Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron has overtaken his populist right-wing political rival Marine Le Pen by more than expected in the first round of the French presidential election, but has yet to win the runoff on April 24. This became apparent again on Thursday when left-leaning students in Paris occupied buildings at the traditional Sorbonne. There were also street protests and the police used tear gas. Two Sorbonne campuses have been closed for security reasons, or lectures have been postponed or held online.
The student anger was not only directed against the right-wing politician Le Pen, there were also protests against the liberal Macron. A statement circulating online said he refused to accept a second duel between “neoliberal and authoritarian Macron and the proven fascist Le Pen”.
The student protest, as such, would be irrelevant to the French elections if it were not an expression of widespread discontent. Nearly half of French youth stayed away from the polls on the first ballot. Among those who voted, support was strong for left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third behind Le Pen. He has toured around the country with social and political promises – such as lowering the retirement age – that would be difficult to implement in practice. Melenchon called on his supporters not to vote for Le Pen under any circumstances. However, he could not make a recommendation for Macron.
The race for the current head of state on April 24 could be close. Because Macron will also need votes from Melenchon voters to be able to win. However, voters of the left-wing politician are closer to Le Pen socially and politically than to business-friendly Macron. And many of them will likely stay at home on April 24 rather than vote for an incumbent.
Some may even drop their inhibitions about voting for the right-wing candidate – the daughter of far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who reached the 2002 run-off against conservative President Jacques Chirac, but has been trying for years. to calm their speech. Le Pen has also shed her political stances: In the last presidential election in 2017, France called for leaving the eurozone and the European Union, which frightened many would-be voters, and she has these plans – which in 2017 prompted some to choose Macron again. As a candidate for the election of institutions – now withdrawn.
Cautious statement by the bishops of France
The fact that there is no longer any talk of a united republican front against Le Pen, like the one against her father in 2002, is also shown by a rather cautious statement by the French bishops, which reveals no clear preferences for any of these. candidates. You do not choose a “savior of France” or a messiah, she said, but you choose a man or a woman who can lead the country “on the path of least bad.”(leg)
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