French Presidential | Hesitant French people at the polls for the first round

(Paris) French people who were often hesitant until the last moment voted on Sunday for the first round of a presidential election with an uncertain outcome, even if the reissue of the duel between the outgoing Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the far right Marine Le Pen is the preferred scenario.

Posted at 10:11 a.m.
Updated at 11:09 a.m.

By the political pole of the AFP with the regional offices
France Media Agency

Turnout stood at 65% at 3 p.m. GMT, down 4.4 points from the 2017 election (69.42%), according to the Interior Ministry. However, this figure is 6.5 points higher than in 2002 (58.45%), a record year for abstention in the first round of presidential elections.

The doubts and indecision of the voters, and this turnout, weigh on the outcome of the ballot. According to initial estimates, the final abstention rate is estimated at between 24% and 26.5%.

On this sunny Sunday, some 48.7 million voters must choose between twelve candidates, at the end of an unprecedented campaign, marked first by the coronavirus pandemic then the Russian invasion in Ukraine which obscured part of the debate.

In a polling station in Marseille (south), a 55-year-old voter, Françoise Reynaud, explains that she decided at the last moment: “Of the 12, I had selected four last night, and I decided this morning. “.

Photo Daniel Cole, Associated Press

On this sunny Sunday, some 48.7 million voters have to choose between twelve candidates.

The first estimates will be known at 8 p.m. (6 p.m. GMT) after the last offices close.

Polls have predicted for weeks that Mr. Macron should come out on top, ahead of Le Pen, as in the previous election in 2017, with the candidate of the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon in third position.

Mme Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon have very different positions from Mr. Macron on several international issues, being much more hostile to European integration and saying they want to get out of NATO’s integrated command.

Photo THIBAULT CAMUS, Agence France-Presse

Outgoing President Emmanuel Macron

In Pantin, in the Paris region, Blandine Lehout, a 32-year-old actress, explains that she will not vote: “it’s the first time in my life”, “but there I hate them all. We are at a stage where they scare me, ”she explains.

purchasing power

Others, on the contrary, insist on the urgent need to vote.

Like Pascale Sylvestre-Baron, in Toulouse (south-west): “We have always voted, and we force our children to vote, otherwise we disinherit them! “, Launches the sexagenarian laughing, before saying “very worried about the rate of abstention”.

Or like Ali Msaidie, of Comorian origin, in Marseille: “I fought for so many years to be naturalized, to have French nationality. This is the first time that I can vote for a presidential election, it is so important for me to be able to be one of those who choose! “, he launches.

Various studies show that Mme Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon have been on a path of progress for several days, substantially reducing the gap with the outgoing president, who entered the campaign late.


Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate of the National Rally

Behind this trio, the other candidates seem off the hook, in particular that of the traditional right Valérie Pécresse and the other far-right contender Eric Zemmour.

For the second round, the polls give Mr. Macron the winner, but with a very narrow lead over Le Pen whose victory is however not excluded, which would constitute a double first in France, with the arrival of a woman and the extreme right in power.

This first round puts an end to a campaign whose major issues, in particular climate change, were absent. Purchasing power is the main concern of voters, especially since the war in Ukraine has caused significant inflation.

Mme Le Pen has focused his campaign on this theme, as has Mr. Mélenchon, whose party calls for a “useful” vote in his favor, rather than for the benefit of the many other left-wing candidates, such as the ecologist Yannick Jadot, the socialist Anne Hidalgo or the communist Fabien Roussel.

No more “republican front”?

Faced with the possibility of a victory for the far right, some candidates have already announced the position they will adopt on Sunday evening, such as Fabien Roussel who will block Mme The pen. Valérie Pécresse will not give instructions, but will say for whom she will vote.

In the entourage of Mr. Macron, it is admitted that the reflex of the “republican front”, which he had benefited from when he was elected in 2017, is no longer obvious.

Data finished after its failure five years ago, worried by the eruption of the polemicist Eric Zemmour, Mme Le Pen has recovered, smoothed his image and his speech, and led a long campaign in the field.

Mr. Macron, for his part, played on his image as commander-in-chief monopolized by the health and international crises. A posture which first served him, but which then made him appear disconnected from the daily concerns of the French. His image has also been affected by his refusal to engage in televised debates against his opponents.

He gave a boost at the end of the week, with several interviews and trips, and called for “mobilization” against a “trivialized” extreme right.

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