Macron and Le Pen go to the second round of the elections in France

President Emmanuel Macron heads into the battle for the French presidency against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, his rival in the second round of presidential elections, on April 24. The result of the first round, held this Sunday, places him in a comfortable position, more than expected, for the final vote. And it allows him to believe that, although with less distance from his rival than in 2017, he will win the election and stay five more years in the Elysee Palace.

It is not an irreversible advantage. And in the next two weeks, the centrist Macron will have to convince many French people who are disenchanted with his management of these five years in power , or with a personality and style that they consider haughty and elitist, to support him and avoid Le Pen’s access. to the power. Macron has nothing won against Le Pen, who was already his rival five years ago. And he would be wrong to trust himself.

But the wind of panic that in recent days, while the polls indicated a constant rise in Le Pen, blew among many Macronists, also among moderate French and in some Western foreign ministries, has subsided. It is possible that this sense of imminent danger helped at the last minute to mobilize the president’s electorate.

Macron got 27.6% of the votes with 97% of votes counted, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior. Le Pen follows with 23.41%. Both, being the most voted, qualify for the second round.

In third position was left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, close to Le Pen, with 21.95%. Some projections indicate that Le Pen’s lead over Mélenchon could be reduced by a few tenths by the end of the count.

The three add up to more than seven out of ten voters and bring together the useful vote of citizens. Macron received votes from the moderate right and the moderate left: citizens scared by the possibility that Le Pen would be the most voted and strengthen her chances of being president.

Voters from the left most hostile to the current president concentrated their vote on Mélenchon. And those who had felt sympathy for Éric Zemmour, the ultra commentator who for months disputed the leadership of the extreme right with Le Pen, voted for Le Pen.

The result of this movement towards the useful vote is the mediocre result of Zemmour, with 7.05%. And the collapse of Los Republicanos (LR), the historical party of the moderate right, and the Socialist Party (PS). Valérie Pécresse, LR candidate, got 4.7%. Anne Hidalgo, from the PS, 1.7%. Environmentalist Yannick Jadot keeps 4.5%.

According to estimates, abstention was 25.1%. In 2017 it was 22.2%. The record for abstention in the first round was in 2002, with 28.4%.

The catastrophic result of Hidalgo and Pécresse —candidates of the two parties that for decades backbone France— spells the end of the old French political system.

These elections consolidate the duopoly between Macron and Le Pen in the new system, with a third leg that is that of Mélenchon’s radical left.

Macron declared: “I solemnly invite our fellow citizens, whatever their sensitivity and their choice in the first round, to join us. Some will do it to stop the extreme right, and I know that this is not support for my project. I respect it.” Le Pen said: “I call on all French people, of all sensibilities, to join the great national and popular regrouping that I represent.”

France will revive the duel of May 7, 2017 on April 24, but it will not be the same as five years ago. Le Pen has softened his image and has stopped frightening most French people. According to the polls, he will be much closer to Macron than in 2017, when the president defeated his rival with 66% of the vote against 34%. This time, he thinks he has a chance of reaching the Elysee Palace.

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