James Forsyth

Why France so worries European policy makers

Why France so worries European policy makers
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Today’s huge Podemos rally in Madrid is a reminder that Syriza’s victory in Greece has emboldened the anti-austerity left across the Eurozone. What worries Angela Merkel and other northern European leaders is, as I say in the magazine this week, that any concessions to the new government in Athens, will lead to Podemos—a party which was founded less than 12 months ago—wining the Spanish elections later this year.

But the country that most worries European policymakers isn’t Greece or Spain but France. Its economy is showing no signs of recovering and its politics are threatening to become very ugly indeed.

A new poll published this week shows the Front National’s Marine Le Pen topping the first round of the French presidential election. The poll by Ifop for Marianne magazine has Le Pen on 29%, Sarkozy on 23% and Hollande on 21%. Now, the polls do show her losing in the second round to both men. But, in a sign of how much has changed since 2002 when her father polled a mere 18% in the final round against Jacques Chirac, she is on 45% against Hollande and 40% against Sarkozy.