It will soon be decided whether Le Pen or Macron will lead France in the future; they are close in the polls. Both are now fighting for votes – and they don’t stop at insults.
French President Emmanuel Macron and right-wing populist Marine Le Pen meet personally at the finish line of the presidential campaign. “Millions of French people are convinced that Emmanuel Macron’s government was terribly authoritarian, that he ruled alone and brutally,” Le Pen told BFM on Friday. For his part, Macron stressed that Le Pen was “not exactly sweetness personified”.
While the electoral campaign had gone rather badly before the first round last Sunday, the two candidates in the second round have now increased the pressure. Macron and Le Pen give a series of interviews, with television and radio forced to give them equal speaking time. They visit markets, take countless selfies with supporters and champion their agenda at big events.
“Barrage” against Macron’s second term
In front of 4,000 supporters in Avignon on Thursday evening, Le Pen called for the construction of a “dam” against Macron’s second term. In doing so, she appropriated a term that had previously been used in France to refer to broad electoral alliances against right-wing extremists.
Macron last week sought contacts with people in the neglected north and in Alsace, where Le Pen and left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon have done well. He also visited a wind turbine factory, a nod to green voters who lack climate policy concepts in his platform.
Macron weaker in the polls than in 2017
“Macron wants to catch up on what he missed before the first round,” said Céline Bracq, head of the Odoxa polling institute. “Mostly, he’s trying to get rid of the image that he’s pretentious.”
The only televised debate between Le Pen and Macron is scheduled for next Wednesday. In their televised debate five years ago, Macron let his opponent rush. Le Pen should be better prepared this time. According to the latest polls, Macron can expect 53 to 56 points in the second round, significantly less than in the previous election, which he won with 66% of the vote.