by Sylvie Corbett
PARIS ( Associated Press) – President Emmanuel Macron is the clear favorite in France’s presidential race, yet a major unknown factor could prove decisive: An unprecedented proportion of people say they are unsure of who to vote for or vote for. is not intended, bringing a huge dose of uncertainty to the election.
The pro-European centrist is still comfortably ahead of 11 other candidates ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting. His main rival, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, has been emerging in recent times. Both are in a good position to reach the runoff on 24 April, which will force them to replay the 2017 election which Macron won easily.
“There is no certainty,” Macron warned during his first major rally on Saturday near Paris.
He told his supporters, “Don’t believe polls or commentators who will seem certain and tell you that … the election is already over, everything is going to be okay.” “From Brexit to so many elections, what seems impossible can happen!”
The scenario for this year’s second round of the vote shows that Le Pen has narrowed the gap with Macron significantly compared to 2017 – when he lost with 34% support for his 66%.
Polls still place him behind Macron, but much closer, apparently showing his rhetoric and knowledge of his long-term strategy to soften the image – helping him capture the anti-Macron vote as well as far-right support. allows for.
In recent days, Macron’s campaign has also hit a speed bump called the “McKinsey Affair”, named after a US consulting company that advises the French government on its COVID-19 vaccination campaign and other policies. hired to deliver. A new French Senate report questions the government’s use of private advisers and accused McKinsey of tax evasion. Financial prosecutors announced Wednesday that a preliminary investigation into suspected tax fraud has been opened.
The issue is energizing Macron’s rivals and harassing them during the campaign.
Many in Macron’s camp fear that his supporters cannot go to the polling booths because they already think he will win, while those angry with his policies will make sure to vote.
“Of course I’m worried,” said 28-year-old member of Macron’s party, Julian Deskamps.
“They don’t completely agree with Macron, but if they reject the extremes, they should vote for him,” he said.
Macron called on voters to mobilize against France’s both far-right and far-left. “Don’t boo them, fight their thoughts,” he said.
In third place according to polls is the far-right Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has extended his support but is still some distance from Le Pen. Another far-right candidate, Eric Zemor, and conservative contender Valerie Pecres are among the other major challengers. The top two candidates in Sunday’s first round will qualify for the runoff.
The presidential election is the one that most appeals to the French electorate.
Yet turnout has dropped from 84% in 2007 to about 78% in 2017, and studies suggest dieting may be higher than it was five years ago. In particular, younger and working-class people appear less certain to go to the polls than retirees and upper-class voters.
Pollsters say a low turnout can have a big impact on the vote. He notes that a vast majority of people do not yet know who they will vote for – or whether or not they will vote.
Similar is the case with Lisa Garnier, a 45-year-old managing assistant living in the wealthy suburb of Montmorency, north of Paris.
“I don’t believe what politicians say anymore. They make a lot of promises, they speak of candidates, and once we come to power, we are disappointed,” she said. “I think more and more people think it’s useless: Voting for what? For what?”
Garnier believes that politicians are far from the reality of French daily life. She said she could take only one blank vote, even though Macron faces Le Pen in the second round.
“I want to show that I’m not happy with it,” she said.
The sinking purchasing power of French households is among voters’ top concerns amid rising food and energy prices, along with social payments, security, immigration and the environment. But many believe these issues should not have been given as much attention in this year’s campaign, partly because the war in Ukraine is overwhelming all other issues.
Kevin, a 26-year-old teacher of history and geography at a public middle school working in a poor suburb north of Paris, denounced the campaign’s lack of political debate. Describing himself as a “leftist”, he said he felt “very disillusioned” with the current French political landscape.
Kevin, who cannot be identified by his last name because state employees are required to remain neutral before the election, said he was still hesitant. But in any case, he will not vote for Macron or Le Pen, and considers a blank vote an option.
Macron, who has recently devoted much of his time to diplomatic talks trying to end the war in Ukraine, is trying to boost his short campaign ahead of Sunday’s vote, giving several interviews to French media. and are putting campaign activities on their agenda almost every day. ,
“Guys, you get it: it’s time to mobilize. Now is the time to fight,” he told supporters on Saturday.
Follow Associated Press’s France election coverage https://apnews.com/hub/french-election-2022