Elections in France: Macron and Le Pen fight for the leftist voter of Jean-Luc Mélenchon | International

Supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Sunday in Paris.
Supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Sunday in Paris.EMMANUEL DUNAND (AFP)

There is today in France no voter so courted and flattered. He is the one who on Sunday, in the first round of the presidential elections, chose the ballot of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the populist left and third most voted. The two with the most popular support, President Emmanuel Macron and his rival Marine Le Pen, have launched themselves to conquer these 7.7 million voters who will be decisive in the second round on April 24.

Macron tries to conquer these citizens, hostile to his policies and in many cases to his person, with winks to the left and promises to soften his most unpleasant reforms, such as pensions. Also with calls to curb the extreme right. And he tries to revive the battered republican front: the cordon sanitaire to prevent Le Pen from gaining power. Le Pen, to seduce the melenchonists, appeals to the vote of anger against Macron. That malaise that broke out with the revolt of the yellow vests.

“In the 2022 elections”, the essayist Dominique Moïsi, author of The geopolitics of emotion, “there is an opposition between anger, against Macron and the elites, and fear: the fear of the arrival of the extreme right to power in France”.

Macron was the most voted on Sunday with 27.85% of votes. Le Pen took out 23.15%. The president starts with an advantage; His rival is further from the president than in the first round of 2017, when he separated them by less than 3%. Both face a similar challenge: expanding the base. That is, add votes that in the first round went to other candidates, or abstentionists, to reach 50%.

Mélenchon was the third most voted in the first round. He was eliminated, because only the first two pass. But his good result –21.95% of the vote, only 400,000 short of the classification– makes his voters the most precious asset of these two weeks of campaigning.

On election night, Le Pen declared: “I call on French people of all sensibilities, left, right or elsewhere, and French people of all origins to join in the great national and popular regroupment.” Macron said: “I solemnly invite our fellow citizens, whatever their sensitivity and their choice in the first round, to join us.”

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


Macron has received the support of the socialist, communist, environmentalist candidates and the moderate right of the Republicans. If all these voters opted for Macron in the second round, he would obtain 41.29% of the vote. Former Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Tuesday that he would vote for him.

Le Pen has received the support of ultra pundits Éric Zemmour and the small right-wing candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. With them, he would reach 32.28%.

But the second round is never an automatic sum. Voters do not blindly obey their candidate. In the case of the Republicans, party leaders are inclined either to abstain or Le Pen.

And all these votes —those of those defeated with less than 10%— are not enough. Those of Mélenchon are needed. The left-wing leader declared: “Not a single vote should be given to Mrs Le Pen.” This does not exclude abstention or blank voting.

Macron wants to convince the voters of the populist left with the argument that only voting for him stops the extreme right. He is not rights, he assures him. Although he has governed with right-wing prime ministers and conservative ministers in key positions such as the Interior, and he has applied or tried to apply reforms — that of the labor market, or that of pensions — that he usually defends the right.

A survey by the Ipsos institute, carried out on election night, indicates that 36% of Mélenchon voters will abstain in the second round; 34% will go to Macron and 30% to Le Pen. Macron would win with 54% of the votes against Le Pen, with 46%. Other institutes forecast a narrower margin.

Macron has promised to soften his proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. He has moved to towns hit by deindustrialization where Le Pen and Mélenchon are hegemonic. And he appeals to the fear of a France governed by the extreme right: a referendum against Le Pen.

It will not be easy to convince the melenchonists. “Today I cannot say that, the day after the first round, I will vote for Macron,” he told the newspaper. liberation the writer Annie Ernaux, supporter of Mélenchon. “In these 15 days, you have to question him, demand answers and commitment.”

Le Pen proposes a referendum against Macron and appeals to the 72% of French people who did not vote for him on Sunday. His message is that if they want to kick him out, she is the option. And he affirms that she is the candidate “of the purchasing power of decent wages and pensions, of a quality health system accessible to everyone everywhere, and decent housing.”

With her anti-elitist and social economic rhetoric, Le Pen could end up scaring conservatives. The same thing happens to Macron: he needs to make some concessions to Mélenchon, but without bothering the center-right base. The seduction of melenchonists It is a game of risky balances. And, for both, the key to victory.

Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

Exclusive content for subscribers

read without limits

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button