French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is becoming increasingly popular among women, a key demographic for her chances in April’s election.
The populist National Front leader has gained support from two million more women compared to the last election in 2012, according to Bloomberg. Women are far less likely to cast a vote in April’s election compared to men, which makes the gains vital in a tight race.
“Women are the key,” Nonna Meyer, a researcher at the Sciences Po institute in Paris who has studied the National Front for 25 years, told Bloomberg. “These women often abstain and now they are backing Le Pen to protect their jobs and their security.”
Le Pen received support from 17 percent of women voters in 2012 and 20 percent of the men. She’s now backed by 26 percent of likely voters from both sexes.
Booklets with the words “defend French women” have been distributed across France since Le Pen’s campaign launch Feb. 4. (RELATED: Le Pen Mirrors Trump As She Launches Presidential Campaign)
The idea is to portray the populist candidate as a mother, sister, lawyer and leader who will protect French women from Islamist fundamentalists. The message received a boost Tuesday when Le Pen refused to don a hijab and cancelled a meeting with Lebanon’s grand mufti. (RELATED: Marine Le Pen Refuses To Wear Hijab, Cancels Meeting With Key Arab Leader)
The National Front has also become popular within France’s gay community. Nearly 40 percent of married gay men voted for the party in regional elections last year, far higher than their share of heterosexual voters.
Le Pen is expected to win the first round in April, but she trails her opponents in polls of possible second-round contingencies.
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