Two days before voting in this two-sided runoff, French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be in the driver’s seat. French voters, however, love surprises – and leaders in all EU capitals are nervous at the lingering prospect that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen could land a surprise.
Yesterday, three EU prime ministers joined to publicly support another five-year mandate for Mr Macron if France votes again on Sunday.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Head of State Antonio Costa jointly wrote a letter of support in the French daily newspaper Le Monde.
The trio argued that France faces “a choice between a democratic candidate… and a far-right candidate who openly allies himself with those who are attacking our freedom and democracy”. They hope voters will vote for a France that has been a “beacon of democracy”.
The letter sums up a mood of fear in Brussels and most EU capitals that Ms Le Pen – a Eurosceptic – could brave the odds and win. This is despite yesterday’s polls suggesting Mr Macron still has 56 per cent of the vote.
The former banker’s leadership holds even after a grueling two-and-a-half hour televised debate between the two on Wednesday night, watched by over 15 million French people.
Polls showed a majority of voters thought Mr Macron won that one. The French popular daily newspaper Le Parisien said Ms Le Pen had shown she was incapable of leading.
However, she is not without hope. She is all too aware of the fierce antagonism Mr. Macron arouses in ordinary citizens.
This has prompted Ms Le Pen to step up her appeal as the “mother of the nation” by standing up for “the forgotten” and those affected by the rising cost of living.
Forecasts suggest turnout could be close to 70 percent. That would be the lowest level since 1969. There is also an expectation that some eligible voters will throw in blank ballots.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/macron-fancied-but-le-pen-could-still-defy-odds-41575861.html Macron introduced himself, but Le Pen was still able to defy the odds