French President Emmanuel Macron wins the first round of the presidential election with 28% and will contest the second round against right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen (23%)

As was the case five years ago, President Emmanuel Macron and the right-wing Marine Le Pen prevailed this Sunday in the first round of the presidential election, according to the (very accurate) estimates of the results. Many things can be reproached to the centrist leader – his balance sheet is full of chiaroscuro – but there is no doubt that he is a genius of political strategy. After 2017 and the 2019 Europeans, he has managed to install again in French politics the duel between Macronism and Lepenism (right). A pulse in which he has every chance of winning, but he cannot rush to claim victory either.

Macron won more comfortably than the last polls predicted. In the end, the French president was the most voted candidate with 27.6% of the votes, according to the estimates announced at eight o’clock in the evening. Le Pen came in second with 23% of the votes. Will the centrist leader’s lead be enough to win a comfortable re-election? It will be known on April 24 (second round) in the evening.

For the second round in a fortnight’s time, the centrist candidate has several advantages. Thanks to his “grand coalition” between center-right and center-left, and perhaps also benefited by a “national unity” effect due to the war in Ukraine, he increased by more than three points his 2017 result. In addition, the Socialists, the Republican right, the Greens and the Communists called for a vote for him in the interest of rallying against the right.

“No vote for Mrs. Le Pen!”, “No vote for Mrs. Le Pen!”, “No vote for Mrs. Le Pen!”, cried up to three times the insubordinate Jean-Luc Mélenchon (ecosocialist), the third man of these elections, who remained at the gates of the second place, less than one point behind the leader of the National Regroupment (RN, extreme right). In spite of having been climbing in the polls since mid-March, he did not achieve the desired ‘sorpasso’ for the French left. The leader of Unsubmissive France obtained 22.2% of the votes, according to estimates. Undoubtedly, this is an important result for Podemos’ partners in France, but insufficient to unseat the ultra leader.

Turnout fell in France, but did not sink. An estimated 74% of voters went to the polls this Sunday. This represents a four-point drop compared to the first round in 2017 (78%). After municipal elections in 2020 and regional elections last year marked by a very low turnout, abstention was one of the factors to be taken into account.

The election of the head of state monopolizes political life in France, where historically there was massive voting in these elections. But after the war in Ukraine overshadowed the campaign in the media and there were no televised debates, there were fears that this presidential election would surpass the abstention record of 29% set in the first round in 2002. In the end, the turnout was slightly higher than twenty years ago.

However, one of Macron’s challenges for the second round will be to mobilize the electorate of the other parties. As already happened in 2017, a significant increase in abstention between the first and the second round cannot be ruled out. Indeed, according to the latest polls, the centrist leader would prevail with 54% of the vote to Le Pen’s 46%. The electoral suspense has not yet completely disappeared in France.

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