French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's roadmap to the Élysée Palace in May must first begin by inspiring a sense of urgency among politically apathetic voters, analysts at Nomura said in a note.
Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-European Union National Front, is currently neck-and-neck with centrist Emmanuel Macron for the first round vote on April 23, according to an Elabe poll. Macron is expected to go on to win the second and final round run-off vote on May 7, the same poll forecast.
"Mathematically, it remains feasible for Marine Le Pen to win. However, to achieve that, she needs to convince all the voters who, in the second round, have said they will abstain, or vote blank or who are still undecided to vote for her," Charles St-Arnaud, senior strategist and economist at Nomura Securities International, said in a note.
The phenomenon of 'blank' votes is expected to increase in France throughout the 2017 two-stage contest, Nomura predicted, as citizens frustrated with the political establishment opt to submit a nameless vote to the ballot box rather than support a candidate.
An Odoxa poll published Friday estimated that as many as 43 percent of the French electorate have yet to decide who to vote for in the general election.