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The first round of the presidential election in three observations | French Presidential 2022


1. A duel both similar and different from 2017

Around the table of the televised debate between the two rounds, the faces will be the same as five years ago. If Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen face each other again in the second round of a presidential election, the context of their duel is very different from that of five years ago.

First, five years ago, Emmanuel Macron was very little known to the French. Former Socialist Minister of the Economy, he created his own movement at the center of the political spectrum, succeeding in attracting sympathizers from both the right and the left.

Now president, he now has a record to defend. His five-year term, marked in particular by the movement of yellow vests, has drawn him much criticism from his political opponents. Even today, Emmanuel Macron’s flagship promise to raise the retirement age to 65 is arousing discontent from part of the left, which the president hopes to rally in the second round.

An outgoing leader must also face his share of controversies. Over the past week, Emmanuel Macron, for example, had to defend the granting of hundreds of millions of euros in contracts by his government to the consulting firm McKinsey, whose tax practices are now the subject of a investigation.

Marine Le Pen has spent the last few years trying to soften her image, which was associated with that of her father, Jean-Marie, the founder of the National Front. Throughout the presidential campaign, she put forward issues related to purchasing power and the cost of living, dear to a large part of the electorate, with less emphasis on issues related to immigration. In this regard, it is above all his competitor, the polemicist who has become a candidate Éric Zemmour, who has attracted attention and criticism.

Significant challenges await the candidates in this final stretch of the campaign. Now at the center of attention, Marine Le Pen should expect to be the target of attacks on issues related to immigration, but also on the links between her party and a Russian bank and her past positions favorable to Vladimir Poutine.

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Some supporters of Emmanuel Macron believe that, for his part, the candidate president must review his campaign strategy. In recent weeks, Emmanuel Macron has refused to debate with his opponents. And even in his camp, some criticize him for not having been sufficiently present on the ground, devoting a lot of his time to France’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

2. Supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the key to success

To win in the second round, a candidate must inevitably obtain more than 50% of the votes. To do so, the two candidates therefore have a mission: to convince the supporters of defeated candidates to support them.

Several candidates have already let know how they will vote on April 24, or how they suggest their activists act.

Thus, unsurprisingly Éric Zemmour calls on his supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen, while environmentalist Yannick Jadot and socialist Anne Hidalgo encourage their activists to support Emmanuel Macron. Without giving formal instructions, Valérie Pécresse, of the right-wing Les Républicains party, made it clear that she will vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round.

But the candidate who attracts the most attention is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the radical left party France insoumise.

Arrived in third position, with at least 22% of the registered electorate (and with support which has increased over the counting of the votes), it is in his camp that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen must convince themselves they want to ensure their place at the Élysée.

If he did not call directly to vote in favor of the outgoing president, Mr. Mélenchon repeated several times that he wanted his supporters to block the far right.

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