More than half of police officers in France have said they are voting for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s election because of her strong anti-terror stance.
According to the IFOP poll, 51 per cent of the Gendarmerie are planning to back Le Pen in the nail-biting election.
That is more than double the number of people who are backing her nearest rival, centrist Emmanuel Macron (16.5 per cent).
Le Pen has pledged to beef up law and order in her manifesto, with 15,000 more police officers, deporting foreign criminals and closing extremist mosques.
According to the poll, Le Pen’s strongest base of support is among working-age people with lower education.
During a rally on Tuesday, she declared mass-migration a ‘tragedy’ for her country and savaged the EU.
She also pledged to suspend all immigration if she wins the presidency, saying her rivals support ‘savage globalisation.’
Le Pen told supporters in Paris: ‘I will protect you. My first measure as president will be to reinstate France’s borders.
‘The choice on Sunday is simple. It is a choice between a France that is rising again and a France that is sinking.
Referring to her supporters as ‘patriots’, she added: ‘Fight for victory, until the very last minute.
‘If every patriot can this week convince just one abstentionist, just one undecided voter, we are sure to win!
Le Pen is widely expected to be one of the two candidates to make it through that first round, along with pro-European Macron, before a run-off on May 7.
However, polls have been tightening in recent days, with hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon closing the gap, along with Thatcherite Francois Fillon, the former frontrunner whose campaign has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
Three surveys show Macron having a slight edge over Le Pen with 23-25 per cent against 22-23 per cent.
According to the recent polling by IFOP, Macron’s support is highest among professional workers, those with higher levels of education, as well as the younger members of society.
Fillon – the only contender with any government pedigree – and Melenchon are tied at around 19 per cent, after a late spurt put them within striking distance of the frontrunners.
The race is being watched internationally as an important gauge of populist sentiment, and the outcome is increasingly uncertain just days before Sunday’s first round vote.