left led by Mélenchon, who has asked the French to elect him prime minister in the legislative elections, forcing a ‘co-habitation’ with Macron. This is a big goal, and not an impossible one.”
The poll shows that the 18-24 and over 55 age groups lean most heavily towards Macron. Both demographics choose the president with 60 per cent of the vote or more, while those in the middle are more evenly split. Younger voters largely chose Mélenchon in the first round.
Le Pen is ahead only in the north-east of France, her traditional support base. In all other regions Macron is ahead, including in the Paris area, where 69 per cent of voters choose him. Medium- and low-education voters are relatively evenly split between the candidates, while highly educated voters split for Macron with 69 per cent support.