Presidency in France: The countdown has begun

Within a week, France will have chosen whom to entrust the keys to the Elysee for five years. In the meantime, outgoing President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will put all their strength into the fray, with a long-awaited climax, the debate supposedly opposing them on Wednesday.

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With barely a break for Easter Sunday, the two candidates are back on track on Monday, albeit with small steps, in order to prepare for Wednesday’s televised debate that could mark a turning point in the second round of the campaign.

Pressure is mounting on the candidate of the National Rally who in 2017 drowned Emmanuel Macron (La République en Marche, LREM). There is no doubt that his opponent, even if he has a slight advantage according to the opinion polls, will not back down from his strikes.

He will win on Sunday in a range of 53 to 55.5% versus 44.5 to 47% for Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate making a slight advance, but within the margin of error and, therefore, not safe from a wrong move or a strong mobilization of anti-Macron voters.

This time Marine Le Pen thinks she is better prepared for the discussion and says she is “very calm”.

For the far-right candidate, who is trying to cement her credibility and soften her image, “It’s an important moment because there are so many French people watching.”

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“I have read a lot of inconsistencies about my project for a few days, many cartoons, even fake news, and it is very important that I spend a moment with all interested French (…) able to reassure everyone,” she said on Saturday.

During the two rounds, it held two major press conferences on sovereign issues, institutions and diplomacy, intervened a lot in the media and conducted one demonstration, in Avignon (south) on Thursday evening.

In the face of the support her opponent has garnered, from left and right, or from civil society, she maintains the theme of purchasing power rather than her first identity, immigration, and tries to persuade the party that is popular with the electorate.

Her aides worked again on Sunday to de-mine the sensitive topic, the wearing of the veil, stressing that banning it in the public space that the candidate wants is no longer one of her priorities in the fight against the Islamists.

They also climbed to the slate in the face of new accusations of their candidate, denouncing a “stink ball”.

The European Anti-fraud Office has accused Marine Le Pen and her relatives of embezzling about 600,000 euros in European public funds during their tenure as members of the European Parliament, according to a new report submitted in March to French justice.

For Emmanuel Macron, Wednesday’s debate will be a “moment of clarification”. “I think I have a project that deserves to be known and I have a feeling that on the far right there is a project that deserves to be clarified,” he said in an interview broadcast on TF1 TV on Sunday. Channel.

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On the model, “the challenge is to be persuasive and persuasive without taking on an overly professional tone,” assures those around him.

Learning lessons from 2017 when she arrived at the debate unprepared and exhausted, after doubling her number of trips, Marine Le Pen will limit herself at the start of the week to a Monday morning incursion into Normandy (Northwest), on the topic “Meet the French: A Mission of Persuasion”. Before agreeing to retire a day and a half in the West to study his files.

It should hold its last big rally on Thursday in Arras, a city in Pas-de-Calais (North) where Emmanuel Macron took first place in the first round with 29.48% of the vote, followed in second place (24.03%) by Jean-Luc Melenchon from La France Insoumise (22.86%).

Emmanuel Macron organized the first round-trip gathering on Saturday in Marseille (south) largely dedicated to the environment and climate change, sending signals to the left-wing voters he hopes to rally.

He will be on France Culture radio on Monday morning and will be a guest on the “C à vous” program in the evening on the France 5 TV channel.

He can take a short trip to Ile-de-France on Tuesday and will head the Cabinet on Wednesday morning. As for the post-debate, he should make one last trip to the district, concluding with a crowded Friday rally.

He summed up in his TF1 interview: “Connect, explain, share, and sometimes joys, anger, and fears.”

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