In the evening, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen meet in their only TV debate. According to polls, the incumbent is getting more support from voters.
Shortly before the television duel with his challenger Marine Le Pen, French President Emmanuel Macron further extended his lead in the polls for the presidential election on Sunday. In three polls before the runoff, Macron averaged 55.83 percent. This was a good percentage point more than on Friday. This means that the outcome of the election is less close than was to be expected according to polls before the first round of the presidential election. But Prime Minister Jean Castex warned against prematurely declaring victory: “It’s not done yet,” he told radio station France Inter.
On Wednesday evening, Macron and Le Pen will meet in a TV duel for the only time in this election campaign. In the past few days, both have carefully prepared for the dispute, which is expected to last more than two hours. The conversation is seen as an opportunity for Le Pen to turn the tide in her favor.
The head of the right-wing Rassemblement National (RN) suffered a clear defeat in the runoff election for the presidency in 2017 – Macron won with 66 percent of the vote. At that time, Le Pen’s appearance in the TV duel was not well received by the voters. She appeared ill-prepared and sometimes unsteady, while in the eyes of many observers Macron cut a far better figure and could present himself as a future statesman. But unlike back then, Macron, as incumbent, now offers more potential for attack. The self-confessed reform politician has also caused a lot of criticism during his five years in office.
Numerous left-wing French people criticize the fact that Macron has cut housing benefits and at the same time implemented tax breaks for the rich. The police operations against the yellow vest protests in the country are also remembered. The rallies by Macron’s opponents were initially directed against planned gas price increases, but later it was also about the head of state’s policies in general. Now voters are once again concerned with the issue of high fuel prices, which have continued to rise in the course of the war in Ukraine. Le Pen proposes a reduction in VAT on energy.
Macron and Le Pen are courting left-wing voters
A problem for Le Pen in the current situation could be her previously openly flaunted proximity to Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. However, she condemned the invasion of Ukraine as a clear violation of international law. At the same time, she wants to work for a rapprochement between NATO and Russia if the Ukraine war were to end and there would be a peace treaty.
France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire sees President Le Pen as a threat to the country. If elected, France’s sovereignty would be handed over to Putin and Russia, the politician said.
Before the second round of voting, Macron will have to do his best to convince left-wing voters of his pro-business policies. He has admitted that many will only support him to prevent Le Pen. “I want to convince women and men with different political views,” he said. Before the run-off election, Macron and Le Pen are primarily courting voters for the left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential election with 22 percent.