Protests were expected across France on Saturday as opponents of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen seek to form a united front to prevent her from winning a run-off election against the incumbent. Emmanuel Macron On April 24th.
Police warned of possible accidents as protesters gathered in 30 cities.
Macron, a centrist of the pro-EU, won the presidency in 2017 after easily defeating Le Pen when voters rallied behind him in the run-off to drive the far right out of power.
This year, the first round of voting ignited the same battle, but Macron faces an even tougher challenge.
He is slightly ahead in the polls, but ahead of the first round on April 10, Le Pen has managed to exploit anger over the cost of living and the perception that Macron is detached from the daily hardships. She received 23.1% of the vote, compared to 27.85% for Macron.
However, she appeared more alarmed this week as the focus shifted to her platform, and polls showed Macron had widened his lead. An Ipsos-Sopra-Steria poll on Friday showed the president winning the run-off with 56% of the vote.
He had the support of former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. Hundreds of celebrities and sports personalities also endorsed him to prevent Le Pen from coming to power.
Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and Eurosceptic stance is exemplified by her, has in recent years sought to soften her image and that of her National Rally party. Opponents, including Macron, have said her platform is riddled with lies and false promises – an accusation Le Pen has rejected.
Once again, the far right is running into the second round of the presidential election, bolstered by a level of support never seen before. “We refuse to see it win power,” the French Human Rights League said in a joint statement announcing the protests, which were signed by dozens of groups, unions and other human rights associations.
Speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in southern France, Le Pen dismissed the planned protests as undemocratic.
“The establishment is concerned,” she said. People protesting the election results is totally undemocratic. I say to all these people, go and vote. It’s that easy.”
with the The electorate is fragmented and undecidedThe candidate who can bypass his camp to convince voters that the other option would be much worse is likely to win the election.
For decades, the “Republican Front” of voters of all stripes rallying behind the mainstream candidate has helped keep the far right out of power.
But Macron, whose harsh style and policies that veered to the right at times have upset many voters, can no longer automatically count on that support.
Climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion were forced to close a main square in central Paris on Saturday, in protest of both candidates’ environmental programs.
“This election leaves us no choice between a far-right candidate with hateful ideas…and a candidate who put the environmental issue aside in five years and lied,” Lu, 26, a history teacher, who joined the environmental movement two years ago, told Reuters.
Anti-Macron protesters will also meet in Paris on Saturday.
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