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France faces decisive vote with Macron as favorite in polls

Demonstrators against the extreme right, before a graffiti rejecting the two candidates in Nantes. / afp

48 million voters are called to the polls today to decide whether to keep the current president or elect the far-right Le Pen

Two names on the ballots. Two opposing visions of France, Europe and the world. Some 48.7 million French are called this Sunday to the polls to elect their president for the next five years. In this second round of the French presidential elections, more is at stake than the victory of the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron or the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The first, which starts as the favorite according to all the polls, considers these elections as “a referendum on the future of France and Europe.” The “progressives” against the extreme right, summarizes the candidate of La República en Marcha. “It will be a choice of society and civilization,” says Le Pen. The far-right, who defends “a national and popular project”, sees the elections in terms of “world champions” against “patriots” and of the “people” against “the caste”.

The French go to the polls after a strange electoral campaign, overshadowed by the war in Ukraine and which has not particularly excited voters. To this, without a doubt, the fact that the two finalists are the same as in 2017 has contributed. Then Macron defeated Le Pen by obtaining 66.10% of the votes, compared to 33.9% of support for the far-right . Now, the National Regrouping candidate is looking for revenge.

The daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, historical leader of the extreme right and founder of the National Front, has tried in recent years to whiten the image of her party to make it more presentable to the electorate and establish herself as a credible alternative to Macron. She kicked out her father and the most radical members of the party, changed the name of the formation, softened her speech, hid anti-Semitism under the rug and took care of the language.

In order not to scare the electorate, Marine Le Pen has focused her campaign on the loss of purchasing power and the difficulties of making ends meet for the French. And she left the issues of immigration and citizen security to the ultra Éric Zemmour, who had more radical positions than her. Next to her, she seemed more moderate, although her program remains on the extreme right. Zemmour was left with 7.07% support in the first electoral round.

The outgoing president waited until the last minute to officially announce his candidacy, very busy with the Ukrainian crisis and the French presidency of the European Union. He did it in March with “a letter to the French” published in the press. His opponent, on the other hand, did it much earlier, in January 2020.

broad political support

Macron, who this Sunday votes together with his wife Brigitte in Le Touquet (north of the country), has achieved the support in this second round of his predecessors in office, the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and the socialist François Hollande, and of the former first ministers Lionel Jospin and Édouard Philippe. Also from other European leaders. like the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Le Pen has the support of the other two far-right candidates eliminated in the first round: Zemmour, the Reconquista candidate, and the eurosceptic Nicolas Dupont-Aigman.

Macron and Le Pen have tried to mobilize their electorate until the last moment and to convince the abstentionists and those who did not support them in the first round, to do so this Sunday. While the head of the Executive tries to mobilize the vote of those who reject the extreme right to be re-elected, Le Pen hopes to take advantage of the inertia of those who perceive the figure of the president exhausted after five years of legislature. In 2017, the centrist leader had the trick of novelty and the illusion of political renewal. He today already accumulates a balance as responsible for a legislature in which he has faced successive crises, such as that of the ‘yellow vests’, and the management of the coronavirus.

Headboard

  • 56.5%
    of voting intention is attributed to Emmanuel Macron in the latest ‘Le Monde’ poll

  • 43.5%
    would be the support obtained by Marine Le Pen at the polls, ten points more than in 2017

The latest polls on Friday – the law prohibits conducting polls during the traditional day of reflection – suggest that the verdict of the polls this Sunday will be less loose than that of the previous elections in 2017. The analysis carried out by Ipsos-Sopra Steria for the ‘Le Monde’ newspaper predicts a vote intention of 56.5% for Macron compared to 43.5% attributed to Le Pen.

Many voters have been “orphaned” in this second round. A total of twelve candidates competed in the first round of the contest and ten were eliminated ahead of the decisive dispute this Sunday. Experts predict that those voters without a candidate will not turn in their ballot out of conviction but out of rejection. In other words, they will not vote for Macron because they believe he should be re-elected first and foremost. Not for Le Pen because they think she should be the next president of France. They will vote for Macron to prevent the extreme right from coming to power or for Le Pen to prevent Macron from continuing in the Elysee.

The fate of the votes of the left and the abstention

The votes most courted by the two candidates for the Presidency of the Republic are those of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leader of La Francia Insumisa (the equivalent of Podemos) obtained 21.95% of the votes in the first round. Although Mélenchon urged his voters not to cast “a single vote for Mrs. Le Pen”; he did not clearly ask for the ballot for the outgoing president.

According to a recent poll, 42% of Mélenchon voters will vote for Macron in the second round, 16% for Le Pen, and 42% will abstain or vote blank.

“Neither Macron nor Le Pen,” many French proclaimed between the two rounds, especially young voters, who will abstain this Sunday because they do not want to have to choose “between plague and anger.” “Neither husband nor boss, neither Marine nor Macron,” read one of the banners that could be seen last weekend at the demonstration against the extreme right in Paris.

Abstention could be around 26% in the second round, according to experts. In 2017, the first time that Macron and Le Pen faced each other at the polls, 25.44% of French people did not go to vote.

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