The success of Emmanuel Macron’s ‘En Marche’, a party which is barely a year old, has taken some by surprise. But Macron wasn’t the only alternative party candidate to do well in the first round of voting in the French Presidential elections. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, or NDA as the French call him, is the leader of Debout La France – probably the closest thing in French politics to Ukip. The mayor of Yeres, a commune which sits in the suburbs of Paris, is firmly eurosceptic and anti-euro. For some, he is France’s answer to Nigel Farage. And yesterday, he picked up 4.7 per cent of the vote – compared to 1.8 per cent in 2012. His contribution to the election was decisive too; in acting as the ‘spoiler’ for Francois Fillon, he denied the once firm favourite a place in the second round by scooping up the votes of people who would have backed the Republicans, had it not been for the Penelopegate scandals. If Fillon had only a third of the 1.7 million NDA votes, he would have pipped Le Pen to the second round.
But even without having progressed to the final round, Dupont-Aignan still wields power. Unlike Fillon, who immediately backed Macron, Dupont-Aignan has not said how he would steer his voters. His campaign are calling him the ‘king-maker’, which may be pushing the truth somewhat. But what’s clear now is that the French parliamentary right – the Republicans and the UDI – must find a way to accommodate people who backed Debout La France, or risk being swallowed up by Le Pen’s Front National.