Macron, Le Pen nearly even as France reflects on eve of election

Paris, Apr 9 (EFE).- France observed its pre-election silence Saturday marked by an unexpected parity between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and candidate Marine Le Pen, raising the question of whether the far-right can finally come to power after decades on the fringes of the mainstream.

The polls expect the president and the far-right leader to make it through to April 24’s run-off, meaning a Le Pen presidency is very possible, at least mathematically.

Macron is slated to win between 26 and 27% of the vote, while Le Pen would receive 24 percent, the latest polls reveal. In 2017, Macron beat Le Pen by three points.

Le Pen’s closest rival for a run-off with Macron is the leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon (polling at 17-18%), who is hoping to pull off a last-minute surprise.

In a projected second round, polls give Macron a second term in office, but with just a two or three-point advantage over Le Pen, compared to five years ago when he won 66% of the vote to Le Pen’s 34.

Macron’s delay in engaging with the electoral campaign cost him the lead he had in the polls thanks to his central diplomatic role in the Ukraine war.

On 9 March, polls gave Macron 31.5 percent of the vote intention, compared to Le Pen’s 18.5 percent, but that lead has since narrowed dramatically.

Analysts attribute this phenomenon to the fact that Macron’s campaign which has only featured a handful of events has increased the perception that already exists of him as a technocrat who is disconnected from average French people.

Le Pen’s insistence on denouncing the increase in the cost of living for the popular classes and the loan that his party received from Russian banks were also a factor.

In a bid to tackle this situation, Macron has stepped up his campaign against Le Pen in recent days. In his last rally on Friday night, he accused the far right-wingers of feeding on “fear” in society, while he proposed to offer “hope”. EFE


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