24 February 2022, The Tablet

France in flux

French presidential election

France in flux

Torn posters with the faces of Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo and Emmanuel Macron
Photo: Alamy/Sipa, Laurent Coust


Divisions on the Left and on the Right of Emmanuel Macron may augur the end of France’s traditional political party system

With only six weeks remaining before the first round of the French presidential election, any sense of rising excitement has been doused by the continuing silence of the leading candidate, Emmanuel Macron. By refusing – at the time of writing – to confirm that he intends to run for a second term, the president has smothered his rivals in a wet blanket of frustration, while using his official functions to monopolise the limelight and conduct an undeclared re-election campaign at public expense.
This tactic has secured him a comfortable lead in the opinion polls – where he averages 25 per cent of the vote. President Macron is able to do this because under the constitution, the candidates’ list remains open until 4 March. He has let it be known that his failure to engage has been solely due to the pressing nature of his wider responsibilities. But he will have been delighted to see that – according to a recent Ifop-LCI opinion poll – his nearest rival has, for the first time, become Éric Zemmour, the far-right populist, who has scored 16.5 per cent. Macron is confident that if he is opposed by a candidate from the far Right in the second round, he will be re-elected. The only rival he currently fears is Valérie Pécresse, who carries the colours of the ­centre-right Republican Party (LR).

Three of the leading contenders are now confronted by growing disloyalty among promin­ent members of their own parties. Anne Hidalgo, presiding over the shipwreck that is the Socialist Party’s campaign, is scoring so low in the polls that last week she was urged to withdraw by one of her leading supporters.

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