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Monday, December 05, 2022

Macron vs Le Pen: The runoff of the French president explained

France’s presidential election will be a rematch of the 2017 contest, when far-right Marine Le Pen faced political newcomer Emmanuel Macron.

Macron won that race by about one to two votes.

But while the candidates remain the same, the 2022 race is turning out to be a very different matter.

Here’s everything you need to know.

How does the election work?

To elect their new president, French voters participate in elections twice.

In the first vote held on Sunday, 12 candidates ran against each other. He qualified for the race by garnering support from 500 mayors and/or local councilors across the country.

Macron and Le Pen received the most votes, but since neither won more than 50%, they would be headed for a runoff on Sunday, April 24.

This isn’t the only national vote facing France this year – parliamentary elections are also due in June.

What dates do I need to know?

Macron and Le Pen will hold a debate on the evening of 20 April, which will be broadcast by French broadcasters France 2 and TF1.

This will be followed by a runoff election on Sunday 24 April.

Candidates are not allowed to campaign the day before the vote or on the day of the election itself, and the media will be subject to strict reporting restrictions from the day before the election until voting closes at 8 p.m. Sunday in France.

What do polls show?

A very close contest compared to the 2017 election.

Macron and Le Pen both increased their total share of the vote in the first round of this year compared to 2017, but polls before the first round on April 10 showed Le Pen’s support late in March.

Polls released on April 10 by Ifop-fiducial showed Macron would win only 51% to 49% in a second-round contest against Le Pen. Macron’s advantage has increased in the days since the first round of results, but two weeks is a long time in politics – and a lot can change between now and election day.

Political analysts often say that the French vote with their heart in the first round, then vote with their head in the second round – meaning they choose their ideal candidate first, then the second round with at least two evils. choose to.

Macron saw the game in 2017. He and Le Pen won 24% and 21.3% respectively in the first round, and then 66.1% and 33.9% of the vote in the second round.

To be re-elected, Macron would need to persuade supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon to support him. Mélancheon came third with 22 percent of the vote. On Sunday, Mélenchon told his supporters, “We should not give a single vote to Mrs. Le Pen,” but did not explicitly support Macron.

Most of the losing candidates urged their supporters to back Macron in order to prevent the far right from winning the presidency.

Right-wing former TV pundit Eric Zemor, known for his provocative rhetoric, urged his supporters to support Le Pen.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon casts his vote on Sunday.

What are the French people expecting?

expected.

In early 2022, the election was seen as an important referendum on the growing popularity of France. It’s been 20 years since a French president was re-elected, so the vote was becoming one of the country’s most-watched political races in decades.

Then Russia invaded Ukraine.

With Europe’s eyes on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody war, priorities have changed rapidly: ammunition stockpiles, high-stakes diplomacy and even the threat of a nuclear attack have all entered national debate. Huh.

Macron assumed the role of Europe’s politician, taking him off the campaign trail, while Le Pen was forced to back down from his previous support for Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin in Moscow on March 24, 2017.

What else has changed in the last five years?

The political landscape of France, for one.

Macron’s election effectively blew up the traditional center of French politics. In previous years, many of his voters flocked to the traditional centre-left and centre-right parties, Socialists and Republicans.

But Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist candidate, and Valerie Pecrese, the Republican nominee, failed to persuade voters to drop the centrist candidate already in office. Both polled less than 5% in the first round.

What else do I need to know about Macro and Le Pen?

Emmanuel Macron is an ex-investment banker and alumnus of some of the most elite schools in France. He was a political novice before becoming president, and this is only the second political election he has ever stood for.

But he’s no longer an upstart and must continue on a mixed record.

His ambitious plan to raise EU autonomy and geopolitical height has earned him respect abroad and at home, whether for his efforts to win over Donald Trump or stall the AUKUS submarine deal and avert war in Ukraine. Failed diplomatic efforts can be considered. failures

Macron’s domestic policies are more divisive and less popular. His handling of the yellow vest movement, one of France’s longest protests in decades, was widely banned, and his record on the COVID-19 pandemic is inconclusive.

Macron’s signature policy during the crisis – which requires people to show proof of vaccination to go about their lives normally – helped raise vaccination rates but drove a vocal minority against his presidency.

Before the first round of this election, Macron refused to debate his opponents, and he hardly campaigned himself. While his pole position in the race has never really been under threat, experts agree that his strategy is to focus on his image as the most presidential of all candidates for as long as possible in political turmoil. is to avoid.

Marine Le Pen The French are the most recognizable figure of the Far South. She is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front, the predecessor of Le Pen’s current political party.

The young Le Pen has attempted to rebrand the party, as it has long been seen as racist and anti-Semitic.

This is his third shot in the Presidency. This year and in 2017, she surpassed her father in the first round of votes.

In 2017, Le Pen campaigned as France’s answer to Trump: a right-leaning firebrand that vowed to protect France’s forgotten working class from immigrants, globalization, and technology that is rendering their jobs obsolete. Was.

Since then, it has dropped some of its most controversial policy proposals, such as leaving the European Union.

But overall, her economic nationalist stance, views on immigration, skepticism of Europe and the position on Islam in France – she wants to make it illegal for women to wear head scarves in public – have not changed. “Preventing uncontrolled immigration” and “elimination of Islamic ideologies” are the two priorities of his manifesto.

However, Le Pen has attempted to soften his tone in the wake of Brexit, particularly around Islam and the European Union.

Instead, she has campaigned harder on issues of pocketbook, which she claims will put 150 euros to 200 euros ($162 to $216) into each household’s coffers, pledging to remove sales tax from 100 household items. also includes.

The strategy seems to have worked.

Le Pen’s performance in the first round of the 2022 presidential election was his best result in the race three times.

What are the biggest issues for French voters?

The cost of living is one of the top issues for French voters this year. Faced with economic fallout from the pandemic, high energy prices and the war in Ukraine, voters are feeling the pinch, despite generous government support.

While financial pressures may be insufficient to whitewash the extremism of some candidates in the minds of voters, they may prompt some to seek unconventional answers to their problems.

Fighting in Ukraine is far from France’s bistros and cafes, but the conflict is definitely on the minds of voters. According to Ifop, just 90% of the French were concerned about the war in the last week of March. Given the poor record of his challengers taking a stand against Putin, this has probably played in Macron’s favor so far.

Notably absent from the first round of debate was the environmental crisis. Although the importance of climate protection is gaining traction globally, it is not a concern in France, which received 75% of its electricity needs in 2020 from nuclear power, according to the French environment ministry. Most candidates in the first round supported the kind of nuclear development that Macron has already announced, so there is little difference of opinion on this issue.

However, Macron and Le Pen have disputed wind and solar power. Le Pen argues that both are expensive and inefficient – ​​she also says that wind turbines have spoiled the landscape of the traditional French countryside – so she wants to eliminate subsidies for both. Macron wants to invest more in both technologies.

The Macron and Le Pen campaigns are promising two different visions for the future of France.

Macron has promised to continue moving forward with a globalised, free market-focused France as the head of a powerful EU. Le Pen seeks to end the status quo entirely with protectionist economic policies and improving Paris’ relations with its allies and opponents.

But in the end, the election can easily come down to the candidate France dislikes the least: the president who is widely seen as elitist and out of touch, or the challenger at best with provocative rhetoric on Islam. and is known for supporting authoritarians.

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