Elections in France: Calls begin for voters to block far-right Le Pen | French presidential election 2022

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France now faces a frantic electoral fortnight after Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential election, with the two remaining candidates trying to convince the country’s voters – many of whom do not support them – that they deserve their vote in a fortnight.

For many of France’s nearly 48 million voters, it will be a difficult time, especially for those on the left of the political spectrum. Many will wonder whether they should choose what they see as the least bad option between centrist Emmanuel Macron or far-right Marine Le Pen, or stay home and not vote at all.

There will be calls to persuade them to vote for Macron in a “republican roadblock” to prevent the far right from entering the Élysée. The term dates from a time when the far right was seen as irrelevant and unrepresentative of the values ​​of the French Republic, but is now being challenged after Le Pen’s efforts to detoxify his National Rally party.

The same calls were heard in 2017, when Macron also took on Le Pen, and in 2002, when Jacques Chirac took on his father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

For supporters of radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the first round, it may be too bitter a pill to swallow.

He told his constituents on Sunday: “We know who we will never vote for. Do not give your votes for Madame Le Pen. We must not give a single voice to Madame Le Pen. But left-leaning voters like Stephane Van Son, 62, a former travel agent from Paris, a former Socialist Party voter turned Mélenchon supporter, were left politically orphaned by Sunday’s result. “It’s terrible. I don’t know. I just don’t know,” he said. “It’s a choice between plague and cholera. I’m not even sure I’m going to vote in two weeks.

He added: “The left is in pieces and despite all its faults, I believe that Jean-Luc Mélenchon was the only candidate who could change things. Instead, we had all these micro-candidates on the left. It was pitiful.

French citizen of Moroccan descent Hamid Chriet, 35, a political commentator and supporter of Mélenchon, said many voters felt frustrated. “I don’t think I will vote in the second round,” he said. “Seriously, I’m not bothered now. I don’t want Emmanuel Macron and I don’t want Marine Le Pen. For me, they’re the same.

Chriet added: “It is obvious that there is a deep democratic crisis. Since the crisis of the yellow vests nothing has been rebuilt. The greatest political force in France is now ‘clearance‘ [clear off]”, said Chriet. “We can imagine that Mélenchon’s revenge will be in the legislative elections. [in June].”

Opinion polls released ahead of the first vote suggest Macron will win the second round against Le Pen on April 24 by 52% to 48%.

A key campaign moment over the next two weeks will be a debate between Macron, 44, and Le Pen, 53, which could sway undecided voters. In 2017, the two-and-a-half-hour debate saw Macron and Le Pen trade personal insults, and the far-right candidate’s aggressive performance was declared not only unconvincing, but damaging.

Voters’ decision on which candidates were eliminated in the first round is key to who will become France’s next president.

After the result, right-wing candidate Valérie Pécresse of the Republicans said she would vote for Macron in the second round. She said it was a personal decision, but advised her supporters to think carefully before voting otherwise.

“I believe, like Jacques Chirac, that everything in the soul of France rejects extremism,” she said. “Marine Le Pen’s project would lead the country to disorder, weakness and failure.”

On the left, Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel, Ecologist Party candidate Yannick Jadot and Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo have already said they would call for a vote to prevent Le Pen from reaching the Élysée – rather than to vote for Macron.

A study by Harris Interactive looked at possible second-round voting intentions in a runoff between Macron and Le Pen. He revealed that 34% of Mélenchon voters would vote for Macron and 21% for Le Pen, but 45% would abstain or spoil their vote. Only 8% of Eric Zemmour’s voters would support Macron and 84% Le Pen, and only 8% would abstain. As expected, Zemmour called on them to support her on Sunday – despite “the differences we had”.

Among those who voted for Hidalgo, 53% could vote for Macron and 16% for Le Pen, but 31% would abstain; those of Pécresse would vote 46% for Macron, 33% for Le Pen and 21% would abstain.

Modern French presidents have struggled to win re-election for a second term. France’s two previous leaders, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party and right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy, served only one term, and the conservative Chirac only won his second presidential election because voters backed him. against his surprise rival in the second round, Jean-Marie Le Pen. , the father of Marine, of the extreme right National Front. After France’s postwar leader Charles de Gaulle, only one other president has won two terms: socialist Francois Mitterrand, who ruled France from 1981 to 1995.

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