Two politicians including an ex-minister have left France’s mainstream centre-right Les Republicains (LR) party to join far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) ahead of May’s European Parliament elections. Thierry Mariani, Minister of Transport in the Sarkozy administration, and Jean-Paul Garraud have joined the former National Front after Le Pen dropped her demand for France to quit the EU. The new year has brought more bad news for French President Emmanuel Macron who over the past four months has faced the most severe challenges of his presidency -- the so-called “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests. In May 2017, Macron was elected with 66.1 per cent of the votes. Now, 20-months later, he has the approval of only 22 per cent of the population, according to a survey carried out by Odoxa and Dentsu Consulting for France info and the Figaro newspaper.