A largely overlooked study by French pollster, IFOP, shows a dramatic surge in support for Marine Le Pen amongst police and security forces over the past five years, with a large majority set to support the Front National candidate on Sunday’s first round of voting.
Analyzing data from communities with concentrations of police, military and prison guards, the study’s authors were able to plot the dramatic rise in support for the Front National and its president over the past three election cycles and to measure voting intent for the 2017 presidential election.
French security forces have been on the front line of the country’s state of emergency since the Paris terror attacks of November 2015 and under pressure to maintain order in an explosive period which has witnessed seemingly endless and violent protest movements, the spread of Islamic extremism and a growing sense of lawlessness which the French refer to in daily parlance as ‘’ l’insécurité’’.
Nanterre, home to a barracks of the gendarmerie’s republican guard, provides a snapshot of the Front National’s progression. Data from a polling station in the Parisian suburb show Le Pen scoring 37.5% in the 2012 presidential election, with her party, the Front National, increasing to 49.3% by 2014’s European elections. In 2015’s regional elections, 51.8% of votes at the same polling station – which serves members of the guard and their families – were cast for the party. The republican guard protects state buildings, supplies guards of honor for military ceremonies and supports law enforcement in Paris.
At Hyères, on the Mediterranean Côte d’Azur, the increase was even more dramatic at polling stations serving the barracks of a gendarmerie mobile unit; 42.1% of votes cast for Le Pen in the 2012 presidential election increased to 48.3% for her party in the 2014 European elections and to a remarkable 64.4% in 2015’s regional elections.
A similar progression can be seen at a Versailles polling station next to the Satory military base with the Front National increasing its vote from 46.1% in 2012 to 61.9% just three years later. The base houses, amongst others, the CIGN, an elite counter-terrorism unit involved in the operation against the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
In a linked survey on voting intentions for the 2017 presidential race, a massive 44% of police, gendarmes, soldiers and prison guards are set to support Le Pen in the first round of voting, a greater proportion than the French population as a whole. Establishment right candidate, François Fillon, polls at 28% with leftist and socialist parties trailing far behind. A further study by IFOP, focusing solely on gendarmes, reveals that 51% intend to vote for Le Pen on Sunday, up from 43% at the last presidential election in 2012.
The dangers faced by law enforcement in certain immigrant enclaves alongside operations at migrant camps and at violent leftist protests have helped shape opinions and voting patterns over the study period, the report suggests, noting the sharp increase in injuries suffered by police and gendarmes during the same years.
Le Pen has visited numerous police stations in recent months in support of front line law enforcement, and has been critical of the socialist government of François Hollande for mollycoddling criminals and delinquents.
Promising to increase police and gendarme numbers by 15,000 and to upgrade the military, Le Pen has made law and order a key campaign issue, a clear winner amongst law enforcement given the country’s fortunes in recent years, a state of affairs the presidential candidate blames on the failures and bad decisions of successive establishment-left and right governments.
With only three days to go until voters head to the polls, there is a sense here that an electoral surprise could be in store, with many voters – up to a third of the electorate – still undecided. Political insiders believe that the big story of Sunday’s first round vote could be Le Pen’s score, said to be under-estimated in the polls despite competition from some of the lesser known of the eleven candidates.
Establishment-right candidate, François Fillon appears to be regaining momentum and could well be Le Pen’s main adversary if she qualifies for the second round. Polls give Le Pen a greater chance at victory on May 7th when facing Fillon due to abstention by left-wing voters in such a scenario.
With the last of her super-rallies wrapping-up in Marseille yesterday evening, the coming days of Le Pen’s campaign will center on media appearances, including tonight’s television debate, a ‘’get out the vote’’ and the possible announcement of a potential prime minister and cabinet picks.
Following the last-minute thwarting of an alleged Islamic terror plot to assassinate a leading candidate, Le Pen reinforced her key campaign themes of closing radical, Salafist mosques, expelling foreign terror suspects and the reinstatement of French borders during the rally which drew massive crowds in spite of antifa protests and a partial métro shut down.
(Photo Credits: Front National and https://www.devenir-gendarme.fr/la-gendarmerie/quelques-metiers/les-gendarmes-mobiles).