Macron vs Le Pen (part two): how the battle for the French presidency has changed compared to 2017

Five years later, history repeats itself, but under very different circumstances.

Emmanuel Macron intends to become the first president to be re-elected by the French in 20 years, while his old opponent, Marine LePenhas a real shot at the Elysée palace, far greater than five years ago, according to polls.

This Sunday, the current president of the French Republic and the far-right candidate face each other again after being the two most voted candidates in the first round of elections held on April 10.

With 27.85% of the votes, Macron got more than Le Pen, who added 23.15%.

Far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon came in a solid third place with 21.95%, and their votes could define who will be the next president of the second largest economy in the European Union and one of its main engines.

But the uncertainty weighs on the approximately 48 million registered voters on the French electoral rolls.

When Macron and Le Pen first clashed in 2017, the candidate of the newly founded La República en Marcha party had at least two advantages that you no longer have.

He was a new face in a country where the traditional political class was – and continues to be – in decline.

He also promised to modernize the country, with a program more predictable than the radical agenda of his far-right rival.

But his image has worn off.

The popular classes in France accuse him of being “the president of the rich”, while Le Pen He has made an effort to moderate his image and that of his party, which even in 2018 changed its old name from the National Front to one that calls for inclusion: National Association.

Whatever happens, the winner of this new contest will move to the Elysée presidential palace on May 13 and will be at the helm of the world’s seventh largest economy for five years.

Macron remains the favorite in opinion polls, but this time the race is much closer than in 2017when the incumbent president won by 32 percentage points.

A poll by Ifop-Fiducial places the projection for this Sunday at 51% for Macron and 49% for Le Pen, while Ipsos-Sopra Steria gives the current president a wider advantage, 54% against 46%.

These are the two rivals in an election whose results will transcend Europe and the world.

Emmanuel Macron against his image as “president of the rich”

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Emmanuel Macron in Marseille on April 16, 2022.

On May 7, 2017, Emmanuel Macron made history by dethrone Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte for a few months and become, at 39 and a half years old, the youngest president in the history of France.

This Sunday he will try to make history again, but in another category.

Now 44, his goal is to follow in the footsteps of Jacques Chirac in 2002, when he also faced a Le Pen, Marine’s father, and managed to convince the stubborn French people to re-elect him.

After him, former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande also they sought re-election, unsuccessfully.

Macron knows that it is difficult for him and that he needs at least part of the voters of the ultra-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

His call, after knowing the results of the first round, went to having to the far right.

“I invite everyone, including those who did not vote for me in the first round, to support us,” he asked. “Pleasing populism and xenophobia, that is not France.”

Students next to a painting of the candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron.

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For his part, Mélenchon insisted in his speech that “no vote should be given to Le Pen”, but he did not a call his followers to vote for Macron.

Paradoxically, between 18% and 30% of her radical left voters expect to vote for the far-right candidate in the second round, according to different polls released after the results.

And it is that both the voters of Le Pen and those of Mélenchon come mainly from the working classes and it would cost them to vote by a candidate that some brand as the “president of the rich”.

First round results


Born to medical parents on December 21, 1977 in Amiens, Macron had a brilliant education that allowed him to graduate from the prestigious Sciences Po institute.

He continued his studies at the ENA, a public administration school that left-wing politician Jean-Pierre Chevènement has described as the “institute of the bourgeoisie and the French oligarchy.

After graduating in 2005, Macron began his professional career at the French Inspectorate General for Finance.

Three years later his career took a turn when he was hired by the Rothschild bank, of which he became deputy director in just two years.

Campaign posters for candidate Marine Le Pen and re-election candidate Emmanuel Macron.

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In 2012 he held the post of deputy general secretary of the presidency of François Hollande and in 2014 he became Minister of Economy and Finance, a position he would resign two years later to launch his presidential candidacy.

During his five-year term, Macron fulfilled some of his promises, such as the reform of the labor code, which meant, among other things, renewing social dialogue in companies.

He also eased regulations for hiring and firing employees, in addition to cutting taxes, pushing education reforms and passing tough security laws to combat terrorism.

your critics they reproach him having abandoned his promises to reform the country’s pension system and institutions.

But his government managed to reduce unemployment from 10% to 7.4%, although he did not fulfill his promise to bring it below 7%.

There were many crises that Macron faced during his five-year term.

Among the most serious were theBenalla affair” in mid-2018, a scandalous court case that mainly involved Alexandre Benalla, the president’s security officer, who was accused of raping two people and usurping the police function.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidate of the radical left, asked the voters not to give their vote to Marine Le Pen.

Later that year, Macron’s management was shaken by the “yellow vests”, a move that put him in check and that generated violent and massive protests after the Executive’s announcement that it would raise taxes on fuels.

In recent years, Macron’s presidency has been marred by his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently by his mediating role in the war in Ukraine.

Apart from Mélenchon, other candidates have asked their voters not to favor Le Pen, such as the right-wing Valérie Pécresse, who obtained 4.78% of the vote, the socialist Anne Hidalgo (1.75%) and the environmentalist Yannick Jadot ( 4.63%).

What does your program include?

On labor issues, Macron promises full employment within five years, a $16bn-a-year tax cut for households and businesses, and financing it by gradually raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.

As to french and european sovereignty, stated that he would increase military spending and double the number of reservists. He also promises to strengthen the country’s agrarian independence.

Its energy program includes the creation of six nuclear reactors.

It says it will also make it possible to file complaints online and recruit “1,500 cyber patrollers.”

He also promises to reduce the “cumbersome procedures” for asylum applications and wants the denial of asylum to force people to leave French territory.

And, among other things, he affirms that he will seek to give them greater independence to universities and more support for single-parent families.

The “new” Marine Le Pen?

Marine Le Pen during a visit to Lauris, in the south of France, on April 15, 2022.

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Marine Le Pen during a visit to Lauris, in the south of France, on April 15, 2022.

At 53 years old, Marine Le Pen is running for the third time in the presidential elections; this time under a new label, that of her renewed National Association party.

Before entering politics, Marine Le Pen, whose real name is Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen, was a lawyer at the Paris Bar and had a very brief career. defending a immigrants in an irregular situation.

But in 1998 she dropped out of law school and joined the legal team of the National Front, a party she had been involved with since she came of age in 1986.

In 2011, she became party president with 67.65% of the vote, replacing her father, Jean-Marie LePenwho founded the far-right party in 1972.

Jean-Marie is an extremely controversial character in France.

So much so that even his daughter decided to cut all kinds of ties with him in 2015. She suspended him from the party after he made comments Downplaying the Holocaust and praising the Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis.

After losing the 2017 presidential election, he promised a “profound transformation of the National Front.”

Since then, in addition to changing its name, he has tried to moderate his anti-immigration and anti-European discourse. He no longer advocates leaving the common European currency or “Frexit”. He, too, does not want to end dual nationality like before.

Through these years, Le Pen, the youngest of three sisters, has sought to project a more inclusive image, with approaches to the local Jewish community and new generations of North African descent.

Marine LePen

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Since the last presidential election, Marine Le Pen has worked hard to tone down her image.

However, his party, which promotes nationalist ideals, continues to be linked to racist and anti-Semitic discourse by many in France.

Le Pen continues to advocate for reduce immigration and reinforce local production, contrasting patriotism with globalization.

After the publication of the first results on April 10, Le Pen assured that it will be the “president of all french” if elected this Sunday.

He also addressed the issues he campaigned on, including reaffirming the French values, immigration control and security.

Experts also believe that the new far-right contender Éric Zemmour gave Le Pen air.

In this electoral race, the controversial journalist showed more extreme positions than the lawyer, which allowed her to appear more moderate and appeal to a group of voters who considered her too “radical” in the last vote.

Zemmour, who came fourth in the first round with 7%, backs Le Pen for the second round and some experts believe the National Grouping candidate can command the majority of those votes.

Eric Zemour

Eric Zemmour, journalist and far-right candidate who showed his support for Marine Le Pen on Sunday night.

But Le Pen could also seduce many from the other extreme. Indeed, Zemmour has in the past accused Le Pen of “being on the left.”

For some, his economic program resembles that of the candidate of the radical left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Both promise to improve the purchasing power of the population, they intend to maintain the protective State and the celebration of “popular initiative referendums“.

All of this could mean that the second round of elections is taken by many Mélenchon supporters as a kind of referendum against President Macron.

However, a large part of Mélenchon’s electorate has indicated, according to opinion polls, that they will opt for abstention or for a blank or null vote (between 35% and 45%).

What does your program include?

Marine Le Pen promises to put an end to the “abuse” of the right to asylum with a referendum on the restriction of immigration.

Wants end family reunification and process asylum applications only abroad.

In addition, it intends to reserve access to solidarity benefits to those who have worked five years in France, give national priority to access to social housing and employment and systematically deport illegal immigrants and foreign criminals.

In terms of security, he promises to double the number of magistrates and have 85,000 prison places by 2027.

Marine LePen


In economic terms, it proposes reducing VAT from 20% to 5.5% on energy products, allowing companies a 10% salary increase by exempting the increase in employer contributions, and nationalizing highways to reduce the price of tolls by 15%.

It also promises workers under 30 that they will be exempt from paying income tax and says it will eliminate corporate tax for entrepreneurs under 30 for the first five years to prevent them from going abroad.

Le Pen rejects any increase in the retirement age and promises link pensions to inflation.

It also wants to ban the wearing of the Islamic hijab in public areas.

It also seeks to reform the European Union and turn it into an alliance of nations so that they are not questioned by the laws of the body.

For that reason, for many, this Sunday not only the future of France is at stakebut of the European Union and therefore, according to some, of the “free world”.

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