On the eve of the second round of the presidential elections that will be held this coming Sunday, our colleagues in Fipra France give us a short update on the campaign.

  • Sunday May 7th, the second round of the presidential election will be a face-off between Emmanuel Macron (24.01%) and Marine Le Pen (21.30%) — attached the bios of the two candidates–. The results of the first round were consistent with what opinion pollsters had been predicting for weeks regarding the order in which the leading 4 candidates would finish the race (François Fillon in 3rd place with 20.01% and Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 4th place with 19.58% of the votes).
  • Emmanuel Macron has been since the favorite in the race despite a complicated first week, where he withstood the aggressive attacks by Marine Le Pen and seemed to be somewhat destabilized and not coming across what was at stake;
  • The debate between the two rounds on Wednesday May 3rd is unlikely to move the needle direction in particular as it did allow Emmanuel Macron to win back some lost ground and gain new voters.
    There are, however, two factors that could play into the hands of Marine Le Pen this Sunday:
  • High abstention rates, partly due to the certainty in public opinion that Macron will be the winner;
  • The rejection by militants on the far-left and the far-right of what Emmanuel Macron is perceived to represent.
    This being said, the gap between the two contenders remains relatively wide (around 10/12 points this morning) and the dynamic is on Emmanuel Macron’s side. The time is now running out for them to score points, as the campaign formally ends at midnight tonight.
  • Analysis
  • The results of the first round confirm the political shake-up with the elimination of the two historic governing parties before the second round of the election, namely The Republicans (this being the first time this has happened to the center-right since the 1950s), and the Socialist Party, and will herald in a period of internal, and probably external, reorganization and rebuilding for both parties;
  • The political nature of Marine Le Pen has induced the historic governing parties to take positions of support or abstention that cut across the traditional cleavages:
    • The Socialists (outgoing majority, center-left) have unanimously asked their supporters to vote for Emmanuel Macron;
    • The Republicans (center-right) are already preparing for the legislative elections and have called to vote for Emmanuel Macron as President, and then contain him by winning the next battle: the legislative elections;
    • The more radical left has remained ambiguous so as not to alienate their anti-establishment populist reservoir.
  • The right is already divided between those who are betting on a coalition government  and already announced that they would be ready to participate to a Macron administration, and  those who are playing on a “cohabitation” government (power-sharing arrangement where the President is from a different political party from the majority of the members of Parliament where the President has a more limited role –Foreign Affairs, appointments, passage of laws– and is, so to speak, the government’s chief adversary);
  • For its part, the National Front is continuing to develop its anti-elite strategy, and trying to make up for its missing points by reaching out both to the populist electorate of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the most nationalist and reactionary elements of the electorate of François Fillon.
  • To be followed

Regardless of the ultimate victor (in all likelihood Emmanuel Macron), the leeway that the next President will have will depend on:

  • His/her number of votes, as well as the gap with his/her competitor;
  • The results of the legislative elections this coming June 11th and 18th.
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