A year after Marine Le Pen stunned France by winning 17.9 percent of the vote in the first round of last May’s presidential elections, it appears the influence of her far-right National Front (FN) party remains strong.
According to the annual barometer by TNS Sofre carried out for French media, 32 percent of French people say they are either “absolutely” (6%) or “quite” (26%) in agreement with the party's ideas.
That figure represents a rise of 14 percentage points since 2010. The last time the poll showed such levels of support for the party was in October 1991.
“What is striking is that there has been no post-election drop," as seen after the 1995 and 2002 presidential elections, Emmanuel Riviere, head of Opinion TNS-Sofre told AFP.
The poll also revealed 35 percent of French people believe the FN party, which won two seats in last year’s parliamentary elections, “has the ability to participate in government”. And in another record, only 47 percent of respondents now believe the party is a danger to democracy, a record low in the poll.
The TNS-Sofre survey comes just two weeks after a separate opinion poll revealed most French people believe "there are too many foreigners in France" and 74 percent think "Islam is not compatible with French values".
Majority of French voters reject far-right
However, despite the apparent rise in popularity, the National Front is not about to become a mainstream force in French politics.
Two-thirds of the population cannot envisage voting for the party in the future and 81 percent say they do not adhere to the “solutions” offered by Marine Le Pen, according to the poll.
“This is not proof that the FN are becoming trivialized in France,” said Riviere.
Levels of agreement with FN policies remain stable except when it comes to the idea that “we do not do enough to defend French values” which was supported by 72 percent of respondents.
During the last election campaign Nicolas Sarkozy and the centre-right UMP party repeatedly put Islam and immigration at the top of their agenda in a bid to win votes from traditional FN supporters.
Sarkozy was heavily criticized by those on the left for trivializing these sensitive issues by pulling them into mainstream political debate. According to Riviere that policy has made an impact.
"It shows that what happens within the UMP really counts,” he said. “Its leaders have made sure the themes of immigration and Islam are more present, more debated and without doubt seen as more problematic.”