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Macron or Le Pen? The French face two visions of the world

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The turnout at 5 p.m. local time in mainland France was 63.23%, down more than two points compared to 2017 (65.30%), during the same duel between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the Interior Ministry announced on Sunday.

This figure also marks a decline of almost two points compared to the first round of voting (65.00%) on April 10.

The French are faced with a historic choice: to renew the outgoing president or elect a woman, which would be a first, and would at the same time propel the far right to the head of the country. This option would be a blast that would resonate far beyond the country’s borders, comparable to Britain’s Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016.

A re-election of Mr. Macron, 44, would represent continuity, even if the candidate president has promised to renew himself in depth, saying he wants to place ecology at the heart of his second – and last – term.

He would then be the first French president to be re-elected for a second term in 20 years, since Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Outgoing French President Emmanuel Macron.

Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron addresses his supporters after results put him first in the second round.

Photo: Reuters / BENOIT TESSIER

His divisive positions on certain subjects, his clumsy, even contemptuous outings, and his vertical exercise of power offended some French people, who considered him too disconnected from their daily realities and their difficult end of the month.

He was very early qualified as president of the richin particular after two decisions at the start of his term of office that the left has never accepted: abolition of wealth tax (ISF) and reduction in housing aid.

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The violence that punctuated the demonstrations of the social movement of “yellow vests” (including demonstrators blinded after fire from the police) and the treatment deemed degrading by several international and national NGOs of migrants (Afghans, Syrians, Sudanese, etc.) on French soil, particularly in Calais (north), have definitively alienated part of the left, from which he nevertheless comes.

The “de-demonized” extreme right?

Ms. Le Pen, 53, has smoothed and softened her speech, trivialized her image, to the point of rejecting the term far-right. It is reaping the fruits of a long strategy of demonizationeven if on the merits, particularly on immigration, its program has not changed.

The arrival of Mrs Le Pen at the helm of a nuclear power, endowed with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and the driving force of the European Union, would be an earthquake, especially since it would fit into the heavy context of a war at the gates of Europe.

In front of a school in Rennes (west), Bernard Maugier, a 76-year-old retiree and living in a sensitive area of ​​the city, says he voted to avoid a civil war. Don’t get the wrong personhe lets go, saying to himself worried by the outcome of this election.

Asked in line at a polling station in the Paris region, Anny Platroze, 76, who for the first time in his life n / A not sure who to vote for in the first roundn / A no more hope.

However, she is there, like Katia, a 27-year-old sales hostess, who came without any conviction, a little tired.

Mr. Macron voted at midday with his wife in Le Touquet (north) where the couple has a second home.

For her part, Marine Le Pen slipped her bulletin around 11 a.m. local time in her stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont (north).

The latest polls published Friday evening, before the entry into force of the electoral reserve period, give Mr. Macron the favorite, beyond the margin of error. But very far from his 2017 score where he beat his rival by 66.1% of the vote against 33.9%, to become, at 39, the youngest president of the Fifth Republic, established in 1958.

The programs of the two candidates are opposite and offer a radically different vision of Europe, the economy, purchasing power, relations with Russia, pensions, immigration, the environment…

After a five-year period peppered with crises, from “yellow vests” to COVID, these are two Frances facing each other.

To counter his opponent, Emmanuel Macron, who came out on top in the first round (27.85%) with a lead of more than four points, reactivated the republican front to block the far right.

The candidate of the National Rally, for her third attempt, bet on another front, the Anything but Macron.

Between the two rounds, the two candidates courted the electorate of the leader of the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the first round on April 10 with nearly 22% of the vote.

Voters will again be called to the polls on June 12 and 19 for the legislative elections where the new president will seek to obtain the majority necessary to govern.

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