Macron’s popularity PLUMMETS – French President now neck and neck with Le Pen

Ms Le Pen has been expertly riding the anti-government wave that swelled following a political scandal over the centrist’s bodyguard and plummeting popularity ratings.

The poll, conducted by Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting for France Info and Le Figaro, showed Mr Macron’s LREM party winning 21.5 percent of the French vote in the European elections and Mrs Le Pen’s party winning 21 percent.

In an Ipsos poll in June, Mr Macron’s party was seen winning 26 percent of the vote, well ahead of the far-right’s 18 percent.

The conservative Les Républicains party came in third position with a tepid 14 percent of voting intentions. In the previous EU elections in 2014, Laurent Wauquiez’s party, then known as the UMP, garnered 27 percent of the French vote.

La France Insoumise, the party run by far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was seen winning 12.5 percent of the vote.

The biggest loser in Thursday’s poll was the leftist Socialist party, which garnered just 4.5 percent of voting intentions, its “lowest score ever,” according to Odoxa pollsters.

The Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting poll of 998 French people aged 18 and over was conducted between September 12 and September 13.

The poll was taken in the wake of a political scandal involving Mr Macron’s former bodyguard, weaker-than-expected growth, and the shock resignation of popular environment minister, Nicolas Hulot.

It comes just weeks after an Ifop survey showed that the 40-year-old president’s popularity had tumbled 10 percentage points to 31 per cent, a new low for Mr Macron and a score below that of his hugely unpopular predecessor François Hollande at the same point in his presidency.

The European elections are important because they will determine who leads the major EU institutions, including the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. The vote will also serve as an indicator of sentiment among the EU’s 500 million people.

Europhiles like Mr Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel fear that a surge in support for nationalist, anti-Brussels parties like the Rassemblement national could change Europe’s political landscape for good, and mark a shift towards populist policies and rhetoric.