Macron and Le Pen in France head for the second round of the April 24 elections

  • Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen leading the first round
  • The second round of the presidential election is set for April 24.
  • Battle lines drawn between globalist and nationalist

PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) – French leader Emmanuel Macron and his challenger Marine Le Pen qualified on Sunday for what promises to be a hotly contested run-off in the April 24 presidential election, pitting a pro-economic liberal European to an extreme right-wing nationalist.

With partial results putting Macron in first place ahead of Le Pen after the first round of voting, other top contenders conceded defeat. With the exception of another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, they all urged voters to block the far-right in the second round.

But after five years in power where his abrasive style has shocked many, while Le Pen has managed to soften his image, Macron will have to fight hard to win back disgruntled voters. He cannot take for granted that voters will rally around a traditional anti-far-right front. Read more

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“Nothing is decided, and the battle we will wage in the next 15 days will be decisive for France and Europe,” Macron told his supporters, urging all voters to rally behind him on April 24 to prevent far right to lead the European Union. second largest economy.

Ifop pollsters predicted a very tight second round, with 51% for Macron and 49% for Le Pen. The gap is so tight that victory either way is within the margin of error.

Other pollsters offered a slightly larger margin in favor of Macron, with up to 54%. But it was in any case much narrower than in 2017, when Macron beat Le Pen with 66.1% of the vote.

Le Pen, who had eaten away at Macron’s 10-point lead in the polls in recent weeks thanks to a campaign focused on cost-of-living issues, said she was the one protecting the weak and uniting a weary nation. of his elite.

“What will be at stake on April 24 is a choice of society, a choice of civilization,” she told her supporters, who chanted “We will win!” as she told them, “I will bring order back to France.”

Macron, meanwhile, told his supporters waving French and European flags: “The only credible project to help purchasing power is ours.”

“CATASTROPHIC”

With 96% of the votes counted for the first round on Sunday, Macron collected 27.41% of the votes and Le Pen 24.03%. A near total vote count was expected later that night.

A victory for Le Pen on April 24 would be a similar jolt to the establishment as Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union (EU) or Donald Trump’s 2017 entry into the White House.

France would pass from the status of engine of European integration to that of a Euro-skeptic who is also wary of the NATO military alliance.

While Le Pen has abandoned past ambitions of a “Frexit” or to take France out of the euro zone’s single currency, she sees the EU as simply an alliance of sovereign states.

Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse warned of “disastrous consequences” if Macron were defeated, while socialist Anne Hidalgo urged her supporters to vote for him “so that France does not fall into hatred”.

“Not a vote for Le Pen!” added far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was estimated to come third with around 20% of the vote.

But they all also had very harsh words for Macron and some of the very unpopular policies of his first term as well as an abrasive style that put off many voters.

“Emmanuel Macron played with fire,” Pecresse told his supporters.

“PAY ATTENTION”

Zemmour acknowledged disagreements with Le Pen, but said Macron was a worse choice.

Barely a month ago, Macron seemed on course for a comfortable re-election who, leading the polls thanks to strong economic growth, a fragmented opposition and his role as a statesman in trying to avert war in Ukraine on the eastern flank of Europe.

But he paid the price for a late entry into the campaign during which he shunned market drives in provincial France in favor of a single large rally outside Paris. A plan to make people work longer also proved unpopular, allowing Le Pen to close the gap.

Le Pen, an open admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin until his invasion of Ukraine, had for months visited towns and villages across France. She focused on cost-of-living issues that trouble millions and tapped into anger at leaders.

“Marine Le Pen was able to talk to people about their more concrete problems. Over the next two weeks, he (Macron) will have to pay more attention to what is happening in France, take a diplomatic break,” said Adrien Thierry, 23 years. -a supporter of Macron.

As the vote count progressed, Mélenchon’s score edged closer to Le Pen’s, with 21.57% of the vote, while none of the others were in the double digits, leading some supporters to briefly hope for a change in the final roster, which ultimately seemed out of reach.

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Report by Makini Brice, Richard Lough, Layli Foroudi, John Irish, Sybille de La Hamaide, Tassilo Hummel, Michel Rose, Leigh Thomas, Hedy Beloucif, Gus Trompiz in Paris, Juliette Jabkhiro in La Villetelle, Mimosa Spencer in Sèvres, Michaela Cabrera in Henin-Beaumont; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Mark Porter and Diane Craft

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