Some Voters in a Wealthy Paris Suburb Consider Backing Le Pen

Some Voters in a Wealthy Paris Suburb Consider Backing Le Pen

NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, France — Marine Le Pen has never set her sights on the increasingly affluent Paris region when it comes to rallying voters, preferring instead to focus on poorer areas with a high concentration of working-class voters. But there is one enclave where she may enjoy an unexpectedly high number of votes this Sunday: Neuilly-sur-Seine, an upscale city west of Paris, and one of the country’s wealthiest.

Two weeks ago, in France’s first-round presidential vote, far-right candidates won an unusual quarter of the vote there. Much of this breakthrough was because of support for Éric Zemmour, an upstart far-right candidate, who received only 7 percent of the vote nationally, but garnered nearly 19 percent of the ballots in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Mr. Zemmour’s calls for reborn glory for France — as well as his fame as a prolific conservative writer and his championing 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 need to do everything we can to save France,” said Caroline Martin, 49, who was leaving a polling station near the Neo-Renaissance City Hall building. An avowed Zemmour supporter, she said she had cast her vote for Ms. Le Pen, though she regretted her lack of charisma and intellectual standing.

“But if you’ve really understood Mr. Zemmour’s message,” she said, pointing to his tough stance on immigration, security and Islam, “you vote against Macron — you vote Le Pen.” She added that all of her friends who backed Mr. Zemmour would vote as she did.

Polls show that about three-quarters of Mr. Zemmour’s supporters will vote for Ms. Le Pen nationwide. Judging by the results of the first round, this would mean that Ms. Le Pen could get as much as 20 percent of the runoff vote in Neuilly-sur-Seine, double her share in the last election. However, Mr. Macron’s support there will likely dwarf that of Ms. Le Pen. The French president garnered nearly half of the vote in the city in the first round.

Mr. Zemmour in the past had pinned his hopes on his ability to appeal to “the patriotic bourgeoisie and the working classes.” But he ended up attracting only bourgeois voters — who may now turn to Ms. Le Pen.

Sitting on a bench facing City Hall, Jean-Louis Mathieu, who had just voted for Ms. Le Pen, said he was not surprised by the rise of the far right in the wealthy suburb. He attributed it not to the economic hardships that Ms. Le Pen campaigned on — “I don’t have a money problem,” he said — but to a growing sense that “the France we used to know, with values, with respect, doesn’t exist anymore.”

But several Zemmour supporters approaching the City Hall polling station said they were still hesitant to cast a ballot for Ms. Le Pen, a candidate for whom they had never voted in the past and who many considered unfit to govern.

Alain de Font Joyeuse, an 84-year-old retiree, said he preferred Ms. Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, who recently joined Mr. Zemmour’s party and whom he saw as smarter than her aunt. Still undecided in the polling booth, he said he finally cast a blank ballot.

“Macron, I don’t trust him,” Mr. de Font Joyeuse said. “And Le Pen, I don’t have a good feeling. She has no one to help her govern.”

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