PARIS — A poll in France suggests for the first time that far-right pundit Eric Zemmour would qualify for the second round of next year’s presidential election and eclipse traditional far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Some 17-18 percent of voters tell Harris Interactive polling they will vote for Zemmour in the first round, compared with 15-16 percent for Le Pen.
This would mean he would advance to a second round with President Emmanuel Macron, who was credited with 24-27 percent of voter intentions in the first round, set to be held on April 10.
The online poll of 1,310 people, carried out on October 4 and published in Challenges magazine, implies Macron would win a run-off vote against Zemmour by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.
Analysts stress the election remains highly unpredictable and forecasting is rendered more difficult by France’s two-round system, which sees the two highest-placed winners in the first round proceed to the run-off.
But the poll will add momentum to Zemmour’s radical anti-immigration and anti-Islam campaign, even though he is still yet to officially declare his intention to run.
For the last four years, polls have consistently suggested Macron and Le Pen would meet in the run-off on April 24 — a repeat of the last election in 2017.
“A candidate has never been known to experience such a change in voter intentions in so short a space of time as we’ve seen with Eric Zemmour,” pollster Antoine Gautier from Harris Interactive commented on the results of the survey.
Zemmour — who is Jewish — was seen as winning only 7 percent when the group tested his popularity with voters for the first time on September 8.