Marine Le Pen election win ‘bigger than Trump for US or Brexit for UK’

Macron hammer blow as Le Pen 'more in tune with daily issues'

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Marine Le Pen has slumped in the French opinion polls after Wednesday night’s fiery TV debate with Emmanuel Macron. The far-right candidate vowed to ban the Muslim headscarf, and said she would place an outright ban on religious clothing in public, a law she said would be enforced like “wearing a seatbelt in a car”. The incumbent President warned Ms Le Pen that she risks inciting a “civil war” by implementing the ban. A snap poll by Elbae, published hours after the debate, placed Macron on 59 percent of the vote, with his controversial rival on 39 percent. Two percent of those surveyed abstained.

A similar result in Sunday’s run-off vote would see Mr Macron secure a second five-year term in the Élysée Palace.

Sunday’s vote is expected to be extremely close, and Ms Le Pen bringing the far-right to power in France for the first time in the modern political era would have seismic implications across the world.

Pascal Lamy, former European Commissioner for Trade and chief of staff to one-time European Commission president Jacques Delors, said a Le Pen victory would surpass two of the biggest events in global politics in recent years.

Speaking to The Guardian last week, he said it would be on a bigger scale “than Trump was for the United States, or Brexit for the UK”.

He added Ms Le Pen’s “sovereignist, protectionist, nationalist” approach would “totally contradict the French commitment to European integration”.

Mr Lamy said Ms Le Pen’s agenda includes “proposals which are in total breach of the treaties to which France was subscribed”.

Ms Le Pen is daughter of the controversial Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front.

She has attempted to give the political party a fresh face in recent years as it has long been considered racist and anti-Semitic.

She has abandoned controversial proposals for France to leave the EU, and pledged to do more to fight France’s skyrocketing cost of living.

Nonetheless, numerous commentators have called Ms Le Pen’s strategy “Frexit in all but name”, in that she wishes to fundamentally change France’s relationship with the bloc.

She hopes to reintroduce border controls on both products and people, which undermines the customs union and would also breach Schengen rules.

Political commentator Ian Dunt wrote in i this week: “This would be far worse than Brexit.

“Alongside Germany, France is the beating heart of the EU.

“To have one of its dual leader members lost to nationalist vandalism would, at best, mangle it up into permanent inaction.

“At worst, it would destroy it from within.”

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Most of the losing candidates in the first round have urged their supporters to back centrist Mr Macron to block Ms Le Pen from entering the Élysée.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon won 22 percent of the first round vote, only two percent behind Ms Le Pen.

He has refused to publicly back Mr Macron, but told his supporters “we must not give a single vote to Ms Le Pen”.

The support of the left is now vital to both parties, with Ms Le Pen targeting Mr Mélenchon’s rural, working-class support base, while Macron goes after the urban, higher-educated sections of the French population.

Mr Dunt wrote the choice should be “simple” to anyone on the left.

He said that while Mr Macron has been a “disappointing President” that has “veered to the right too often”, he is no Ms Le Pen.

He wrote: “He is not a racist. He is not on the far-right.

“He is not a threat to the global rules-based system. He is not an ally of Putin.

“He is not a threat to liberalism and democracy.”

France’s electorate goes to the polls on Sunday to decide who will be the next President.

An exit poll is expected to be published at 7pm GMT with formal results to be announced on Monday.

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