Macron, a centurion running for a second five-year term, faces a much tougher race than he did when he defeated Le Pen by more than 30 percentage points in the 2017 presidential election.
Recent voter turnout polls suggest he will now win the second round against him by only four to six percentage points – a reflection of public dissatisfaction with his presidency, public concern about the rising cost of living and Le Pen’s attempt to tarnish his image.
Shortly after the publication of the first round of the French broadcaster Ipsos-Chopra Steria On Sunday night, Le Pen quoted France’s “two opposite visions for the future,” which will be voted on in two more weeks.
He told his supporters that the second round of voting was “the choice of society, the choice of civilization.”
Macron – who addressed a crowd of cheering supporters, waving French and EU flags – said he wanted a France that would be “part of a stronger Europe” and not one that would cause “collapse for all”.
If Le Pen wins the second round, it will mark the first extreme right-wing presidency in French history. It will also elevate politics in Europe – instead of being the most active advocate of EU cooperation, with someone known for anti-EU rhetoric, and providing an official platform for the far right at a time when nationalists in many European countries are struggling.
Some of the French candidates who were defeated on Sunday immediately called on their supporters to vote for Macron to prevent Le Pen’s victory. They include left-wing candidates Fabien Roussel, Anne Hidalgo and Yannick Jadot, but also center-right candidate Valérie Pécresse, whose voters particularly wanted to consider supporting Le Pen.
“Tonight, I am deeply concerned: the far right has never been closer to victory,” said Paris Mayor Hidalgo.
“You should not even give a vote to Madame Le Pen,” M மெlenchon repeated the sentence several times.
In his speech, Macron appeared eager to take advantage of that momentum on Sunday night, thanking rivals across the political spectrum for their campaign efforts, and reaching out to voters who excluded or supported other candidates.
“I want to convince them in the days to come that our plan will provide a more positive response to their fears than the fears of the far right,” he said.
Over the next couple of weeks Macron will be doing more decisive work.
“If you look at the presence of votes, in principle Emmanuel Macron should win,” said Vincent Martini, a political scientist at the University of Nice. “But two-thirds of France did not vote for him. The question is: what can he say to those people?”
“As you can see from the last two weeks, things can move much faster now,” Martini said.
Macron had made good progress in the field of 12 official candidates, but The Evaporation of a stimulus In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with delays in support for Le Pen, there has been uncertainty over whether the centrist politician, who was elected France’s youngest president in 2017, could run for a second term.
Macron performed better than expected on Sunday and performed better than he did in the first round in 2017, when Le Pen’s results were higher than they were five years ago, when he came in 21 percent in the first round.
Six weeks before this election, it was like Le Pen May not even collect enough signatures To get on the ballot. But he portrayed himself as a more moderate person than in the past and campaigned harshly. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he has distanced himself from Russian President Vladimir Putin and changed his tough stance on the exceptional immigration of Ukrainian refugees.
Meanwhile, Macron only held a large campaign rally, did not engage in direct discussions with his rivals and did not deliver any of the big vision speeches he was known for.
While it is not uncommon for French incumbents to avoid the campaign trail, that tactic will not help his reputation in the eyes of people who see him as an elite politician unrelated to the concerns of everyday people.
Macron, as usual, voted in the seaside holiday city on Sunday Docket. Le Pen was waiting in line to vote Henin-BeaumontAn extreme right-wing fort and former coal mining city is particularly affected by industrialization and unemployment.
At a polling station in Paray-Vieille-Poste, a southern suburb of Paris, criticism of Macron’s campaign was echoed by 38-year-old Sabrina Famibelle, who said she voted for Le Pen on Sunday.
“Maybe I changed my mind … I finally said, why not Emmanuel Macron?” Famibelle said both of his parents were from abroad. “But from his point of view, we are not worthy of his attention or trust.”
Macron has also alienated left-wing voters who have opposed the shift to the right on issues such as national security and have been frustrated with his efforts to combat climate change.
Throughout the campaign, Le Pen avoided focusing on his most controversial plans and focused on echoing popular concerns about the economy and inflation. But in their sense, many of Le Pen’s positions are as radical as they were five years ago. Last week, he promised that Muslims who wore headscarves in public would be fined.
The campaign of his main far-right rival, Eric Zemorin, fell into the hands of Le Pen. Gemmor is sometimes an extreme right-wing provocateur Compared to President Donald Trump And has been He was repeatedly convicted of inciting racism.
“He’s very disrespectful,” Le Pen appeared to be relatively moderate to voters, said Vincent Dieberg, a researcher at Science Po Bordeaux. “But she didn’t move,” he said.
Zemmour, who finished fourth with 7 percent on Sunday, called on his supporters to vote for Le Pen in the second round.
The possibility of such a tight flow has stunned some political analysts.
“It amazes me because it’s not very logical,” said Emmanuel Rivier, director of the international referendum at data analytics firm Kantar Public.
A relatively large number of French people said, “43 percent said they believe Emmanuel Macron faces major issues as president.”
Riviere cited weak opposition to the idea of Le Pen as president within certain sections of the electorate and expects the second round to be very close to the “deeply rooted tradition of dismissing French voters as long as we have the opportunity”. In 2017.
At a polling station near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, 57-year-old Eric Darty said he disagreed with Macron’s criticism. He voted for the incumbent because of his “satisfactory record” and said he hoped Macron would continue the reforms he had begun.
But many voters on the left say they are disappointed with Macron and see him as a right-wing change during his tenure. Melanson’s narrow third on Sunday was one of the most visible signs of left – wing frustration with Macron’s policies. The results illustrate the growing divisions in French politics into three camps: the strong far left, the bold far right and the center simulated by Macron.
“Macron is going to try to impress left-wing voters – and he’s in danger of making it look too artificial to upset or annoy left-wing voters,” said Pierre Mathieu, director of Sciences Bo Lill.
The question of how to vote in the second round situation will arise on a large scale in the coming days. Five years ago, Macron’s hometown of Amiens voted overwhelmingly for him, tearing apart left – leaning voters this weekend.
Mary Rawlt, 61, who may not have voted for Macron in the first round, said she could support him in the runoff, but “prevent Le Pen.” He said his final decision would depend on how close the two are on the ballot.
Left-wing voter Claude Watel, 62, said he had already made his choice: he would cast a blank ballot.
He said the “Republican Front” – the electorate that stopped Le Pen in 2017 – was “not too much of an obstacle” in retrospect. “Five years later, the far right is still strong.”
Lenny Bronner in New York contributed to this report.
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