Low turnout predicted as Macron and Le Pen face off in final vote

TURNOUT for the presidential election on Sunday could drop to an almost record low for France, a study predicts.

5 May 2017
By Oliver Rowland

Almost one in four voters may not turn out, says the Odexa institute in a study for France Info – and the level could approach the record for the Fifth Republic, of 69%, in 1969.

Furthermore more than half of voters are planning to vote more out of rejection for the ‘wrong’ candidate, than out of enthusiasm for the one they will vote for, the body said.

Left-wing voters, especially those who voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round are the most likely to be planning to abstain.

Even so, the study confirmed that voters found Emmanuel Macron the most ‘convincing’ of the candidates in Wednesday night’s debate – 48% to 19%.

While recent polls show Mr Macron in the lead at 61% to 39%, experts have pointed out that a win for Ms Le Pen is still technically possible if there are especially high levels of abstentions and votes blancs (blank votes).

Writing in Libération, historian François Durpaire says such a result is no less “improbable” than the election of Donald Trump in America last year had appeared from pre-election polls.

Interviewed for today’s Nice-Matin, Mr Macron said: “Nothing is certain yet and that’s why I’ll be fighting to the end. I want to convince people, explain my programme and the weakness and dangers of hers.”

He said Le Pen’s manifesto would mean France “turning in on itself”, leading to “isolationism, protectionism, nationalism, and so to war.”

He added that her policy of returning to the franc for use within France but using the euro for international trade was “a completely ridiculous scenario” which has never been done apart from in Cuba and the Soviet Union.

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Campaigning last night in the Somme Ms Le Pen sought again to rally support with claims to represent “the people”, after a debate performance which many people judged lacklustre.

“I represent the people, bursting into the old-fashioned, closed circle of the elites,” she said.

Her campaign coordinator Jean Messiha tweeted: “Patriots, get a grip on yourselves. Where is your faith in France?”

In a profile piece on the candidates today Nice-Matin notes that Mr Macron, if elected, will be the youngest president of the Fifth Republic and “presents a new face of the political class”.

On a personal level, his strong marriage to a much older woman has often been commented on, the paper notes, and in that respect he has defied convention unapologetically. He is described by an Elysée insider as “full of elegance, intellectual vivacity and political sense”.

The paper says his weak points include a certain air of self-satisfaction and “arrogance of the powerful”, which nonetheless masks “a certain amount of doubt” and a “thirst to please”.

He gives the impression he is eager and ready “to do a lot”, which the paper says may be why former US president Barack Obama has given his support.

Marine Le Pen, meanwhile is, at least in private, a bonne vivante and good company, Nice-Matin says – “simple, a bit bohemian, and a woman to whom family time is sacred”. However as a politician she is a “fighter”, who “gives off an image of toughness”.

Born a Le Pen and immersed in politics from a young age – including when, aged eight the family had to move out after a bomb attack on her father – she had to toughen up and developed a “will to polish up the family image and take up again the fight of patriotism”, Nice-Matin says.

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