Macron and Le Pen adopt opposing strategies ahead of election run-off

Since the rallies of last week, the two candidates have reduced their media presence in preparation for the debate they will hold Wednesday evening (20 April), which will be broadcast on TF1 and France 2. EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra [EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra]

With five days to go before the final run-off of the French presidential election, the two remaining candidates are adopting opposing strategies as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen wants to be viewed as ‘presidential material’ while President Emmanuel Macron aims to get closer to the people. EURACTIV France reports.

Getting closer to the people

Macron is giving many the impression – including opponents from all sides – that he is disconnected from reality and cannot understand the worries ordinary French people face.

This is why Macron held long rallies across France, including in regions that did not favour his candidacy. The day after he came first in the first round, he spoke for 10 hours to inhabitants of the Hauts-de-France region who overwhelmingly voted Le Pen. He also went to Le Havre, a commune that favoured far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to discuss issues like the environment and industry.

He has since repeated this process almost every day in separate locations and held interviews with the regional radio or press each time – a way of getting as close as possible to voters to explain his record and projects if re-elected.

Cameras are of course always in the vicinity – giving the president a chance to show he is not the “president of the rich”, a top official and investment banker disconnected from reality as many have criticised him for.

Presidential material

For Le Pen, the priorities are different as she is widely perceived – rightly or wrongly – as being close to the people and has made it a point to say she cares about the everyday problems and the purchasing power of her fellow citizens.

Compared to Macron, however, Le Pen does not appear to have what it takes to be president, according to a large part of public opinion and many commentators.

After the first round, Le Pen thus gave long press conferences aimed at showing she had what it takes to be president and to convince those listening that she had a solid command of the issues that she would face if elected – including topics such as foreign affairs, diplomacy and governance.

In the days that followed, Le Pen multiplied her trips in areas that overwhelmingly voted in her favour in the first round. It was as if she wanted to mark the spirits with joyful crowds and a popular craze around her candidacy.

Le Pen sets out blueprint for government

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has unveiled how she plans to govern France if she wins the run-off against incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, stressing that she would rely on  “consulting the people” through referendums.

Preparing the debate

Since the rallies of last week, the two candidates have reduced their media presence in preparation for the debate they will hold Wednesday evening (20 April), which will be broadcast on TF1 and France 2.

Le Pen, who has had several TV appearances in the election run-up, has left the spotlight since Monday midday (18 April), to focus, with the help of some advisers, on preparing the debate from home.

The aim is to avoid her 2017 presidential election run, when she also faced Macron in the run-off appearing somewhat clumsy on several policy questions and even uncomfortable. To convince voters this time, she will have to show she is up to the task, credible and ready to govern.

Macron is also reducing his media presence and continuing to work on current affairs as president. Between a video conference with other heads of state on Ukraine (19 April) and the last Council of Ministers of his five-year term on Wednesday, the hope is to arrive relaxed and ready for Wednesday’s debate.

The debate is all the more important as there are still many undecided and potential abstentionists and the current polls show the gap between both candidates to be small.

Their TV performance could thus be decisive as a blunder or clumsiness would be difficult to make up for with election day being just around the corner.

French elections: all polls and forecasts at a glance

As the second round of the French presidential election is fast approaching, EURACTIV France and Europe Elects have compiled all the polls and projections you need.

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