Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen face off for French presidency

Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen face off for French presidency

Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron has won the first round of the French election and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen will fight him for the presidency in the second and final round.

Though Macron won the first round convincingly, opinion polls suggest that the second round will be much closer, according to BBC.

The top two

In the first round, centrist Macron garnered 27.6 per cent of votes, far-right Le Pen got 23.41 per cent and far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon was third with 21.95 per cent votes. Twelve candidates were in the running, but these were the only three who polled more than 10 per cent. Voters seemed to have voted tactically, reports BBC, as they saw no hope of the other nine making the run-off. Under the French system only the top two progress to the final round.

The 2022 presidential election will be also remembered for the downfall of the two major parties — the Republicans and Socialists — that ruled France for best part of the country’s democratic history. While Socialist Anne Hidalgo fell below 2 per cent, Republican Valérie Pécresse could not even scrape the 5 per cent needed to claim election costs, reports BBC.

A renewed battle for votes is under way. Marine Le Pen can count on supporters of Eric Zemmour, whose more hardline nationalism won him fourth place and 7 per cent. Nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan also backed her. That means she can already count on an impressive 33 per cent of the entire vote.

Macron, on the other hand, is likely to get the socialist and left votes that had mostly gone to Mélenchon. Making up more than a fifth of the vote, Mélenchon voters could decide the final round of this election, yet many of them may just sit the second round out and abstain, reports BBC.

Macron plans rallies

Macron’s team is now planning a series of big rallies and major TV appearances. Addressing his supporters, Macron looked a relieved man and he promised to work harder than in the first part of the campaign, according to BBC. Le Pen said it was time for a “great changeover”, with a fundamental choice on April 24 of two opposite views.

The campaign was listless till the final fortnight because of Covid and later the war in Ukraine. But the voter turnout was a good 75 per cent. One in four young voters backed the president, although more than one in three 18-24 year-olds opted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, BBC quoted Elabe pollsters. Marine Le Pen performed best among 35-64 year-olds, while the president was favoured by over-65s.

According to BBC, the truth is that the anti-Le Pen vote and the anti-Macron vote are converging; the first going down and the second going up. Which is why this time, round two is not going to be the same walkover as it was last time.

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