President Emmanuel Macron confronts Marine Le Pen

The second – and final round of voting – sees centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron take on far-right and nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen.

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French citizens are going to vote on Sunday in a presidential election that comes amid the war in Ukraine and a cost-of-living crisis.

The second – and final round of voting – sees the center incumbent Emmanuel Macron against the nationalist and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The same pair were also in the last stream going back to the 2017 election, but political commentators believe Le Pen has improved his chances this time around.

“While Macron is likely to be re-elected on Sunday, about 13-15% of voters are still undecided. So there’s still room for surprises,” said Antonio Barroso, deputy research director at the private firm. consult Teneo, said in a research note. Thursday.

Barroso said that one potential path to a Le Pen victory would be if a significant number of voters who chose leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round suddenly switched to the far right instead of staying at home or give up. abstain from voting.

One poll On Thursday, it was predicted that Macron would win the second round with 55% of the vote, with Le Pen at 45%. However, this is a smaller margin when compared with the final results of the 2017 French elections. At the time, Macron crushed Le Pen’s party (the National Front which was later renamed the National Rally) with 66.1% of the vote, to 33.9%.

“Opinion polls are currently giving Macron an edge over Le Pen of between 55% and 45%. Over the past five years, polls have not diminished support for Le Pen. However, with up to 25 % of voters still undecided earlier this week, we can’t make a verdict, analysts at Berenberg said in a research note on Friday, delivering an uncomfortable victory for Le Pen, co. Time added that “a lot of things are at stake for France and the EU.”

Le Pen has softened her rhetoric towards the European Union since 2017. She is no longer campaigning for France to leave the EU and the euro, saying she wants to turn the bloc into a union of nations – change Basically how it works. She also wants the French military to move away from NATO’s military command.

“Le Pen’s narrow ‘France First’ approach and her desire to put her own French rules above those of the EU would cause continued conflict with the EU, damaging to business environment and scare off foreign investors. France will step back,” Berenberg analysts said.

They added: “She wants to maintain the outdated economic structure through subsidies and regulation. She is toying with the idea of ​​reducing the retirement age from 62 to 60 after 40 or 42 years of work, while Macron wants increase retirement age to 65.”

The debate on television

University of Warwick professor of French politics Jim Shields told CNBC on Wednesday that Macron had the difficult task of defending his five years in office but also presenting a new vision for the future.

“Le Pen, this round, can play a more transformative role than Macron,” he said. “What he has to do is show empathy, get off his horse, try to show that he cares about people’s day-to-day concerns, that he’s not the chairman of the rich but a lot of people. who accuses him of being,” he added, referring to rising inflation in France, which has become a mainstay of Le Pen’s campaign.

“Each of the two candidates needs to try to correct their perceived weakness. For Le Pen, lack of credibility, for Macron, lack of connection, lack of empathy, to attract voters. new,” Shields said.

If Macron is re-elected, he will become the first incumbent in two decades to return to a second term. Yields on 10-year French government bonds rose in the run-up to the election, breaking above 1% in early April amid growing concerns about inflation and war in Ukraine.

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