Le Pen closes gap with Macron in French presidential election

Far-right presidential candidate grows in popularity

France will hold a presidential election on Sunday, April 10, in which a dozen candidates will compete for the right to take the 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 to Macron is closing.

Photo: Global Look Press

Judging by the polls, the leader of the right-wing radical “National Association” (ex-National Front) closes the gap with Emmanuel Macron in this month's presidential election, writes The Guardian.

Elisabeth, a 68-year-old Frenchwoman who once voted for the left, lives in Marseille and is about 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 this is not so. Other politicians accept her ideas. Now everyone is talking like her.

Elisabeth was forced to drop out of school at 16 and worked for a shoemaker, factory and housekeeper, but her €800 pension is barely enough to pay her bills and eat, according to The Guardian. “I live on credit, which is overdrawn 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 position. She feels that the “Europeans” is getting smaller in cosmopolitan Marseille and she is worried about crime. “I was robbed twice, once for a necklace, once for a cigarette,” — she tells. Elisabeth thinks French society is tense and divided, but Le Pen will “calm things down.”

After a decade spent trying to neutralize the image of the far-right anti-immigration party she inherited from her father, Marine Le Pen has reached her highest ratings and popularity in the polls this week. Polls show that not only does she reach the second-round final against centrist President Emmanuel Macron on April 24, but she has closed the gap significantly. An Ifop poll has alarmed the Macron camp, showing Marine Le Pen's popularity as high as 47% to 53% for the incumbent. Recall that the current president defeated his rival, receiving 66% of the vote in 2017.

Political opponents continue to denounce Le Pen's National Rally party as a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim organization, but polls show that although society once dismissed it as a “devil” Republic, public opinion about it softened. In her third attempt at the presidency, Le Pen, 53, has become France's second favorite political figure behind former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe Macron in the latest monthly Elabe poll.

Le Pen's emphasis on the cost of living and rising energy prices is likely to be exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. “She's dangerous,” French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said last week. — She could win this presidential election.” On a campaign tour of the west of France, Macron warned against people “looking away” away from the reality of Le Pen's radical program, “finding her more endearing.”

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 broadcaster Eric Zemmour, who was tried for inciting racial hatred. Using more inflammatory language than Marine Le Pen, he has cemented in the mainstream debate the discredited “great replacement” conspiracy theory in which he claims that the local French population could be replaced by outsiders, making France a Muslim-majority country located on brink of civil war. In sum, Le Pen and Zemmour can get about 30% of the vote in the first round of voting. Party “Republicans” the traditional right and her candidate Valerie Pecresse have stepped up their immigration rhetoric in competition with Zemmour.

Rather than hurt Le Pen, Eric Zemmour has stepped up its rhetoric, The Guardian notes. “Something absolutely amazing happened during this campaign. The radicalism of Eric Zemmour softened the image of Marine Le Pen, — comments Bruno Cotres, a political scientist at the Paris-based Sciences-Po University. — She is less radical for many voters, looks less aggressive than Eric Zemmour, she has more respectability.

The tough policy declared by Marine Le Pen has not changed and coincides with Zemmour's policy. She promised to hold a referendum on immigration and rewrite the constitution to provide a “France for the French” where native French people would have priority over non-French people in terms of social benefits, housing, jobs and health care. The Muslim headscarf, which she calls the “uniform of a totalitarian ideology,” Le Pen promises to ban wearing on the streets and in all public places.

Key themes Le Pen — concerns about insecurity and crime, feelings of decline and social inequality, and her connection of these issues with immigration and the perceived threat of Islamism — have taken up more and more space in public debate in recent years.

“The ideas we have always fought for have become the opinion of the majority,” — Jordan Bardella, 26, a rising star of Le Pen's party and current acting leader of the National Rally, said during a meeting with voters in Marseille. s and author of the book on Le Pen and Zemmour, New Masks of the Far Right, said that the tone of Le Pen's campaign was deliberately changed this year.

“In previous campaigns, she was very populist, representing the people against the elite; very aggressive and vicious. 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 — there were “yellow vest” protests, demonstrations against health passes due to COVID. She calls him “the president of chaos” and says that it can “calm down”. This is completely different. She seeks to demobilize the voters who usually stop her. She wants to anesthetize society's reflexes against the far right, to neutralize her critics.

Public opinion pollsters still see Marine Le Pen winning the presidency as unlikely, but for the first time some analysts see it as an outside possibility. . Uncertainty remains about the rate of abstentions and whether left-wing voters will again vote for Macron in large numbers to keep out a far-right candidate.

Источник www.mk.ru

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