Printed on Sat Oct 01 2022 8:42:46 AM

Macron leads first round of French election

International Desk
World
French election
French leader Emmanuel Macron and challenger Marine Le Pen qualified on Sunday for what promises to be a very tightly fought presidential election runoff on April 24, pitting a pro-European economic liberal against a far-right nationalist.

With partial results putting Macron in first place ahead of Le Pen after the first-round voting, other major candidates admitted defeat. Except for another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, they all urged voters to block the far-right in the second round.

But after five years in power in which his abrasive style has upset many, while Le Pen succeeded in softening her image, Macron will have to fight hard to win back disgruntled voters. He cannot take it for granted that voters will rally around a traditional anti-far right front.

"Nothing is decided, and the battle we will wage in the next 15 days will be decisive for France and Europe," Macron told supporters, urging all voters to rally behind him on April 24th to stop the far-right from ruling the European Union's second-largest economy.

Ifop pollsters predicted a very tight runoff, with 51% for Macron and 49% for Le Pen. The gap is so tight that victory either way is within the margin of error.

Other pollsters offered a slightly bigger margin in favour of Macron, with up to 54%. But that was in any case much narrower than in 2017, when Macron beat Le Pen with 66.1% of the votes.

Le Pen, who had eaten into Macron's once-commanding 10-point poll lead in recent weeks thanks to a campaign focused on cost-of-living issues said she was the one to protect the weak and unite a nation tired of its elite.

"What will be at stake on April 24 is a choice of society, a choice of civilisation," she told supporters, who chanted "We will win!" as she told them: "I will bring order back to France."

Macron, meanwhile, told supporters waving French and EU flags: "The only project that is credible to help purchasing power is ours."
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