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Macron and Le Pen start the final sprint in the upcoming French election

President Emmanuel Macron has begun an intense hunt for working-class votes across France to secure a victory over resurgent far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the second and final round of the campaign. presidential election on April 24.

Macron went on Monday to meet voters in Denain, a poor post-industrial town in northern France where Le Pen has won significant support and will visit another stronghold of his opponents. his in eastern France on Tuesday.

Le Pen also restarted its campaign on Monday with a scheduled trip to northern Burgundy to talk to farmers about inflation and the high costs of inputs like fuel and fertilizer.

inside first round on Sunday, Macron and Le Pen qualified to run – as they did in the last election in 2017 – with 28% and 23% of the vote respectively.

Despite leading in the first round, the liberal president faces what his supporters say will be a very tight re-election race, because many of those who voted for 10 The disqualified candidate leans toward Le Pen’s protectionist economic policies and her brand of anti-immigration. , Eurosceptic Nationalism.

In Denain, more than a third of eligible residents did not vote on Sunday and among those mostly voted for Le Pen or far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

In both that town and the site of Macron’s planned campaign stop on Tuesday, voters appreciated Le Pen’s focus on the rising cost of living, especially the rise in cost of living. diesel and gasoline prices since the start of the Ukraine war.

Marine Le Pen at her campaign headquarters in Paris
Marine Le Pen arrives at her campaign headquarters in Paris on Monday © Yves Herman / Reuters

Macron will seek to shed his image as a lost elitist and emphasize the benefits for ordinary people from economic reforms and a full employment scheme, while pointing points out the flaws in Le Pen’s manifesto on inward protectionism and ‘localism’.

Like Le Pen, he has offered his former opponents the role of running the country in an urgent bid to secure their votes in the next two weeks.

Macron told supporters on Sunday night: “I am ready to invent something new to bring together many different beliefs and sensibilities to build with them a common project that serves my country. us in the coming years.

Le Pen continues to speak out against immigration and crime but repeated on Sunday night that she wants to be “the president of all French”.

Richard Ferrand, the head of Macron’s party in Congress, acknowledged that the president would have to get through a head-on attack on Le Pen’s policies targeting Muslims and immigrants.

“When you tell the French that the far right reminds us of the sound of street jackboots, you can see that doesn’t work,” Ferrand told FranceInfo radio on Monday. “So we have to go deeper and explain what we are proposing and what exactly Ms. Le Pen is suggesting.”

Bruno Cautrès, a professor of politics at Sciences Po, said the campaign over the next two weeks would be “very intense”. Macron will struggle to convince left-wing voters of his sincerity, and unlike 2017 – when he was a political newcomer from the liberal center – he now faces a front.” anti-Macron” as his opponent faces the same “anti-Le Pen” match that stripped her of her victory five years ago.

“And if Macron wins, it won’t be the same victory as 2017. It will be much harder for him and his reform campaign,” Ms. Cautrès said. “He has to meet the demands of social justice. . . There will be strong political tensions.”

An anti-Macron protester in Denain
An anti-Macron protester in Denain on Monday © Ludovic Marin / AFP / Getty Images

Even on Sunday’s election night, hundreds of anti-fascist and anti-capitalist protesters had to be dispersed by police after taking to the streets in Rennes and Lyon, recalling some anti-government. gilets jaunes The protests spanned the first half of Macron’s presidency.

Meanwhile, losing candidates and political parties have begged for cash from their supporters. Valérie Pécresse of conservative Les Républicains scores below 5% of the threshold at which the state reimburses campaign costs.

She said the party was in “crisis” after spending 7 million euros without being repaid, while she herself was saddled with a personal debt of 5 million euros. “I urgently need your help,” she said on Monday. “It’s about the survival of Les Républicains and of the republic.”

Europe Ecologie-Les Verts, France’s green party, also said it was in critical financial shape after spending around 6 million euros as its candidate Yannick Jadot scored just 4.6%.

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