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Macron and Le Pen go to the second round of the elections in France, according to first estimates | International

France will revive the 2017 duel between the centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen on April 24, according to estimates published at the close of schools in the first electoral round, this Sunday. Both candidates would qualify for the second round of the presidential elections as they were the two with the most votes.

President Macron has received around 28.6% of the vote, according to the Ifop institute’s estimate for the TF1 network, followed by Le Pen with 24.4%. The estimates of the other chains and institutes coincide with slight variations. In the first round of 2017, Macron won with 24.01% of the vote and Le Pen got 21.3%.

But nothing will be the same as five years ago. Le Pen has softened his image and stopped scaring most French people. According to the polls, he will be much closer to Macron than in 2017, when the president defeated his rival with 66% of the vote against 34%. This time, he thinks he has a chance of reaching the Elysee Palace.

In third position, behind Macron and Le Pen, is the leader of the populist left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with 20.2%, according to Ifop. The ultra commentator Éric Zemmour, who for a few months believed he could challenge Le Pen for the leadership of the extreme right, takes 6.8%. He is followed by the ecologist Yannick Jadot, with 4.6%, tied with Valérie Pécresse, the candidate of the Republicans, the historical party of the moderate right. Jean Lassalle, a ruralist candidate, obtained 3.2%. The communist Fabien Roussel, 2.5%.

And the socialist Anne Hidalgo, 1.9%. The catastrophic result of Hidalgo and Pécresse – candidates of the two parties that for decades backbone France – sentences the end of the old French political system. Hidalgo called to vote for Macron in the second round. Pécresse said that she would vote for the current president.

Abstention, according to the Ipsos estimate, has been 26.5%. Ifop points out that it has been 25%. In 2017 it was 22.2%. The record for abstention in the first round was in 2002, with 28.4%.

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The demographic institutes publish these estimates at 8:00 p.m. from a sample of representative schools. In France they tend to coincide quite a lot with the final result. In parallel, the Ministry of the Interior informs throughout the night of the count as the data arrives.

It is the first time, since 1981, that the final is repeated. That year the Socialist François Mitterrand beat President Valéry Giscard D’Estaign, having lost to him seven years earlier. In 2002, presidential terms were increased from seven to five years. Since the mandate was shortened, no incumbent president has been re-elected. Nicolas Sarkozy lost to François Hollande and, five years later, he gave up on running again.

After the first round, which leaves the remaining 10 candidates eliminated, a new campaign begins. For two weeks, the two qualifiers will have to convince the voters that they are he, or she, the most qualified to lead a central country in the European Union, equipped with a nuclear bomb and with a permanent seat in the Council for the next few years. UN Security. If, as the polls predicted and the first projections seem to confirm, Macron and Le Pen are the finalists, a clash between opposing models for France and Europe will arise in the campaign.

All attention, starting in the next few hours, will focus on the voting slogans of the defeated candidates. Will left-wing voters vote for Macron? Or will they abstain because they are dissatisfied with a management by the president that many consider conservative despite the fact that in 2017 he won largely thanks to the Social Democratic vote? And the classic right of the Republicans? Will he lean towards the president? Or will only the most moderate do it and the rest will join Le Pen?

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen casts her vote in the ballot box in the first round of the French presidential election this Sunday, in Henin-Beaumont, northern France.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen casts her vote in the ballot box in the first round of the French presidential election this Sunday, in Henin-Beaumont, northern France.Michael Spengler (AP)

A key moment will be the televised debate on April 20. In 2017, Le Pen came out of the debate against Macron very badly due to her lack of preparation and mastery of the issues.

Le Pen, daughter of ultra patriarch Jean-Marie Le Pen, is the third time she has run for a presidential election and the second time she has reached the second round. The candidate her promises a profound reformulation of France’s relationship with the EU, an alliance with Russia and a constitutional change that would give her a free hand to apply tougher policies against immigrants and would reduce the rights of foreigners living in France. Her campaign has focused not on traditional far-right issues like identity, immigration or insecurity, but on price hikes and measures to increase wages and make ends meet.

For Macron, the objective these days will be to convince voters, apathetic and without the energy of 2017, that he has a vision for France and that his proposal is not more of the same after five years marked by social unrest and the pandemic. He will insist that, in a context of war in Europe, he can be trusted to manage the crises of the coming years. And he will try to portray Le Pen as an inexperienced candidate in management, a friend of Vladimir Putin’s Russia in international politics and far-right in ideology. Her accession to her power, the Macronists will argue, would represent a danger to France and Europe.

Le Pen’s objective these two weeks will be, on the one hand, to capture the vote of discomfort and discontent with a president that a part of the population sees as an elitist and arrogant man who despises them. And on the other, to strengthen an image that he has been cultivating for years and that in this campaign seems to have connected with a significant part of the electorate. She presents herself as a leader close to ordinary French people, kind and humane. She is as far removed from the style and rhetoric often associated with the historic far right—aggressive and xenophobic—as she is from recent populist leaders like Donald Trump, who seized power through outbursts and provocations.

Le Pen, some experts say, has “chiraquized”, a neologism that alludes to Jacques Chirac, president between 1995 and 2007, a moderate conservative and remembered by the French for his bonhomie and proximity to the people. Macron’s entire effort will consist of deschiraquizarla these days, and that of Le Pen, in chiraquise even more.

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