SAINT-DENIS, France — Emmanuel Macron is wooing disaffected left-wing voters and warning them against abstaining in Sunday’s presidential runoff by laying out what a victory for his far-right rival Marine Le Pen will mean for France’s Muslim community would.
The presidential candidate on Thursday visited Saint-Denis, a multicultural community in the northern Paris suburbs, in a last-ditch attempt to garner support from a diverse and working-class community that strongly supports veteran left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of voting on March 10.
As far-right candidates Eric Zemmour and Le Pen stigmatized France’s Muslims, Mélenchon emerged as their defender, denounce a rampant “anti-Muslim sentiment” in the country. Ahead of Sunday’s runoff, many of Mélenchon’s supporters are reluctant to stay home, cast a blank ballot, or vote for Macron.
Macron met with local groups in the market square and tried to warn of the consequences if Le Pen made it to the Elysée.
After promising to do more for deprived neighborhoods, he criticized Le Pen’s proposal to reserve public housing for French people and accused his opponent of wanting to exclude foreign citizens from public housing.
As an example, he said: “A young Moroccan woman who has two children, who works in the hospital and who has been applauded every night during the pandemic… with Madame Le Pen’s program we will take away her social housing and her family benefits.” ”
“It’s a program of discord,” Macron told reporters, accusing Le Pen of “confusing terrorism, insecurity, immigration, Islam and Islamism all the time.”
This week, Le Pen stressed She did not plan to expel foreign nationals because her proposal would not apply retrospectively.
The president was given a mixed reception, with some groups singing anti-Macron chants – borrowed from the Yellow Vests movement – and others cheering him on.
In the first round of the presidential elections, Mélenchon won in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis with 49 percent of the vote and particularly strong support from Muslim voters. In the city of Saint-Denis itself, he won more than 60 percent.
It shouldn’t be that hard to keep Seine-Saint-Denis voters away from Le Pen, given that the multicultural community is the worst audience for Le Pen’s divisive proposals on immigration and banning the Muslim headscarf.
But convincing those voters to support Macron will be a more difficult task.
Registered Seine-Saint-Denis the highest abstention rate among all French departments in the first round. The department’s Socialist president and more than a dozen mayors voted this week pushed Voters on Sunday for Macron. “If Marine Le Pen won catastrophically, the first casualties would be here,” warned Mathieu Hanotin, the socialist mayor of Saint-Denis, who accompanied Macron on his tour.
Mélenchon has told his constituents not to vote for Le Pen, but has not specifically called on them to support Macron.
With Mélenchon now out of the running, Macron is doing what he can to get those votes, using Le Pen’s proposal to ban the Muslim headscarf in public as a chance to distance himself from his rival and closer to French Muslims to appear.
During Wednesday’s televised election debate, Macron criticized the idea of publicly banning the hijab, warning Le Pen it could “lead to civil war.” In his speech in Saint-Denis, he reiterated that no other country in the world has such a ban.
“On the headscarf what you [Le Pen] propose is a betrayal of French values, of the Republic,” he said.
This is a subtle departure from previous, sometimes ambiguous, comments on Macron and his ministers’ headscarves. Although he has consistently spoken out against banning the hijab in public, he has implied in 2018 that it did not fully comply with French gender equality standards.
While some Saint-Denis voters will side with Macron, others are still hesitating.
One teacher, who declined to be named, said the warning of Le Pen’s presidency was “not a good argument” for voting for Macron. The president’s “turn to the left” “is not sincere and comes too late,” he said, adding he will stay home on Sunday after voting for Mélenchon on the first round.
Khadijah, a 62-year-old Algerian pensioner who also voted for Mélenchon, said Le Pen’s headscarf ban “would start a war here” and that she will vote for Macron.
“He will win Inshallah,” She said.
https://www.politico.eu/article/france-emmanuel-macron-election-campaign-targets-multicultural-voters-in-visit-to-banlieue/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Macron campaigns for Muslim vote during last-minute visit to Parisian banlieue – POLITICO