The far-right French politician Marine Le Pen has just scored her biggest PR victory yet. Previous polls have shown that if the 2017 French elections were held today Le Pen would defeat current president François Hollande in the first round—a remarkable feat, but one Le Pen’s father also pulled off in 2002. French presidential elections feature a second round runoff as well, which was where Le Pen senior faltered. The latest poll, however, shows that Marine Le Pen would defeat Hollande in that round, taking 54 percent of the vote to his 46 percent. Haaretz:
Candidates who Le Pen would beat in the first round of an election, according to the poll, include former prime ministers Alain Juppé and François Fillon and former president Nicolas Sarkozy, taking 28 percent to his 25 percent.But the only candidate she would win against in a second round run-off is Hollande, according to the poll.
Le Pen’s surge in the polls may seem unexpected, but it reflects a wider trend toward strengthening nationalist movements as well as far-right revivals in various places across the European Union. Support for Scottish independence is rising—and now in Northern Ireland too. Not only Le Pen’s National Front party, but also the far-right UKIP party in England is flourishing. The factors allowing these groups to rise are complex—everything from economic malaise to the leadership vacuum created by incompetent leaders enmeshed in private scandals and dalliances—including Hollande. All these factors pose threats to the cohesion and success of the European project. The European Union is one of the noblest political experiments in human history, but its future looks increasingly precarious.