Macron gains advantage over presidential rivals as Ukraine war breaks out – POLITICO

PARIS – The war in Ukraine has upset the French President’s election campaign but in many ways it benefits the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron.

When the French President made another phone call on Monday to try to secure peace between Ukraine and Russia, his political opponents were left out.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine is coming just as Macron is expected to officially announce his re-election campaign, marking the beginning of the final phase of his presidential campaign. The French head to the polls on April 10 for the first round of the election, but while his opponents have been campaigning for weeks and pushing through their policy proposals, Macron has held back. Chop your cards, carefully plan a lightning-fast campaign.

It is unclear what the final weeks of the campaign will look like, as all camps are forced to change their political strategy and cancel protests because of the war.

But recent polls show that the French president is gaining support as a result of the crisis. A poll from Harris Interactive gave him 27 percent of the vote and another from Ifop putting him in 28 percent, about 10 percentage points ahead of far-right Marine Le Pen, who is currently voting in second place for the first round of the election.

Insiders in Macron’s opponents say they have difficulty finding angles to attack the French president.

Le Pen’s deputy campaign manager Jean-Philippe Tanguy said: “We cannot attack Macron when he is representing France on the international stage. “In politics there is always a dose of theater, but when the situation is this dire, we won’t start small controversies.”

Macron’s lead in the polls comes even though he has dramatically slashed his domestic schedule, delegating visits to Prime Minister Jean Castex. On Saturday, Macron spent just two hours at France’s top agricultural show, a mandatory stop for presidential candidates.

Some news organizations also reported on Monday that Macron’s first campaign rally, in Marseille on Saturday, is likely to be cancelled.

The French president has managed to stay competitive as political rivals jostle for a spot in the race against him – and things are not expected to change much, although Macron will announce his candidacy. elected this week before the official deadline for the presidential bids.

“We will not be able to hold large, rowdy rallies looking ahead while the war is going on,” said a spokesman for the La République en Marche party. “Voice” [of the campaign] will be more formal, less assertive, even if we still want to campaign on the subject of France later [COVID-19] crisis.”

Among the opposition parties, the French president’s decision to delay some campaign pledges was warmly welcomed. “[Macron] would use war to avoid campaigning, just as he used the pandemic,” Tanguy said.

“It means he can present himself as a figure of the country and even approach the election as an implicit innovation in his mandate,” said a Socialist Party official. .

Defeat abroad, win at home?

Just as Vladimir Putin has brought the European Union together, he has also infused Macron with renewed energy for European supporters.

Europe’s swift response to Russia’s aggression, including financial sanctions, closing airspace to Russian planes and banning broadcaster RT, has paid off for accusations that the EU is not take bold actions.

A spokesman for La République en Marche warned: “You won’t find anyone in the party who says there is anything positive about the conflict in Ukraine.

But, he added, “[the war in Ukraine] prove our choice,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU’s economic recovery plan and now the bloc’s response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

“Europe is the solution when it comes to health, the economy, and now defense.”

Macron’s personal diplomatic efforts to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine may have failed – Macron’s high-profile visit to Moscow and numerous phone calls with Putin have yielded nothing so far – but this doesn’t seem to matter, at least in the short term, in France.

Meanwhile, Macron’s far-right opponents, who are emphasizing Europeanism and innovative nationalism in public debate, have been forced to abandon their former pro-Putin stance.

Le Pen in the past supported Russia annexation of Crimearejected calls for the release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and said she greatly admired Putin.

Last week, the National Rally candidate admitted about French Television that the conflict “had somewhat changed her view of [Putin]. ”

“Western standards are not the same as Russian values,” she said. “But what he has done is a flagrant violation of international law and that is completely indisputable. We cannot justify his behavior.”

Eric Zemmour, the surprise far-right candidate who upset last year’s poll predictions with aggressive anti-immigration, anti-EU proposals, has struggled to find his footing in the days recently when videos emerged of him hoping for a “Putin of France” or praising Putin as “the last resistance fighter against the storm of political correctness.”

In the longer term, however, opponents believe the crisis in Ukraine could return to bite Macron.

“[The war] makes everything opaque,” ​​said a former minister from the opposition Les Républicains party. “If there is a protracted war, it is a defeat for all the main characters and Macron is one of them.”

“Macron puts himself forward [in negotiating with Putin] and nothing happened, although he implied that he got something from Putin. The crisis will crystallize support around Macron or against him if he is seen as agitated and ends up getting hit in the face. “ Macron gains advantage over presidential rivals as Ukraine war breaks out - POLITICO

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