Macron hammer blow as Le Pen 'more in tune with daily issues'
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Today, France decides whether to make Ms Le Pen the first female French President in history, or grant incumbent Emmanuel Macron another five year term. In the final day leading up to the election, Mr Macron appears to have opened up a lead on his far-right rival, with an Ipsos poll published on Thursday projecting him to win 57.5 percent of the vote, against Ms Le Pen’s 42.5 percent. Elsewhere, a BVA poll published on Friday (April 22) suggests Mr Macron could win by a margin of 11 points.
Nevertheless, the election could be swung by the number of potential abstentions, after a quarter of the voters in the first round a fortnight ago failed to cast a vote.
In turn, both Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen are looking to appeal to the 7.7million people who voted for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round.
Despite Ms Le Pen’s achrtypal nationalistic and hardline approach to immigration and the EU, she has attempted to appeal to the left-wing vote with a promise to address the cost of living crisis.
Professor Smith, a contemporary politics professor at the University of Chichester, noted that Ms Le Pen has found “real success” in projecting herself as a “normal” candidate, while presenting Mr Macron as chaotic.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk: “That was her greatest trick ‒ to convince people that she was normal.
“There has been a detoxification for Le Pen, so there has been a success there.
“She quietly stayed off the main stage, held lots of individual meetings, lots of small rallies and events in suburbs talking exclusively about purchasing power [cost of living].
“[She was] talking about Macron as the one creating chaos, and she was the one for stability.
“So that I think has been her real success.”
Ms Le Pen has promised to completely eliminate VAT on some foods and essential household goods as well as cutting the tax rate from 20 percent to five percent on petrol and electricity.
The National Rally leader has also pledged to set France on a new, protectionist, economic course, and make significant tax cuts.
Ms Le Pen’s economic commitments have been crystallised in her campaign slogan “Give the French their money back.”
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Professor Rainbow Murray, a French politics expert at Queen Mary University of London, told Express.co.uk that the cost of living crisis was Mr Macron’s “weak spot”, due to his reputation as the “President of the rich”.
Prof Murray said: “The cost of living crisis is a huge issue, it’s the number one preoccupation of the French, and it’s Macron’s weak spot.
“He’s done quite well in terms of bringing down unemployment and keeping the economy on a relatively even keel considering there’s been a pandemic.
“But he’s seen as the President of the rich, and he’s seen as defending the interests of the rich, and he’s therefore seen as completely tone deaf to the needs of the everyday French person who is struggling with the rise in prices.
“That is where Le Pen has managed to capture that elecorial market.
“The people that are disaffected, who feel that Macron has ignored them, has neglected them or that he just doesn’t care what they’re dealing with.”
She added: “When you actually look at [Ms Le Pen’s] manifesto she doesn’t actually have brilliant policies for dealing with the cost of living crisis.
“Most of her manifesto is about immigration, as it always has been, but she’s not been talking about that.
“She’s been talking about what’s in people’s pockets, what they can afford to spend, and that message has resonated in a way that he hasn’t.”
Mr Macron spent his last days of the campaign in Northern France defending his own economic record.
Since taking office five years ago he has lowered unemployment, capped energy prices and created a number of industrial jobs, decades after the closure of a string of factories.
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