Marine Le Pen grills Macron over energy cuts during election debate
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But the race isn’t over and the votes are yet to be cast – and President Macron could find himself out of a job if he fails to win over a certain sample of the French electorate. Mr Macron is currently ahead of Marine Le Pen in the polls, but not comfortably enough to command a certain win on Sunday, April 24.
Last night’s final televised debate between the two rivals saw them clash over Vladimir Putin and the rising of cost of living in France.
But it seems to have done little to put the election’s ambiguity at ease.
ING’s Senior Economist for France, Charlotte de Montpellier, told Express.co.uk: “Last night’s televised debate between the two candidates did not fundamentally change the situation.
“Le Pen failed to hook Macron on his record as president, and it was Macron who pushed her onto the defensive on her record of voting against policies in the assembly, her pro-Vladimir Putin stance, and her plans for the European Union.”
France is more concerned with subduing the rise of the far-right than they are of his policies.
The elimination of Eric Zemmour, another far-right candidate who was previously convicted of hate crimes, has allowed for more scrutiny of Ms Le Pen’s policies – and it’s becoming clear that many French voters don’t agree with some of her hardline stances.
Many of Ms Le Pen’s policies on immigration, the EU and Russia irk people of all political persuasions – and this could push those who didn’t vote for a far-right candidate in the first round into Mr Macron’s corner.
But still, the biggest issue at stake at the end of the campaign remains left-wing voters.
A large number of those who voted for the left wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round, who came third with 22 percent of the vote, might still prefer to abstain.
While voter turnout is typically higher during France’s national elections, it was nearly at its lowest this year compared with previous presidential races.
More than a quarter of registered voters did not bother to vote in the first round.
According to an Ipsos poll, following the first round, among young people ages 25 to 34, the abstention rate was 46 percent, while among young people ages 18-24, the abstention rate was 42 percent.
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In the first round of voting, Mr Macron owed much of his success to the centre-right portion of the electorate who abandoned the conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse.
Mr Macron also benefited from the backing of moderate left voters who ditched Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo.
The fight is now to win over the 22 percent of voters who backed Mr Mélenchon – if they can be won over at all.
Following the result, Mr Mélenchon urged his supporters to give “not one single vote” to Ms Le Pen – but he also did not bring himself to suggest they vote for Mr Macron.
Polls suggest that up to a fifth of Mélenchon’s supporters will vote for Ms Le Pen in a run-off.
Ms de Montpellier said: “Ultimately, the polls suggest that a Macron victory on Sunday is still the most likely outcome.
“Nevertheless, given the expected high abstention rate, a surprise cannot be excluded and a Le Pen victory remains a possibility.”
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