The presidential campaign has entered its home country, with a weekend of meetings planned in all directions, in a climate of deep insecurity for the French in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
Two weeks to convince. Undoubtedly, a presidential campaign under the Fifth Republic has never been so atypical in the context of health crisis and then war on the European continent, in Ukraine. The campaign had trouble getting started and the presidential candidates struggled to make their voices heard in front of a sitting president who declared himself late. Emmanuel Macron remains the big favorite in the first round, according to opinion polls.
Everything could be played on these 15 days
But 16 days before the vote, on April 10, nothing has been decided yet and the lines may still move as the French appear hesitant or withdraw from a campaign that has not mobilized much so far. And they say that according to opinion polls, they are particularly concerned about their purchasing power in the face of rising fuel or food prices.
“War in Ukraine, absence of debate, feeling too – and the polls play a role – that things are settled, that there is not much tension, all this together is unlikely to mobilize the crowds,” emphasizes Adélaïde Zulfikarpasic, director of BVA Opinion, who speaks of “a sense of discomfort among voters” and of a “quiet campaign”. For this expert, “everything suggests that it is in this last straight line that the elections will crystallize”.
Emmanuel Macron barely leads campaigns
His entourage says so and even begins to worry: Emmanuel Macron, monopolized by the conflict in Ukraine, is barely campaigning. The head of state was still in Brussels on Friday, attending an EU summit dedicated to the war in Ukraine, a meeting that has taken some delays.
By sweeping the accusations that he wants to step over the presidential appointment, the majority keeps repeating that he will be president until the last quarter and explains his reduced presence in the campaign with this context. “There is a particularly serious international situation. He must go to the bridge to protect the French (…) as soon as he can, he is also a candidate, “said Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne, Friday the 1st Europe.
No travel, no crowds, no TV debate: It looks like minimum service for the presidential candidate, leading in the polls, with about 30% of voting intentions in the first round, although a slight erosion has been observed in recent days. He is ahead of RN candidate Marine Le Pen, who is credited with around 20% and is benefiting from an upward momentum with a view to a possible remake of the 2017 presidential election.
Hectic visit for Zemmour
The four main candidates on the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Yannick Jadot, Anne Hidalgo and Fabien Roussel are holding meetings this weekend. The leader of the LFI hopes to be able to surf on a good momentum, which currently brings him to third place. The others want to stay afloat.
Following the success of its Paris march last weekend, the Insoumis candidate is preparing to do it again on Sunday during a meeting in Marseille, which should also attract the public, on the Prado beach. Mr. Mélenchon is the best-placed on the left – credited with between 12.5 and 15% – and appeals to voters’ “moral responsibility” to climb to the second round. “The only real question in my opinion today is whether Jean-Luc Mélenchon can create a surprise. On paper, it could,” Ms Zulfikarpasic stressed again, but assesses that this scenario “is not the most likely”.
To the right and far right, LR candidate Valérie Pécresse, positive for Covid-19, on Friday and Saturday had to cancel several trips she, on the contrary, intended to multiply them to mobilize her divided electorate. “The context is what it is, it does not help, in a campaign that is terribly difficult,” Jean-François Copé acknowledged at RMC on Friday, where he spoke about the “difficulty” for the candidate “getting his message across to French. For today their minds are elsewhere.
As for Eric Zemmour, who is more and more distanced, he hopes to gather tens of thousands of people at the Trocadero on Sunday in Paris for a “power show”. The former polemicist had a hectic morning hit by a bottle of water, projectiles and a series of insults during a media visit to the Porte de la Villette in Paris among drug addicts and migrants. “It’s apocalyptic, that’s how France will be everywhere in ten years,” he said in front of the camp.