NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, France – Marine Le Pen has never looked to the increasingly affluent Paris region when it comes to gathering voters, preferring instead to focus on poorer areas with a high concentration of working-class voters. But there is one enclave where she can enjoy an unexpectedly high number of votes this Sunday: Neuilly-sur-Seine, an exclusive city west of Paris, and one of the country’s richest.
Two weeks ago, in France’s presidential vote in the first round, the far-right candidates won an unusual quarter of the votes there. Much of this breakthrough was due to support for Éric Zemmour, an up-and-coming right-wing candidate who received only 7 percent of the vote nationwide but received nearly 19 percent of the ballot papers in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Mr. Zemmour’s calls for reborn honor for France – as well as his fame as a prolific conservative writer and his champion of pro-business policies – appealed to the city’s bourgeois residents.
But now that Mr. Zemmour is out of the race, some locals may vote for a candidate who once seemed alien to the city’s electoral sociology: Ms. Le Pen.
“We have to do everything we can to save France,” said Caroline Martin, 49, who was on her way out of a polling station near the town hall building in the Neo-Renaissance. A declared Zemmour supporter, she said she had cast her vote for Mrs Le Pen, even though she lamented her lack of charisma and intellectual status.
“But if you have really understood Mr Zemmour’s message,” she said, pointing to his tough stance on immigration, security and Islam, “you are voting against Macron – you are voting Le Pen.” She added that all her friends who supported Mr Zemmour would vote as she did.
Opinion polls show that about three-quarters of Mr Zemmour’s supporters will vote for Mrs Le Pen across the country. Judging by the results of the first round, this would mean that Mrs Le Pen could get as much as 20 per cent of the vote in Neuilly-sur-Seine, double her share at the last election. But Mr Macron’s support is likely to dwarf it from Mrs Le Pen. The French president got almost half of the votes in the city in the first round of elections.
Sir. Zemmour had in the past put his hope in his ability to appeal to “the patriotic bourgeoisie and the working class.” But he ended up attracting only bourgeois voters – who can now turn to Mrs Le Pen.
Sitting on a bench facing the town hall, Jean-Louis Mathieu, who had just voted for Mrs Le Pen, said he was not surprised by the emergence of the far right in the affluent suburb. He did not attribute it to the economic difficulties that Mrs Le Pen was campaigning for – “I do not have a money problem,” he said – but to a growing sense that “the France we used to know, with values, with respect , no longer exists. “
However, several Zemmour supporters who approached City Hall’s polling station said they were still hesitant to cast a vote for Mrs Le Pen, a candidate they had never voted for before and whom many considered unfit to govern. .
Alain de Font Joyeuse, an 84-year-old pensioner, said he preferred Mrs Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, who had recently joined Mr Zemmour’s party and whom he saw as wiser than his aunt. Still unresolved in the polls, he said he finally cast a blank ballot.
“Macron, I do not trust him,” said Mr de Font Joyeuse. “And Le Pen, I do not have a good feeling. She has no one to help her rule.”