Macron will face Le Pen in the run-up to the French presidential election

Paris The incumbent Emmanuel Macron will face far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in a win-take-all over the French presidency after they both advanced to the first round of the country’s election on Sunday to create another head-to-head clash between their sharply opposite visions for France.

The polls’ projections and a partially official vote count showed France was in the process of repeating the 2017 run that made Macron the country’s youngest president ever – but this time with no guarantee the outcome would be the same.

Addressing his supporters, shouting “five more years”, Macron warned that “nothing has been done” and said that the next two weeks’ campaign for the second round of voting on April 24 will be “crucial for our country”. and for Europe. “

He claimed that Le Pen would bring France on a par with “populists and xenophobia,” he said: “It is not us.”

“I want to reach out to all those who want to work for France,” he said. He promised to “implement the project of progress, of French and European openness and independence, for which we have advocated.”

French presidential election
A display shows French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at her election day headquarters in Paris on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Francois Mori / AP


The election result will have a major international impact as Europe struggles to stem the devastation caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin. invasion of Ukraine. Macron has strongly supported EU sanctions against Russia, while Le Pen has worried about their impact on French living standards. Macron is also a staunch supporter of NATO and of the close cooperation between the 27 members of the EU.

With two-thirds of the votes counted, Macron and Le Pen had comfortably pulled free of hard-line left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, out of two candidates in third place.

Macron, a 44-year-old political center man, won with a landslide five years ago, but he is preparing for a far tougher second round against his 53-year-old political enemy. Le Pen promises seismic change for France – both domestically and internationally – if he is elected as the country’s first female president.

Macron had for several months looked like a shot on the road to becoming France’s first president in 20 years to win another term. But the leader of the National Rally, Le Pen, took in a late rise into the most important issue in the minds of many French voters: the sky-high costs of food, gas and heating due to rising inflation and the consequences of Western sanctions against Russia.

Election night with Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party during France's 2022 presidential race
Emmanuel Macron addresses voters after leading the first round of opinion polls on April 10, 2022 in Paris, France.

AurelienMeunier2019 / Getty Images


The polling station’s projections put both Macron and Le Pen on track to improve their first round in 2017, highlighting how French politics has become more and more polarized. Macron was expected to capture a significant lead in the first round of around 28% support, before Le Pens expected 23% -24% of the vote. Melenchon was credited with about 20% support.

Both Macron and Le Pen must now reach out to voters who supported the 10 presidential candidates defeated on Sunday to win the second round.

Le Pen seemed to target in particular Melechon’s left-wing supporters by promising “social justice” and solutions to “a France torn apart.”

“The French people honored me by qualifying me for the second round,” Le Pen said. Her supporters celebrated with champagne and interrupted her speech shouting “We must win!”

Still, some of her defeated rivals were so concerned about the possibility of Le Pen beating Macron that on Sunday they urged their supporters to move their votes in the second round to the incumbent. Melenchon addressed supporters who sometimes shed tears, repeatedly saying, “We must not give one vote to Mrs. Le Pen.”

Defeated Conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse described herself as “deeply concerned”, warning against “the chaos that would ensue” if Le Pen was elected, saying the far-right leader has never been so close to power. Pecresse said she would vote for Macron in the re-election.

Election night with Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National Party during France's presidential race in 2022
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaks at an election night event following the first round of voting on April 10, 2022 in Paris, France.

LOUISE DELMOTTE / Getty Images


Opinion polls suggest that just a few percentage points could separate the well-known enemies in the second round. The drainage campaign is likely to be far more confrontational than round one, which was largely overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.

After handing over her blue ballot in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont, Le Pen said, “given the situation in the country and in the world,” the election result could determine “not only the next five years, but probably the next few years. ” in France.

In the EU with 27 members, only France has a nuclear arsenal and a veto from the UN Security Council.

To beat Le Pen in the bud, Macron has to part with her years-long rebranding efforts to make herself seem less extreme, a makeover that has even highlighted her love of cats. Macron has accused Le Pen of pushing an extremist manifesto of racist, ruinous policies. Le Pen wants to roll back some rights for Muslims, ban them from wearing headscarves in public and drastically reduce immigration from outside Europe.

Her softer image has won over some voters, but made others even more suspicious.

Yves Maillot, a retired engineer, said he only voted for Macron to match Le Pen. He said he feared her long-standing hostility to the EU could lead her to try to take France out of the bloc, even though she has dropped it from her manifesto.

“I do not think she has changed at all,” he said. “It’s the same, but with cats.”

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