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Marine Le Pen is a right wing figure who is running for president in France for the third time. Her last run against current President Emmanuel Macron was a blowout with Le Pen losing by 30 points. But polls suggest she is surging just days before the election Sunday. Today, Five Thirty Eight reports there’s a real chance she could win.

Based on survey data collected by French journalist Alexandre Léchenet, Macron and Le Pen hold strong leads over the rest of the field in Sunday’s first-round vote, with Macron leading the field at a bit north of 25 percent, on average, and Le Pen in second in the low 20s. Only one other candidate, far-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is polling above 10 percent.

However, as no candidate is polling anywhere near 50 percent, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters on April 24 is a near certainty at this point, as a candidate must secure a majority of the vote in order to win on Sunday…

What’s troubling for Macron, though, is that Le Pen’s gains suggest she could pose a real threat in the runoff, as she has consolidated support on the political right while her two main rivals, Valérie Pécresse and Éric Zemmour, have lost ground.

Here’s a Five Thirty Eight chart showing how tight the second round looks:

Le Pen’s rivals have been losing support but on the other side of the political aisle, Macron’s left-wing rival Jean-Luc Mélenchon is running strong enough that there’s some question about whether his voters would be willing to vote for Macron in a second round. Mélenchon has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn and is campaigning on lowering the retirement age.

The situation sounds not unlike the divide in the Democratic Party between Bernie Sanders people and Hillary (or Biden) people. In France, Macron started out as a moderate socialist but he’s become something of a villain to the left because of his efforts to liberalize the economy.

Macron’s early reforms as president made hiring and firing easier, capped employment tribunal rewards and created a bigger window for companies to negotiate a 35-hour workweek. Trade unions had neither the support nor the stomach for a fight.

He also passed controversial tax cuts that earned him the nickname “president of the rich” — slashing a levy on net wealth to cover only property, cutting corporation taxes to 25% and instituting a flat tax on dividends. “He’s the right-wing president we never expected,” one rival exclaimed in 2018.

Macron’s perceived shift to the right is running up against Le Pen’s shift to the center. This is something she’s apparently worked at since her previous lost to Macron and the NY Times reports there’s some indications her efforts are working.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader making her third attempt to become president of France, already had the backing of voters who came to listen to her recently in Stiring-Wendel, a former coal-mining town struggling to reinvent itself.

But after a 40-minute speech focusing on the rising cost of living, Ms. Le Pen succeeded in doing what even few of her supporters would have predicted just months ago: impressing them. Voters trickling out of an auditorium into the cold evening said she had become “less extreme,” more “mature” and “self-assured” — even “presidential.”

“She has softened, she is more composed, calmer, more serene,” said Yohan Brun, 19, a student who grew up in Stiring-Wendel and had come to listen to Ms. Le Pen because “she cares more about the French people than the other candidates.”…

“Marine Le Pen appears more sympathetic than Emmanuel Macron,” said Pierre Person, a national lawmaker of the president’s party, adding that he was worried that she could win.

She’s still, if not a long shot, probably not the favorite, but stranger things have happened. And Politico reports that’s making not just Macron’s people but the Biden administration nervous.

There is growing concern within President Joe Biden’s administration about the narrowing polls in the French presidential election that show a tight race between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

A possible victory by Le Pen, a Putin sympathizer, could destabilize the Western coalition against Moscow, upending France’s role as a leading European power and potentially giving other NATO leaders cold feet about staying in the alliance, according to three senior administration officials not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

Le Pen has softened her stance on Putin since the invasion but she’s less critical of him than Macron. Here’s a recent report on Le Pen from Al Jazeera.

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And one more from the BBC. This one shows Macron trying to solidify his support with the left while a shopkeeper interviewed by the BBC says she’s voting for Le Pen.

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Source: This post first appeared on HotAir

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