(Bloomberg) -- The far-right leader of the National Rally party, Marine Le Pen, has added surprising new supporters ahead of France’s legislative election as the traditional norms that have kept nationalist groups out of power are falling apart. 

One of France’s most prominent Jews said he would consider voting for Le Pen rather than an alliance of left wing parties that has emerged as her main challenger. A former spokeswoman to French President Emmanuel Macron said she’d abstain rather than vote against the far right if she was faced with the same choice, citing allegedly anti-semitic comments by the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon.

In a bid to shore up the center, Macron has opted not to field candidates in more than 10% of seats, judging that moderates from either the center-right or the left would stand a better chance.

The goal “is to pick the candidate who is the most republican and the most democratic,” former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Monday on RMC radio.

For generations, the French establishment had a tacit agreement that prevented far-right parties from getting close to the levers of government. But in the week since Macron dissolved the National Assembly, his opponents from across the political spectrum have been engaged in frantic negotiations to seal alliances that would maximize their chances in the two-round ballot that concludes on July 7. 

This has created an opening for the far right.   

If Le Pen’s National Rally can extend its lead in the polls to cement a majority, it would pose a fundamental challenge to European Union leaders — who are gathering in Brussels Monday to discuss how to ramp up the fight against climate change and stiffen their response to Russian aggression.

The process of choosing candidates ended on Sunday and it leaves Macron’s party, Renaissance, under assault from both left and right, and trailing a distant third place in the polls.  

The political uncertainty and increasing likelihood the next government will push through costly measures for public finances spooked investors last week. Government bonds were at the heart of the rout, with the premium that investors demand to own 10-year OATs over German bunds posting the biggest weekly jump on record.

The selloff wiped out $258 billion from the market capitalization of French firms last week. Shares of banks Societe Generale SA, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Agricole SA — all big holders of government debt — lost more than 10% each. The losses allowed the UK to overtake France as the biggest equity market in Europe. Markets calmed on Monday after traders assessed Le Pen’s comments that she’d work with Macron if she won the election. 

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde — a former French finance minister who typically is the go-to name when the country needs to fill a top post domestically — only skirted the topic on Monday, saying officials are being “attentive” to financial market-developments

Earlier on Monday, Philip Lane — the ECB chief economist — was sanguine about the turmoil of the past week, when questioned on the matter at a Reuters event in London. “What we’re seeing in the markets is, of course, a repricing,” he said. “It’s not, you know, the world of disorderly market dynamics.”

Le Pen’s task is being made easier by the increasing radicalization of part of the French left and by the uncomfortable alliance among groups ranging from the far-left France Unbowed to the more moderate Socialists. That could undermine the so-called republican front, under which mainstream parties would always join forces to defeat the far right.

Macron’s political group has decided not to field candidates in 65 electoral districts so as to clear the way for other parties with a better chance of barring the road to the far right and a new leftist alliance, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said on Monday. In particular, they won’t field a candidate against the former Socialist President Francois Hollande, who is running in his historic constituency of Correze.  

The main parties on the French left have leapfrogged Macron’s party in the polls by forging a fragile alliance of parties centered on Melenchon, the charismatic leader of the far-left group France Unbowed. Their campaign pledges, unveiled last week, would rip up Macron’s legacy of economic reforms and set the country on course for a collision with the European Union over fiscal policy. 

Add in Melenchon’s history of using anti-semitic tropes and that means that voting for the New Popular Front is beyond the pale for many centrists. 

Even Macron has refused to say for whom he would vote if he had to choose between Le Pen and Melenchon. His former government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire said Sunday that she would abstain.

“I can’t vote for a man who describes the situation of anti-Semitism in France as residual,” Grégoire told RTL on Sunday. “It’s beyond me, it’s not possible.” 

Allegations of anti-semitism have hung over Melenchon since 2013, when he accused the Socialist economy minister, Pierre Moscovici, of not “thinking French,” but “international finance,” evoking the cliche of the Jewish banker. Melenchon said at the time that he wasn’t aware that Moscovici was Jewish.

Serge Klarsfeld, a Jewish historian known for his fight to hold Nazis to account, told LCI on Saturday that he would vote for Le Pen’s movement over Melenchon’s, saying it had “anti-Semitic overtones and violent anti-Zionism.”

To be sure, the New Popular Front is a fragile alliance and its members have papered over a number of deep-rooted differences in an effort to avoid fragmenting the left-wing vote, so it could still be undermined by public infighting in the two weeks until the first round of voting. 

On Sunday, in an effort to stabilize the alliance, Melenchon said that he’s prepared to let someone else become prime minister if the New Popular Front wins a majority. A Melenchon protege who had previously been convicted for domestic violence also withdrew from the election on Sunday following a backlash from other parties in the alliance. 

As the campaign shifts up a gear on Monday, Le Pen and her allies are trying to capitalize on that development by reaching out to mainstream voters by insisting they can be trusted on the economy. 

“I’ll restore order in the streets and in the public accounts,” National Rally leader Jordan Bardella told France 3 television. Le Pen has said that Bardella will be prime minister if she can form a majority. 

The National Rally is already on track to become the biggest party in the lower house, according to projections by polling companies, a prospect which has caused alarm among investors, France’s international partners and a section of the French public. 

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across France on Saturday to oppose Le Pen’s stance on human rights, the environment and the economy. 

The National Rally hasn’t yet set out its policy proposals in detail but it has said it would slash sales taxes on fuel and energy at a cost of about €20 billion ($21 billion) and pledged to take back control of energy policy from the EU. It has also promised to lower the retirement age to 60 and increase wages for some public servants. 

“Financial markets don’t really understand the National Rally’s project,” Le Pen told Le Figaro. “They have only heard the caricature of our project. When they read about it, they find it rather reasonable.”

--With assistance from Farah Elbahrawy, William Horobin and James Regan.

(Updates with Lagarde comment in the 11th paragraph.)

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