Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen? In Sunday’s elections, the French chose their new head of state and the future course of their country. Nearly 49 million voters were invited to decide in the run-off between incumbent President Macron and his right-wing populist rival Le Pen. According to observers, much depends on the level of voter turnout. The outcome is also likely to have consequences for the future of the European Union.
Macron, 44, and his wife Brigitte went to the polls in Le Touquet on the English Channel, where they own a vacation home. Le Pen, 53, cast her ballot in her northern French stronghold of Henin-Beaumont. Both candidates sought to speak to supporters and voters again.
According to the Ministry of Interior, turnout at 5 pm was 63.23 percent, less than two percentage points lower than it was five years ago (65.30 percent) at the same time. It was also nearly two points lower than it was in the first round of voting on April 10.
According to estimates by four opinion think tanks, abstentions are likely to be 28 percent, 2.5 percentage points higher than in 2017. Based on the experience of the past few years, a higher level of abstention was expected, especially since at the time Present. school holidays.
There are big risks for Macron
In the most recent polls, Macron has 56.5 percent, about 10 percentage points ahead of Le Pen, but a far cry from his result in 2017, when the two candidates had previously competed against each other. At the time, Macron won 66.1% to 33.9%, becoming the youngest president of the Fifth Republic at 39 years old.
Observers warned that a massive abstention could narrow the gap between Macron and Le Pen and pose a “real danger” to the liberal incumbent.
Macron and his allies have consistently pointed out that many voters who stayed behind in Britain and the United States in 2016 in anticipation of an apparent outcome made Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US president possible.
“In Macron you know what to expect”
Much is at stake for both France and Europe. Macron promises reforms and greater EU integration, Le Pen wants to deport many foreigners and change the constitution to prioritize France for jobs and social housing – and she is also calling for a Europe of nation-states. If she wins, it could cause an earthquake in the European Union similar to that of Brexit.
Laetitia, 43, in the middle-class neighborhood of Marseille, lamented that empty ballot envelopes were not counted. I voted “because it matters” but without conviction.
In the village of Klang in Moselle County, where nearly 42 percent voted for Le Pen on the first ballot, 57-year-old former driver Dominique Iacuzzo said of the candidates: “In one case you know what to expect, in others you don’t.”
In this election, much will also depend on how supporters of left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who narrowly missed the run-off on the first ballot, decide. Macron is so unpopular with many of them that they say they would rather cast blank or invalid ballot papers or not vote at all.
If Macron wins, he will most likely speak at the foot of the Eiffel Tower
After the first round, Melenchon himself asked his followers not to “give one vote” to Le Pen; However, at the same time, he deliberately did not ask them to vote for Macron.
Polling stations remain open until 7pm, in major cities until 8pm. Elections were held on Saturday in the French overseas territories. The first forecast is expected from 8 pm.
If re-elected, Macron would be the first president to serve a second term since Jacques Chirac in 2002. If he wins, he is expected to deliver a victory speech at the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.