Marine Le Pen’s far-right party has been the biggest beneficiary of French discontent over President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the minimum retirement age, according to a survey of voting intentions by pollster Ifop for Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
If legislative elections were to take place on Sunday, 26% of the 1,094 adults interviewed via the internet on March 20-21 said they would support National Rally candidates. That was 5 points higher than the previous poll in November, before a series of strikes and protests against the unpopular pension reform.
A group of parties that back the president would get the votes of 22% of those polled, down 5 points. Politicians from the Nupes alliance of left-wing and green parties would get 26%, up 1 point.
The strongest support for Le Pen outside her own party was among voters with no political affiliation, with almost one-third saying they would back a National Rally candidate, according to Ifop. The margin of error in the poll was around 2.5-2.8 points.
In the first round of the last legislative elections in June, Macron’s group had 26.9% of support, ahead of Nupes with 26.3% and the National Rally with 19.2%.
Millions of people have joined a series of strikes and marches across France since mid-January against the government’s overhaul of the pension system. Protests have escalated in recent days after the bill was forced through using Article 49.3 of the French constitution to avoid a vote in the National Assembly.
Government spokesman Olivier Veran acknowledged in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche that protesters are angry and that they must be heard.
“While many are demonstrating against the pension reform, others are also doing it for their purchasing power or because they struggle to access public services,” he was quoted as saying.
Veran said young people were particularly against the use of Article 49.3.
“For them, it just feeds distrust in our institutions and those who represent them in general,” he said.