A voter prepares to cast his ballot in Baren, southern France A voter prepares to cast his ballot in Baren, southern France 

French voters pick between Macron and Le Pen for president

Voters were choosing France’s next president on Sunday, with the incumbent Emmanuel Macron tipped to defeat his challenger, Marine Le Pen.

By Susy Hodges

The final opinion polls suggested the sitting French President Emmanuel Macron would win between 53% and 57% of the vote in Sunday’s second round of the elections, 10 points clear of Le Pen.

This is Marine Le Pen’s third bid to become President, and many feel that if she fails it will be her last. But she faces an uphill battle with Macron’s lead over her widening in recent days.

A centrist who first swept to power five years ago, Macron is aiming to become the first incumbent president in 20 years to win a second term.

Left-wing votes

Victory in this runoff poll for either candidate may well depend on how supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon will vote. He confounded projections in the first round by finishing third with nearly 22 percent of the votes.

Surveys suggest more Mélenchon voters are heeding his appeal not to vote for Le Pen and will either back Macron or abstain.

Posters of Macron (L) and Le Pen (R)
Posters of Macron (L) and Le Pen (R)

Voter issues

Although the race has been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, the main issue for voters has been the soaring cost of living, from energy bills and food to the price of petrol.

Le Pen and her team have seized on this issue by promising a government of national unity to tackle the high cost of living.

She is also calling for a referendum on immigration and a ban on wearing headscarves in public.

Macron has accused Le Pen of racism and extremism and of planning to take France out of the European Union (EU). Le Pen insists that she wants to stay in the EU but says she plans to “deeply modify it” to bring about what she terms a 'European alliance of nations.”

Russian ties

Macron has also attacked his rival for being too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Although Le Pen said she categorically condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she has openly expressed her admiration for Putin in the past and defended Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Despite the current war in Ukraine, her election manifesto advocates closer security ties with Moscow.

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24 April 2022, 16:46