With just days to go until the presidential election runoff between Marin le Pen of the National Front and the liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron, political divisions among French voters appear to be deeper than anywhere across the European Union, according to the latest poll by the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation.
The poll found that every fifth Frenchman had extreme views, with 14 percent having far-right leanings and 6 percent describing themselves as far-left, compared to just 7 percent across the EU.
Some 35 percent of French respondents were “centrist,” as compared to 62 percent of such voters in the bloc.
The Bertelsmann survey comes days before the presidential runoff between le Pen and Macron scheduled for this Sunday.
Issues of Islam and French national identity dominated the heated exchange between the two presidential candidates on Wednesday. Macron maintains that Le Pen still represents “the party of hatred,” while Le Pen claims that Islamic fundamentalism is a “mortal danger” for France. She accused Macron of having an “indulgent attitude” towards Islamic extremism, while he accused Le Pen of dividing France and stoking “civil war”.
Macron, a former investment banker who has served as France’s economy minister, describes himself as a man having left and progressive views on social issues, but more liberal and pro-business when it comes to trade and entrepreneurship.
Le Pen, who leads the right-wing National Front, did much to clear the party of an uneasy past plagued by the legacy of French collaborationism. Her program advocates curbs on immigration, tougher policies on crime and vows to eradicate radical Islamism…