On Sunday, April 10, France will hold presidential elections, in which a dozen candidates will fight for the right to take a seat at the Elysee Palace. The most serious opponent of the current head of state is expected to be the far-right Marine Le Pen, whose gap with Macron is shrinking.
According to opinion polls, the leader of the right-wing radical “National Union” (ex- “National Front”) is closing the gap with Emmanuel Macron in this month’s presidential election, writes The Guardian.
Marseille, 68-year-old Frenchwoman Elizabeth, who once voted for the left, is set to cast her ballot for the far-right Marine Le Pen in the presidential election. “People used to think Marin was nasty,” she says. “Now they understand that’s not the case.” Other politicians accept her ideas. Now everyone is talking like her. “
According to The Guardian, Elizabeth was forced to drop out at the age of 16 and worked for a shoemaker, a factory and a housekeeper, but her € 800 pension is barely enough to pay her bills and food. “I live on a loan, the overspend of which is in the middle of the month,” says the pensioner. – But Le Pen will cut taxes and put money in our pockets. ” The woman also agrees with Le Pen’s anti-immigration stance. She feels that there are fewer “Europeans” in multinational Marseilles, and she is worried about crime. “I was robbed twice, once because of a necklace, once because of a cigarette,” she said. Elizabeth believes that French society is tense and divided, but Le Pen “will calm the situation.”
After ten years of trying to neutralize the image of the far-right anti-immigration party she inherited from her father, Marine Le Pen has achieved the highest ratings and popularity this week. Polls show that she not only reaches the final of the second round against centrist President Emmanuel Macron on April 24, but also significantly reduced the gap. An Ifop poll alarmed Macron’s camp, showing that Marin Le Pen’s popularity had reached 47%, compared to 53% for the incumbent. Recall that the current president defeated his rival, receiving 66% of the vote in 2017.
Political opponents continue to condemn Le Pen’s National Union as a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim organization, but opinion polls suggest that although society once rejected it as the republic’s “devil”, public opinion has eased. In her third attempt to become president, Le Pen, 53, has become the second favorite political figure in France since former Macron Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in the latest Elabe poll.
Le Pen’s focus on the cost of living and rising energy prices is likely to be exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. “She is dangerous, – French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said last week. – She could win this presidential election. ” During a campaign trip to western France, Macron warned people to “look away” from the reality of Le Pen’s radical program, “finding it sweeter.”
The presidential election campaign, writes The Guardian, has become the most far-right in modern French history. In addition to Le Pen, another far-right candidate has emerged: former TV presenter Eric Zemmour, who has been tried for inciting racial hatred. Using more incitement than Marine Le Pen, he enshrined in the mainstream debate a discredited conspiracy theory of a “great replacement” in which he argued that the local French population could be replaced by foreigners, making France a Muslim-majority country on the brink. civil war. In total, Le Pen and Zemmour can get about 30% of the votes in the first round of voting. The traditional right-wing Republicans and its candidate, Valerie Pecress, have stepped up their immigration rhetoric by competing with Zemmur.
Instead of harming Le Pen, Eric Zemmour strengthened it, according to The Guardian. “Something absolutely amazing happened during this campaign. Eric Zemmour’s radicalism softened the image of Marine Le Pen, says Bruno Cotres, a political scientist at the University of Sciences-Po in Paris. – She is less radical for many voters, she looks less aggressive than Eric Zemmour, she has more respectability. “
The tough policy declared by Marin Le Pen has not changed and coincides with the policy of Zemmur. She promised to hold a referendum on immigration and rewrite the constitution to ensure a “France for the French” where the native French would have priority over non-French people in social benefits, housing, work and health. Le Pen promises to ban the Muslim headscarf, which she calls the “uniform of totalitarian ideology,” from being worn on the streets and in all public places.
Le Pen’s key themes – fears of insecurity and crime, feelings of decline and social inequality, and its link to immigration and the perceived threat of Islamism – have become increasingly popular in public debate in recent years.
“The ideas we have always fought for have become the opinion of the majority,” said Jordan Bardella, 26, a rising star of the Le Pen party and current acting leader of the National Union, during a meeting with voters in Marseilles.
Rafael Llorca, communications consultant at the Fondation Jean Jaurès think tank and author of a book on Le Pen and Zemmour, “New Masks of the Far Right”, said that this year the tone of Le Pen’s campaign was deliberately changed.
In previous campaigns, she was very populist, portraying the “people against the elite” very aggressively and viciously. Her political strategy was to use all kinds of anger, says the expert. – Now, in her opinion, division and conflict will not work. Her political reading of macronism is that Emmanuel Macron – the president who divided the people – were protesting “yellow vests”, demonstrations against health omissions because of COVID. She calls him “president of chaos” and says she can “calm down.” This is completely different. She seeks to demobilize voters who usually stop her. She wants to anesthetize society’s reflexes against the far right, to neutralize her critics. “
Opinion pollsters still believe Marine Le Pen’s victory in the presidential race is unlikely, but some analysts are seeing it as an external opportunity for the first time. Uncertainty remains over the level of abstentions and whether left-wing voters will again vote in large numbers for Macron to prevent the far-right candidate.