Macron Holds Decisive Lead Over Le Pen As French Election Heads Into Final Hours
Emmanuel Macron holds a decisive lead over Marine Le Pen as the French Presidential election heads into its final hours.
With just forty-eight hours left to go until they face off in a runoff election, a new poll shows centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron leading Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the far-right National Front:
The front-runner for the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron, extended his lead over rival candidate Marine Le Pen after a strong performance in a televised debate Wednesday, according to an Elabe poll published Friday.
According to the poll, commissioned by BFMTV and L’Express, 62 percent of the electorate would vote for Macron if the election were held today, up from 59 percent last week. A total of 38 percent would vote for Le Pen.
Pollsters suggested Macron’s jump in popularity also came as a result of supporters of vanquished first-round candidates coalescing around him to oppose Le Pen, a phenomenon known as the “republican front,” local media reported. Around 53 percent of those who indicated they would back Macron said they would do so in order to bring down the far-right candidate.
These numbers are consistent with most of the polling since the first round of the election where Macron and Le Pen ended up finishing first and second respectively. The poll tracker for the British newspaper The Telegraph, for example, shows Macron averaging 61.8% of the vote to Le Pen’s 38.2% and the Pollster average for the French election shows Macron averaging 60.8% and Le Pen down at 39,3%. While these results show Le Pen garnering more than twice as much support as her father did when he was defeated in the 2002 runoff election by Jacques Chirac by a more than sixty-point margin, it nonetheless marks what would be a significant defeat for the National Front in an election that many feared would take on many of the same populist characteristics that resonated in last year’s Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and in the American Presidential election last November. While polling does seem to indicate that Le Pen has picked up some support from the 21.5% of the vote that she received in the first round, it also shows that the vast majority of the support received by the other candidates in that round has gotten behind Macron just as happened for Chirac fifteen years ago. If these numbers hold up, then Macron will be headed for a decisive win on Sunday.
It is, of course, entirely possible that the polling is wrong and that Le Pen will perform better than what we’re seeing. Much of that will depend on the actual voter turnout on Sunday and what the supporters of the candidates who did not qualify for the runoff, the majority of who have endorsed Macron and urged their supporters to vote for him to block Le Pen from any chance of winning. In that regard, Le Pen’s supporters are no doubt relying on a repeat of what happened in Britain and the United States last year. However, there are several differences between those two examples and what appears to be occurring in France. In the case of both the Brexit vote last June and the American election in November, for example, the final polling was much closer than what we are currently seeing in France. In Great Britain, the final pre-election polling showed that there was only a gap of a few points difference between “Remain’ and ‘Leave’ in the Brexit Referendum. As it turned out, the turnout differed sufficiently from the polling samples that ‘Leave’ managed to pull out a win. In the elections that took place here in November, the national polling actually ended up being fairly close to the final result of the popular vote, while the disparity was at the state level, where polling in a few key states that small differences between actual turnout and the polling samples meant that Donald Trump ended up winning an Electoral College victory that, but for less than 78,000 total votes in three states, would have gone the other way. In France, though, the polls are giving Macron a more than twenty point lead over Le Pen. In order for those results to be wrong, the polling would have to be wildly inaccurate. Given the fact that the final polling in the first round turned out to be fairly close to the final results, this seems unlikely.
Sunday’s runoff won’t be the end of the road, however, as The Washington Post explains:
Sunday may be the second and final round of the French presidential election. But whoever wins will need to secure yet another victory in June during the legislative elections.
If the next French president in unable to capture the lower house of Parliament, he or she will face years of governing without being able to rely on a majority of lawmakers. Although French presidents have more powers than leaders in many other nations, they still need their parties to push through legislative changes.
With France’s traditional parties in disarray and a growing split along ideological lines, the winner is likely to be forced to cooperate with other parties and reach out to opponents.
It’s a scenario that already reminds some of Trump’s deadlock with Congress, where Democrats and some Republicans are challenging the president.
Since Macron is in large respects a man without a formal party structure behind him, this presents him with a scenario where he will likely be forced to forge alliances with a wide variety of parties in the legislature in order to get his agenda enacted. For Le Pen and the National Front, meanwhile, it means the possibility of making up for what seems like an impending loss in the Presidential election with gains in the legislature that increases the party’s voice in Paris. Even a performance consistent with Le Pen’s showing in the first round two weeks ago, where she garnered just over 21% of the vote would mean some significant gains for the National Front in the legislature. It’s worth noting, however, that the National Front has consistently been unable to capitalize on whatever national popularity her or her father may have at a given point in time. That suggests that the Front will not be able to capitalize on Le Pen’s gains in the polls and that the French electorate will once again reject the message that Le Pen and her party represent.