EUROPE was today facing a popularity crisis in France despite Emmanuel Macron’s first round election win, with figures showing that half of voters backed openly eurosceptic candidates.

Experts said the relief emanating from Brussels over the centrist europhile making the final round of the contest masked an alarming rise in the number of people backing anti-Brussels politicians.

Together the far-right’s Marine Le Pen and the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who both advocate Frexit unless the EU is seriously reformed, clinched just under a fraction of 50 per cent of the vote last night.

In 2012 the pair secured just 29 per cent of the electorate, meaning they have massively grown their support base in the space of just four years under Francois Hollande’s leadership.

Francois Fillon, the centre-right candidate who crashed out at the first hurdle with 20 per cent of the vote, is also seen as being more eurosceptic than his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Conservative politician, who advocates repatriation of powers from Brussels, was the front-runner for the race until he became embroiled in a scandal over payments to his family. He has now endorsed Mr Macron.

Dutch analyst Peter Clieppe, from the independent Open Europe think tank, said the EU “has a problem” with growing euroscepticism in France despite the temporary relief provided by Mr Macron’s victory.

He noted: “Eurosceptics – even excluding Fillon – gain about 50% of the Presidential vote in France. The EU has a problem.”

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