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France’s Macron steps up campaign against Le Pen

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  • Post last modified:12/04/2022
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PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron embarked Monday on a final fortnight of campaigning against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen for a French presidential run-off shaping up to be a much closer fight than their contest five years ago.

Macron came out on top in Sunday’s first round of voting with 27.85 percent, with Le Pen second at 23.15 percent. As the top two finishers, they advance to a second round on April 24.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon came close, after a late surge gave him a score of just under 22 percent.

The Macron-Le Pen duel is a replay of the 2017 election final from which Macron emerged victorious with 66 percent. This time however, polls suggest it will be a closer contest.

Making an aggressive start to the next phase of the campaign, Macron spent hours meeting voters in Denain, a former steel town in northern France where he finished third on Sunday behind Le Pen and Melenchon.

“I’m not going to pretend nothing happened, I have heard the message from those who voted for the extremes, including those who voted for Mrs Le Pen,” Macron told a scrum of journalists who followed him.

“I realise that people will vote for me to stop her, but I want to convince people. So I may possibly round out my project” with more social welfare measures, he said.

Emmanuel Macron won 27.85 percent of votes in the first round of France’s presidential election, while far-right veteran Marine Le Pen scored 23.15 percent, according to final results from the interior ministry on Monday.

The results allow both to advance to a run-off, while far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon came in third at 21.95 percent, knocking him out of the first round but still a higher score than many polls had predicted.

Analysts say his electorate will be key for determining how Macron and Le Pen will fare in the second round on April 24.

Among the nine other candidates only one scored above five percent, the upstart far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour, who obtained 7.07 percent and has called on his voters to support Le Pen.

Next was Valerie Pecresse of the conservative Republicans at 4.78 percent, below the five percent threshold for having campaign spending largely reimbursed by the state.

On Monday, she issued an emergency plea for donations to ensure her party’s survival, saying she personally had racked up campaign debt of five million euros ($5.5 million).

Greens candidate Yannick Jadot got 4.63 percent, ruralist outsider Jean Lasalle got 3.13 percent, Communist Fabien Roussel got 2.28 percent, and far-right sovereigntist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan got 2.06 percent.

Socialist Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, scored just 1.75 percent, while anti-capitalists Philippe Poutou won 0.77 percent and Nathalie Arthaud came in last at 0.56 percent.

Turnout reached 73.69 percent, resulting in abstentions of 26.31 percent – up four percentage points from the abstentions of 22.2 percent in the first round of 2017, which also saw Macron and Le Pen advance to the run-off. | YouTube Channel

Sania Jamali

Sania Jamali, who studied Media in UAE, is associated with since its inception (2015) mostly reporting International Politics.