PARIS (Reuters) – Far-right French presidential contenders Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour have both amassed enough endorsements from elected officials to run in April’s election, beating a deadline by days, authorities said on Tuesday.
Le Pen and Zemmour are performing well in polls for the April 10 election, second and third respectively behind President Emmanuel Macron. The prospect that either could fail to gain the required 500 endorsements, or ‘parrainages,’ had led both to question the legitimacy of France’s electoral process.
France’s Constitutional Council posted data on its website showing the two candidates had gained sufficient numbers.
The endorsement rule, in place since the mid-1970s, is designed to filter out some of the more eccentric electoral contenders ahead of the first round.
However, candidates with popular backing but without deep party roots throughout France, can struggle to find the endorsements among locally-elected officials who often owe their success to links to the mainstream parties.
Zemmour, a talk-show star and writer who made a career of pushing the bounds of political correctness and has convictions for inciting racial hate, has never held elected office but has seen membership of his new ‘Reconquete’ (Reconquer) party soar to levels that is the envy of some traditional parties.
“Thank you to the 620 mayors and locally-elected officials of France who have allowed me to be a contender in the presidential election,” Zemmour tweeted.
Le Pen tweeted: “Forward towards victory.”
An IFOP poll on Tuesday showed Macron, who has still to official announce his candidacy, with 28% of voter support and Le Pen with 17%. Zemmour was tied on 13% with conservative challenger Valerie Pecresse.
The poll showed Macron winning the second-round runoff against Le Pen.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Writing by Richard Lough)