France’s Macron appeals to voters at last minute as Le Pen hits all-time high in poll

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron, a candidate for re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, attends a political campaign rally at the Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, France, April 2, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier


By Tassilo Hummel

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appealed to younger, progressive voters in his latest scheduled interview ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, as his predicted lead over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen further evaporated.

“When it comes to correcting social inequalities at the root, we’ve started work, but we’re still a long way from being successful,” he told online news channel Brut in a lengthy interview, also promising to do more. to combat climate change.

Less than 48 hours before the first-round vote, the race for the top job in the eurozone’s second-largest economy appeared to be coming down again for the two finalists of the 2017 elections.

But while Macron still had a small lead in opinion polls, his re-election on Friday no longer seemed a foregone conclusion as Le Pen climbed polls, some of which place her within the margin of error.

A poll on Friday showed the narrowest gap ever, with Le Pen winning 49% of the vote in a likely runoff election against the president, her best poll score ever.

The poll, published on the BFM TV website a-coude-aux-deux-tours_AN-202204080463.html, showed Macron had lost two more points with 26% support and Le Pen had won two points to 25%.

Hours before candidates and their aides are required by French electoral law not to make political statements until polling stations close on Sunday night, there was a growing sense of unease among Macron supporters.

“I think it will be fine, but it will be difficult,” a minister, who wished to remain anonymous, told Reuters.

Campaign insiders say Macron urgently needs to appeal to the widest possible voter base ahead of the first round, as a second-place finish behind Le Pen on Sunday would give her a strong boost for the second round.

Le Pen has focused her bid on purchasing power, softening her image and using promises to cut taxes and increase some social benefits, raising concerns about financial markets as she gains momentum in the polls.

The radical, outspoken stances of far-right candidate Eric Zemmour have helped her appear more mainstream, and many left-wing voters have told polls that unlike in 2017, they would not vote in the second round to remove Le Pen from power.

“They won’t necessarily vote for Marine Le Pen, but they don’t want to vote for Emmanuel Macron,” said Jean-David Levy, deputy director of polling station Harris Interactive.

“Marine Le Pen has never been more able to win a presidential election.”


As some in the president’s camp complained about a lack of preparation as his team had handled most of the war in Ukraine in recent months, Macron on Friday expressed regret that he entered the race much later than his competitors.

“So the fact is that I entered (the campaign) even later than I wanted,” Macron said, adding that he maintained a “spirit of conquest rather than defeat”.

“Who would have understood six weeks ago that I would suddenly start political meetings, that I would focus on domestic problems if the war broke out in Ukraine,” Macron told RTL radio earlier on Friday.

Macron, who has courted the center-right for the past five years, suddenly changed course, telling voters he would further protect them from the rising cost of living and the dangers of Le Pen, whom he called a racist.

“Its fundamentals have not changed: it is a racist program that aims to divide society and is very cruel,” Macron said.

Le Pen told Franceinfo broadcaster she was “appalled” by the accusation, which she dismissed, calling the president “feverish” and “aggressive”.

She said her program, which includes adding a principle of “national priority” to the French constitution, would not discriminate against people on the basis of their origin – as long as they hold a French passport.


In his last scheduled interview before Sunday’s vote, Macron reiterated his warning against a rising far-right.

“They are playing with the fear,” Macron told online news channel Brut on Friday in a last-minute appeal to progressive, younger voters. “They make short-term proposals, the financing of which is sometimes completely unclear.”

According to opinion polls, about a third of voters have yet to make a decision, which analysts say often favor candidates with realistic chances of entering the second round, as undecided voters tend to vote for what the French call a “useful vote.” “, meaning strategic voting.

Macron and Le Pen aside, this trend will favor far-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, who – also on an uptrend – is in third place with about 17% of the predicted vote.

Left-wing figure Christiane Taubira, a former minister who dropped out of the race after failing to rally the left behind, backed Melenchon on Friday, saying he was now the left’s best hope.

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