French presidential election 2022: tight race expected between Macron and Le Pen in the first round – live | French presidential election 2022

0
13:10

Many Macron products are offered to those present at the outgoing president’s post-vote pep talk:

12:52

Abstention rate up, but not at record highs

The abstention rate, which should prove crucial in this election, is expected to be between 25% and 26.5%, according to French pollsters – higher than in the previous first round of 2017 (22.2%) , but not at the 2002 high of 28.4%.

Ifop estimates the abstention rate at 25%, Harris Interactive at 25.6%, and Ipsos, Elabe and OpinionWay at 26.5%.

Turnout in the South West, where voters are more likely to favor Emmanuel Macron, would be higher than in the North East, one of the regions most likely to support Marine Le Pen – but the abstention in largely pro-Macron Paris is also quite high, according to French media.

12:38

The two favorites to reach the second round are already preparing their election evenings. Here is the scene at Marine Le Pen’s campaign HQ:

And here are some of the more than 700 journalists from 37 countries who are accredited for Emmanuel Macron’s post-vote party:

12:05

My colleague Kim Willsher spent the last two days on the trail with Marine Le Pen in the final moments of her first-round campaign, addressing voters and reflecting on how the far-right leader has changed the image the public has of her and her party:

Marine Le Pen took over what was then the National Front in 2011 and set out to whitewash its image, tarnished by xenophobic neo-Nazi thugs with shaved heads and booted boots. Members have been expelled for racist and anti-Semitic remarks or for having defended Philippe Pétain, head of the French Vichy government, a Nazi collaborator in the 1940s. She even expelled her own father in 2015.

After his 2017 loss to Emmanuel Macron, Kim said:

She renamed the party the National Rally. He stopped calling for the death penalty and for France’s exit from the EU. She continues to defend the nationalist discrimination of “French first”, but there is also a commitment to a more left-wing economy, including increased pensions, opposition to the privatization of public services and protectionism as an alternative to globalization. She does not propose zero immigration and has dropped the party’s opposition to marriage equality and abortion.

Her critics say she changed her style, not the poisonous substance of the party – but as the left-leaning Jean-Jaurès Foundation has noted, her personal detoxification process appears to have succeeded:

The arguments around her incompetence or ignorance no longer seem to hold water at a time when part of France considers her completely presidential and close to the people, and no more worrying than other candidates.

As Kim concluded:

For many French people, the name Le Pen is no longer viewed with disdain. If, as expected, Le Pen does enough to reach the second round on April 24, Macron will face the biggest political fight of his career to prevent him from entering the Élysée.

11:44

Veteran French correspondent John Lichfield summed up the tension surrounding this election campaign in a recent opinion piece for the Guardian.

Could the country really be about to elect a far-right president, he asked?

Le Pen’s economic program is an incoherent mess. Its EU policy is stealth Frexit – unilaterally cutting payments to the EU budget and breaking EU laws it doesn’t like. She also wants to ban all Muslim women from wearing the veil in public.

Nevertheless, as Lichfield notes:

Opinion polls suggest that if enough left-leaning voters stay home in the second round, refusing to choose between Macron (“the president of the rich”) and a seemingly “kinder and gentler” Le Pen, then she could to win. Only.

Macron may have reduced French unemployment to 7.4%, the lowest in 13 years, steered France better through Covid than many other comparable countries and revived the EU with his ideas and his energy, has said Lichfield.

On the other hand:

France is an angry country. It’s still an angry country. He is particularly angry at the moment because the war in Ukraine has inflated the already high prices of petrol, diesel and food. But there is no real appetite in France for confrontational policies that would destroy an 80-year post-war political consensus of outward-looking tolerance and European unity…

It will be, he concludes, “two frightening weeks for anyone who cares about the well-being of France or Europe”.

You can read John’s full article here:

11:24

Turnout at 5 p.m. local time – three hours before the polls closed – was 65%, more than four percentage points lower than in the last presidential elections, but significantly higher than the record low of 2002 by 58%.

11:13

France’s two-round electoral process, designed by Charles de Gaulle to keep extremists at bay (the French say you vote first with your heart, then with your head) can be complicated for those unfamiliar with it.

Here’s a brief guide to how the system works, how France’s moderate left has been thrown into disarray, how the mainstream right isn’t much better off, what the leading candidates stand for, and what happens next:

10:43

The polling gap between the two favorites has narrowed considerably in recent weeks. Exactly a month ago, on March 10, Emmanuel Macron – buoyed by a rally effect around the flag following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was around 30% and Marine Le Pen around 18%. , according to the Guardian election tracker.

On average, the latest polls place the two at 26% and 23% respectively, a difference that is equal to the margin of error of many pollsters. The far-left brandon Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France Insoumise, also jumped over the same period, going from 12% to 17%.

Meanwhile, Valérie Pécresse of the right-wing Les Républicains party saw her support drop from 12% to 8%, and Eric Zemmour, the TV polemicist whose extreme positions on Islam and immigration did much to make Le Pen reasonable, fell from 12% to 9%.

The latest pre-election poll from Ipsos France, which has the largest sample size (10,425 respondents) and should therefore in principle be more precise, showed Macron at 26.5%, Le Pen at 22.5% and Melenchon at 17.5%.

10:25

Analysts are unanimous in saying that the participation of a disillusioned French electorate will be absolutely decisive for these elections, and it stood at midday at 25.48%, down from the three previous presidential elections (28, 5% in 2017, 28.3% in 2012 and 31.2% in 2007), but up from 2002 (21.4%) which, for those with a long memory, is the year when Jean- Marie, the father of Marine Le Pen, reaches the second round.

It’s hard to say at this point who this might benefit. A low turnout is widely seen as bad news for the far-right leader, as it could be a sign that her supporters, who often don’t turn out on Election Day in the kind of numbers that polls had predicted. , could again stay a way.

On the other hand, certain details of these participation rates at midday could ring some alarm bells in the presidential camp: abstention seems higher in the Paris region, very pro-Macron in the last elections of 2017, while the Turnout in some regions that voted overwhelmingly for Le Pen five years ago appears to be significantly higher.

The next turnout figures are expected at 5 p.m. local time, so we can have a clearer idea at that time. But there will be no certainty about what all this means until the first projections when the polls close at 8 p.m. – these are not, by the way, exit polls, but estimates based on actual votes cast at a representative selection of polling stations nationwide. They are usually very precise.

10:03

It’s election day in France

Jon Henley

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the first round of the 2022 French presidential election.

It appears to be a very tight thing, with opinion polls showing the gap between Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally and incumbent president, centrist Emmanuel Macron, steadily narrowing in recent weeks. .

These two candidates remain favorites to qualify for the second round on April 24 which will determine who will occupy the Elysée Palace for the next five years, even if support for radical left winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon has also increased and the level of abstention could wreak havoc with all the pre-election forecasts.

It was a strange, low-key campaign that in many ways never really got off the ground, hijacked first by the pandemic and then by the war in Ukraine. But its consequences could well prove to be considerable, not only for the future of France but for Europe as a whole.

We’ll bring you news, commentary and analysis from me, Guardian Paris bureau chief Angelique Chrisafis and correspondent Kim Willsher, with generally accurate projections of expected first-round results when polls close. at 8 p.m. local time.

Share.

Comments are closed.