Presidential in France: the battle hardens between Macron and Le Pen

The favorites of the first round of the French presidential election, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, face off from a distance on Wednesday in the media as their gap in the polls narrows to a trickle.

• Read also: After Trump in the United States, Zemmour in France?

• Read also: An unusual election

Four days before the election, Mr. Macron, who entered the campaign late, and his rival must participate in a program on Wednesday evening on the TF1 channel entitled “10 minutes to convince”. They will be in turn questioned about the first hundred days of their presidency, if they are elected on April 24, and their first decisions.

The poll is struggling to interest voters: record abstention – around 30% according to some polls – hovers over this presidential election.

Although largely taken into the background with the war in Ukraine, the election, which engages 12 candidates, nevertheless involves crucial issues, both nationally and internationally, France remaining a heavyweight in the European Union, which it chairs currently.

Faced with a split left, a sluggish right, the polls have been suggesting for weeks a qualification in the first round of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

The candidate of the Rassemblement national (RN), who has smoothed her image and watered down certain proposals without changing the substance of her project on immigration, is steadily increasing in voting intentions, reaching 21.5%, with an acceleration in home stretch (+4 points in two weeks), according to an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll published on Wednesday.

She is five points behind Mr. Macron (who stands at 26.5%), but far ahead of the radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, also on the rise (16%).

“Complacency” with Russia

Mr. Macron benefited with the war in Ukraine from the “flag effect” which took him in the first round to more than 30% in the polls three weeks ago, where he appeared arch-favorite in the second.

But now its rating has shrunk to the first, and the gap to the second with Marine Le Pen has narrowed according to opinion polls published on Tuesday: 56% against 44% for Ipsos Sopra-Steria and 53% against 47% , according to Elabe.

In this context, Mr. Macron has launched an offensive against Mrs. Le Pen in recent days, positioning himself as a bulwark against extremes and emphasizing his European fiber.

He also denounced “the complacency vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin” of certain candidates, without naming them.

Far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, as well as Jean-Luc Mélenchon have been criticized for their pro-Russian positions.

Often accused of being the president of the rich, Emmanuel Macron faces a lively controversy, caused by the recourse of the public authorities to expensive services from private consulting firms, in particular from the American McKinsey.

French justice opened a preliminary investigation on March 31 for aggravated money laundering of tax evasion after a report by the Senate on the influence of these firms on public policy.

– McKinsey case – The Senate commission of inquiry assured that the contracts concluded by the State with the consulting firms had “more than doubled” between 2018 and 2021, reaching a record amount of more than one billion euros in 2021.

She also accused the French entities of the McKinsey firm of “tax optimization”, which would have led them to pay no corporate tax between 2011 and 2020.

The oppositions, which repeatedly demanded the opening of an investigation, welcomed Wednesday’s announcement from the national financial prosecutor’s office.

“This consulting firm will pay what it has to pay,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

Wishing to avoid any missteps so as not to break its upward momentum, Ms. Le Pen canceled several events this week. She is preparing for her last big meeting on conquered ground, Thursday in Perpignan (south).

As for the candidate of the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he hopes to interfere in this announced duo, assuring that the scenario of a second round between Mr. Macron and Mrs. Le Pen “will not take place”.

Leave a Comment