Sunday

20th May 2018

French candidates in final election push

  • Eleven candidates are contending the French presidential elections on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters)

Five days before the first round of the presidential vote in France, four candidates are so close in polls they could all qualify for the runoff in the country's most unpredictable election in decades.

The centrist Emmanuel Macron and the extreme-right Marine Le Pen are neck-and-neck ahead of Sunday's (23 April) election, according to the Elabe pollster in L'Express, a magazine.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The survey gave Macron 24 percent of the vote and Le Pen 23. The same poll showed the conservative Francois Fillon and the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon winning 19.5 and 18 percent, respectively.

A separate poll in Opinionway, a daily, said Macron was tied with Le Pen on 22 percent, and that Fillon was snapping at their heels on 21 percent followed by Melenchon on 18 percent.

All candidates campaigned over the Easter weekend to convince undecided Frenchmen - one fourth of the electorate.

Le Pen, who has worked to erase the image of racism and anti-Semitism that defined her party for years, returned to her base and stressed anti-migrant messages in her rally on Monday.

Speaking to 5,000 supporters who had gathered in a concert hall in Paris, she promised a "moratorium on illegal immigration to put an end to this delirium, this uncontrolled situation, which drags us to the bottom."

Le Pen was long the favourite in the race, but has lost four percentage points since February according to a count by the Huffington Post.

Her return to hardline immigration messages could scare off more moderate voters in what amounts to a political gamble.

Macron, campaigning in a sports hall in Paris, opted for a message of unity and said he wanted to take "the best of the left, the best of the right and the best of the centre".

The centrist candidate, who has been mocked for his refusal to chose sides, poked fun at himself and commented on his frequent use of the expression "at the same time".

"They say it's a linguistic tic that would mean that I am not clear, that I do not know how to decide, that I would be blurry," he told the 20,000 supporters who had gathered to see him, before reclaiming the expression as his catchpharse.

"Yes, I choose liberty and equality, growth and solidarity, the enterprise and the employees," he said.

Fillon campaigned in Nice, in southern France, where he highlited the fight against terrorism and Islamism as his main theme.

"I want to address myself to all the women who are hidden, mistreated and forced to dress differently in the name of religion. I tell them I will fight on their side to defend their fundamental rights," he said, before accusing the left of aiding the rise of Islamism in the country.

Fillon will, this week, campaign in northern France, where the far-right has been scoring gains.

He has also allied himself with the conservative Catholic voters of the "Common sense" movement, which mobilised large anti-gay demonstrations some years ago.

The unruly barge

Melenchon, a far-left firebrand who is opposed to both Europe and Nato, and whose ratings have been buoyed by his performance in TV debates where he came across as the most humorous candidate.

He has kept campaigning in the same style at the weekend, saying that jokes were the best remedy against national gloominess.

On Monday, he campaigned from a barge, dubbed the "unruly barge", which crossed Paris.

"Here you are listening to a guy on a boat on Easter Monday. There's something in the air!", he told his cheering supporters, while adding that he could lose the election by a "handful of votes".

"It's not true that your only choice is between being hash dealers and working for Uber," he told Parisians strolling around the canals.

He also amplified his recent attacks on mainstream media, whom he accused of painting a black image of his candidacy.

Les Echos, the financial paper of France, recently called him a "risk".

"Eh oui, I am very dangerous," the left-wing presidential candidate said in English and French, prompting more laughter.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

French campaign ends in uncertainty and fear

Several presidential candidates cancelled their last meetings after a policeman was killed in an attack on Paris’s Champs Elysees. Pollsters say the race will be very tight on Sunday.

Analysis

France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote

Tactical votes could still bring down either of the two favourites in France on Sunday in a nervous election seen as crucial for the future of the EU.

Call for 'neutral' government fails to end Italy's deadlock

The leaders of the two main political parties want elections in July, despite fears of low turnout and prolonging the uncertainty. EU officials are worried that a prolonged political uncertainty would further weaken the Italian economy.

EU: 'Keep Calm', as Italy struggles to form government

Both the leaders of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League party claim the position of Italian prime minister, amid renewed eurosceptics remarks while Europe is waiting for a stable government.

Italy votes to become more eurosceptic

A hung parliament is expected, as preliminary results show a good outcome for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant Northern League.

Opinion

Erdogan and the Queen

Images of Erdogan being greeted by the Queen will be beamed to Turkish households, a sure boost for Erdogan's bid to make his way back to his own presidential palace in Ankara after next month's elections.

Opinion

The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight