PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour won the backing of the niece of Marine Le Pen – his main far-right rival, highlighting the fractured opposition to President Emmanuel Macron which could boost Macron’s re-election chances.
Marion Marechal Le Pen, who is also the grand-daughter of French far-right figurehead Jean Marie Le Pen, gave her endorsement at a rally of Zemmour supporters in Toulon, southern France, on Sunday.
“There is a big, national movement behind your candidacy,” Marion Marechal Le Pen told the Toulon rally.
She also told the Valeurs Actuelles magazine at the meeting that she shared Zemmour’s views over France facing a “battle of civilisations.”
“With regards to the term of battle of civilisations, I obviously include questions regarding migration, culture and demographics,” Marion Marechal Le Pen told Valeurs Actuelles.
Zemmour has recently poached several people from Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National far-right party, although he has also started to lose ground in opinion polls.
Splits between France’s far-right parties along with similar rifts among left-wing parties, such as the Parti Socialiste and the more hard-left La France Insoumise party, are seen as benefiting Macron.
Opinion polls point to Macron getting re-elected in April.
A poll published this weekend by Le Monde newspaper showed that Macron’s lead over rival candidates had grown in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion has forced the usually Russophile Marine Le Pen and Zemmour to justify their past support for Putin.
Macron officially launched his re-election campaign earlier this month, saying he was there to defend the values of France that “the world’s disorders are threatening.”
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough/Sudip Kar-Gupta)