With the gradual easing of the lockdown, political competition is also picking up speed in France.

Above all, it shows one thing: the right-wing populist politician Marine Le Pen is booming again.

An important milestone before the presidential elections next year are the regional elections, the first round of which will take place next weekend.

According to the latest polls, their Rassemblement National (RN, formerly: Front National) is ahead in six of the twelve French regions.

In the regional elections in 2015, the party had already achieved the highest percentage result in its history with 27.7 percent, even if its candidates could not win a single region in the second ballot.

Christian Schubert

Business correspondent in Paris.

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    At the national level, all polling institutes see Marine Le Pen in the runoff of the 2022 presidential election - possibly again against Emmanuel Macron as it was five years earlier.

    At that time, of course, faced a fresh Macron who had not yet been marked by the severe crises of the pandemic, the “yellow vests” movement and the pension protests.

    Marine Le Pen is currently making gains, especially in the bourgeois-conservative camp.

    According to a survey, they see 42 percent of the French of this political color in a positive light, 12 points more than a month earlier.

    39 percent of the supporters of the Republican Party, the actual home power of the Conservatives, have sympathy for Le Pen, 14 percentage points more than four weeks ago.

    Radicality removed from the program

    "Marine Le Pen is starting a hostile takeover with this group of voters," analyzes political scientist Gilles Ivaldi from the Paris University of Sciences Po. This is more evident than ever in the economic demands. An official economic program is not yet in place, which is why the RN is rejecting interview requests, but Le Pen is increasingly making public about economic issues. These have always been her Achilles heel; In 2017, Emmanuel Macron exposed her gross weaknesses in a legendary television debate ahead of the presidential election.

    But she worked on it - and above all she removed a lot of radicalism from her program. Euro exit? She had actually deleted it between the two ballots in 2017, but at that time the turnaround was hardly credible. Now she lets go of it completely. Because with a very large majority, the French want to stay in the monetary union. “The French tell us: do it within the euro. So we'll do it within the euro, ”Le Pen said in a television interview. She can even see positive aspects of the common currency: "The euro partially protects us from the turmoil on the financial markets."

    Even the “Frexit”, the exit from the European Union, is no longer part of the program. Le Pen had never officially included it in the list of demands, but all of her advocates for going it alone nationally had resulted in it. Now she doesn't want to know anything more, even if the EU is less popular with the French than the euro. “She has to be moderate, otherwise she won't make it to the middle-class camp,” judges Ivaldi.

    To what extent the course swing is credible remains to be seen. “If you want to stay in the euro, would you also accept the common rules for the common currency? That's the big question, ”says economist Eric Chaney of the Institut Montaigne consultancy. It deliberately remains vague. Today nobody is talking about the Maastricht rules or the ban on buying government debt anyway, she says. “The monetary union has broken with its dogmas; these dogmas had led me to believe in the past that the euro was not viable, ”she said. But now there are no more annoying rules in the way - one more reason for them to accept the euro.