12 days to win the battle for the Elysee





The first ballot of the French presidential elections gave victory to Emmanuel Macronthat the faces will be seen again with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen next April 24 in a second round that, according to the polls, it will be much closer than in 2017, when Macron garnered more than 66% of the vote. This time, the first Ipsos measurements place the current Head of State with the 54% of the votes, compared to 46% for the National Grouping candidateso the ability of both candidates to mobilize voters who have not voted for them can be decisive.

Macron is no longer the disruptive candidate he was five years ago and comes to these elections after a mandate marked by the protests of the yellow vests and a deep economic crisis aggravated in recent months. In addition, the campaign is marked by a moderation of the speech of the leader of the National Association that can harm the current president in his call for a useful vote to curb a far right that no longer scares French society so much. Macron has two weeks to beat Le Pen’s party, which has slipped into the second round of a presidential election for the third time.

General results




Macron

27.8%

9,785,578 votes



24% (2017)




Le Pen

23.2%

8,136,369 votes



21.3% (2017)




melenchon

22%

7,714,949 votes



19.5% (2017)




zemour

7%

2,485,935 votes



% (2017)




Pecresse

4.8%

1,679,470 votes



20% (2017)




Gentleman




Jadot




Poutou

“This 2022 election looks a lot like 2017, but with a fundamental change. Emmanuel Macron was a disruptive, new and reformist candidate in 2017; now is an outgoing president that he has behind him a government that some see positively and others much more critically, ”explains Benoït Pellistrandi, French historian and Hispanist on Canal 24 Horas. “It can be turned into a pro or anti Macron referendum and this is what we will see in these 15 days of campaign that await us”.

Economic and social issues will mark the campaign

No issue worries the French population more than its own economy. In the current context of uncertainty, 58% of the French consider purchasing power as the most important factor when directing their vote. This may benefit Le Pen’s speech, which made this issue his banner in the campaign for the first round, withdrawing from other issues such as immigration or security.

Far from harming her, the appearance of the far-right Éric Zemmour has helped Le Pen to show up as a more moderate option. “He has taken the opportunity to insist on economic and social issues and leave immigration and security to Zemmour. This in a context of war, high inflation and rising energy prices, it has helped him a lot”, explains Eulalia Rubio, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris, to RNE.

“The debate in the second round is going to be very economical and very social. The inflation has skyrocketed again and people have difficulty making ends meet”, explains Pellistrandi. The current president, he points out, will have to defend the balance of a mandate “not quite brilliant”. The president has reaped “some pretty good economic figures, the companies have tremendous results, but in the pocket of the voter this has not been fully noticed. There is a social unrest and a feeling of inequality that has grown during his tenure.”

Le Pen could therefore take the lead on economic and social matters, but be less favored in diplomatic questions and European affairs. Regarding the war in the Ukraine, Marine Le Pen tried to downplay her good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin in her campaign, while Macron has tried to portray himself as a statesman and has been the most visible European leader in the attempt at mediation and dialogue.

Pellistrandi also raises another line of confrontation between the two candidates: the choice of the type of society “we want, an open and progressive one or a more traditional and conservative one.”

The issue of immigration could also have a place in the campaign debate. “Social fraud, the economic cost of protecting foreigners, could favor Le Pen unless Macron picks up these issues,” says Pellistrandi. However, even though the president “He knows how to skirt left and right”, has to get that voters of candidates like Mélenchon want to vote for him. “You need to provide content for this regrouping of all those who do not want the extreme right of Marine Le Pen.”

In addition, both candidates put forward very different proposals as regards the retirement of the French. While Macron launched the controversial proposal to delay the retirement age of workers at 65 yearsMarine Le Pen bets on the opposite: advance it to 60 for those who have started contributing between the ages of 17 and 20 and keep it at 62 for those who have contributed after 21.

Marine Le Pen, the favorite of the working class

In the midst of the energy crisis in Europe Le Pen proposes What “urgent measure” lower VAT on energy from 20% to 5%, focusing above all on mitigating the impact on the poorest households. Meanwhile, despite the fact that at his main rally he recalled that his government had invested “20,000 million euros” to mitigate gas prices, Emmanuel Macron is seen as the candidate of the elitesand placed in the first round as the most voted option among the upper classes.

In the first round, one out of every three votes of the most educated population went to Macron, while those citizens without studies opt for the candidate of the National Association. As in the 2017 elections, Macron has attracted the vote of voters with incomes above €3,000 per month and retirees. The working class and wage earners in general, with incomes below €2,000, prefer Le Pen.

“Marine Le Pen has sold herself as the candidate of the ‘pouvoir d’achat’ and of the popular classes”Rubio explains. The victory of Le Pen, who has obtained the best results of his party in a first round, is also due “to Macron’s failure by not knowing how to reach this segment of the population and not knowing how to get rid of his reinforced image as a candidate of the elites, the rich and the banks”.

“The results in Paris, where Macron has a large majority, show that he has the vote of those we could call ‘insiders’, those who are within society and are comfortable, while Marine Le Pen has the vote of the ‘outsiders’, those who feel marginalized or on the way to marginalization”, argues Pellistrandi. In fact, in an attempt to capture votes in areas more attracted to Le Pen’s project, Emmanuel Macron has started his campaign in several northern cities hard hit by deindustrialization where the candidate of the National Group was the most voted on Sunday.

Macron, to the conquest of the left and against abstention

The radical left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, stood in third position with 21.95% of the votes, just over a point behind Marine Le Pen. The candidate for La Francia Insumisa did not directly urge his voters to opt for Macron, but he did insist on not giving him “not a single vote for Mrs Le Pen”. Attract your electorate, the most numerous if we compare it with that of the rest of the candidates, it seems key to win.

“I think that from now on we will see a Macron who will give more gestures to the left, who will try to convince, and who will not only stay in this discourse of fear of the extreme right, because it doesn’t work as much anymore”, exposes Rubio. The current president will therefore seek a vote in his favor and not only against Le Pen.

“The question is in what is that 20% of Mélenchon’s votes going to do, how they are going to be distributed, how much they are going to vote for and to what extent they are going to vote for Macron knowing that Mélenchon, unlike Pecrésse, Hidalgo or Jadot, has not given a voting slogan for Macron”, Federico Vacas explains to RNE. Opinion and Policy Director of Ipsos France. Melénchon has only said not to vote for Le Pen, which could open the door to abstention.

In the first round, abstention stood at 26%, four points above the 2017 figure and the highest since 2002. Although participation usually increases in the second round, in 2017 the reverse occurred. “We will probably see high abstention again and surely higher than in 2017, because a part of the radical left electorate is not willing to accompany Macron again after five years of government”, argues Vacas.

A low turnout could be explained by two factors. On the one hand, the five years of Macron’s government make it difficult for the sectors most dissatisfied with his administration to go to the polls to support him. On the other hand, as Vacas explains, Marine Le Pen scares French society less than five years ago. The moderation of his speech and his emphasis on economic and social issues can play in favor of abstention and favor Le Pen in a second round.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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