Monday, September 26, 2022

In France, it’s Macron vs. Le Pen, again, for the presidency.

PARIS ( Associated Press) — Incumbent Emmanuel Macron will face right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen in a winner-takes-all runoff for the French presidency when they both set up another major in the first round of voting in the country’s election on Sunday. Proceed to His sharply opposing viewpoints for France came face to face.

But while Macron did not succeed by a landslide to become France’s youngest president in 2017, the same result this time is far from guaranteed. Macron, now 44, went ahead of Sunday’s first round, but the runoff is essentially a new election and the next two weeks of campaigning for the second round of the vote on April 24 are likely to result in hurt and confrontation against his 53-year-old political nemesis. has been promised. ,

Savior and more refined, making her third attempt to become France’s first female president, Le Pen was rewarded at the ballot on Sunday for her years-long effort to rebrand herself as more pragmatic and less extreme Was. Macron has accused Le Pen of pushing an extremist manifesto of racist, destructive policies. Le Pen wants to take back some rights for Muslims, ban them from wearing headscarves in public and significantly reduce immigration from outside Europe.

On Sunday, she racked up her best first round of votes. With the majority of the votes counted, Macron had 27% and Le Pen had over 24%. Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon was in third place, close to 21% by a run-off of two-candidates.

Macron also improved on his first-round performance in 2017, despite his presidency being rocked by an almost unbelievable series of crises, both domestic and international. These include Russia’s war in Ukraine which affected the election and diverted attention from the campaign.

With Polling suggesting that the runoff against Le Pen could be close, Macron immediately began throwing his energy into the fight.

Addressing supporters on Sunday night, who chanted “five more years”, Macron warned that “nothing has been done” and said the runoff campaign would be “decisive for our country and Europe”.

Claiming that Le Pen would endow France with a “populist and xenophobe”, he added: “It’s not us.”

“I want to reach out to all those who want to work for France,” he said. He vowed to implement the “Project of Progress, the French and European openness and freedom we have advocated.”

The election result will have wide-ranging international ramifications as Europe struggles to contain the havoc wreaked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Macron has strongly supported EU sanctions on Russia, while Le Pen is concerned about their impact on France’s standard of living. Macron is also a strong supporter of NATO and maintains close cooperation among the 27 members of the European Union.

Macron looked like a shoo-in for months, becoming the first French president to win a second term in 20 years. But national rally leader Le Pen, in a boom of late, tapped into the most important issue on the minds of many French voters: rising costs of food, gas and heating due to rising inflation and the impact of Western sanctions on Russia.

To win in the second round, both Macron and Le Pen now need to reach voters who supported the 10 presidential candidates defeated on Sunday.

For some of the loser’s disappointed supporters, the runoff vote promises to be painful. Melenchon voter Jennings Tangli, a 21-year-old English student at the Sorbonne University in Paris, said the second-round match was a terrifying prospect for her, a choice “between the plague and cholera”.

She described Macron’s presidency as “disgraceful” but said she would vote for him in the second round to keep Le Pen away from the Elysee Palace.

“It would be a live vote rather than a vote from my heart,” she said.

Supporters of Le Pen celebrated with champagne and chanted “We’re going to win!” It sought to reach left-wing supporters for a second round by promising reforms for “a France that broke”.

She said the second round presents voters “with a fundamental choice between two opposing viewpoints of the future: either division, injustice and disorder for the benefit of the few by Emmanuel Macron, or social justice and security around the French people.” to unite.”

Some of his defeated rivals were so concerned with the prospect of Le Pen defeating Macron that he urged his supporters on Sunday to transfer their second round of votes to the ruling party. Addressing the sometimes tearful supporters, Mélenchon repeatedly said: “We must not give one vote to Mrs. Le Pen.”

Describing himself as “deeply concerned”, the defeated Conservative candidate Valerie Pecrese warned of “causing chaos” if Le Pen is elected, saying the far-right leader has never been so close to power. Pecracy said she would vote for Macron in the runoff.

To defeat Le Pen, Macron will aim to set aside his attempt at rebranding as a less dangerous political force, a change that has also highlighted his love for cats.

His soft image has won the hearts of some voters, but made others even more suspicious.

Yves Mallot, a retired engineer, said he had voted for Macron only to balance Le Pen. He said he feared his long-standing animosity for the European Union could see him try to get France out of the bloc, even though he had omitted it from his manifesto.

“I don’t think she has changed at all,” he said. “It’s the same thing, but with cats.”

Associated Press journalist Thomas Adamson. Elaine Gainely and Patrick Hermansen contributed to this report.

Follow all Associated Press stories on the French presidential election

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