As in 2017, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face each other on April 24 in the second round of the presidential election, with the advantage to the outgoing president, without certainty however on their vote reserves after the collapse of LR and the PS after the first round on Sunday.
While the polls gave Emmanuel Macron followed by Marine Le Pen, the outgoing president would achieve a better score than expected, between 28% and 29% of the votes according to estimates, ahead of the RN candidate, credited with 22 to 24%.
But the second round promises to be tight, according to surveys published on Sunday evening, which all see Mr. Macron renewed but by a short head (51%-49% according to Ifop; 52-48% according to Elabe; 54%- 46% according to Ipsos and Opinionway; 54.5% – 45.5% at Odoxa), far from its 2017 score (66.1% – 33.9%).
After months of an atypical and little mobilizing campaign, abstention was higher than five years ago, between 26 and 28% against 22.23% in 2017, according to polling institutes.
With the third place of the Insoumis Jean-Luc Mélenchon (around 21%), this election confirms the relegation of the two parties that governed France from the Fifth Republic until 2017, which achieve the worst score in their history: Valérie Pécresse (LR) around 5% of the vote, threshold for reimbursement of campaign expenses, and Anne Hidalgo (PS) with less than 2%.
“The traditional parties are pulverized”, summarizes the political scientist Jérôme Jaffré.
“The reflex of the useful vote has played out, it’s a personal and collective disappointment”, commented the right-wing candidate.
If the scenario of a Macron / Le Pen duel was expected, the campaign between two rounds opens a range of questions on the vote transfers from which both will benefit on April 24. The two candidates launched calls for a rally on Sunday evening under their respective banners.
“I want to reach out to all those who want to work for France”, declared Emmanuel Macron, calling for the founding, beyond “differences”, “a great political movement of unity and action”. The Head of State will leave for the field on Monday morning with a trip to the North, then to the Grand Est on Tuesday.
“You will see that I will be morning, noon and evening convincing and in contact,” he insisted.
Marine Le Pen, who wants to be the “president of all French people”, called on “all those who did not vote” for Emmanuel Macron to “join” her for the “great alternation which (la) France needs”.
Mélenchon against Le Pen
The outcome of the second round lies partly in the behavior of the voters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who managed to capitalize on the useful vote on the left to the point of believing that late Sunday evening they could still hold the second round. Will they respect the instruction that the rebellious candidate repeated three times: “We must not give a voice to Madame Le Pen! »? He did not, however, explicitly call for Mr. Macron to be chosen.
And will right-wing sympathizers follow Ms. Pécresse’s decision to vote “in conscience for Emmanuel Macron to prevent the far right from coming to power”?
“Personally, I will not vote Emmanuel Macron in the second round,” warned LR primary finalist Eric Ciotti.
At the same time, will the blunt spring of the Republican front to block the RN work among supporters of the ecologist Yannick Jadot (less than 5%), the communist Fabien Roussel (2/3%) or even d ‘Anne Hidalgo, who quickly called to “beat the far right” by voting Macron?
In such a context, the outgoing president “will have a problem of dynamics”: “He has already taken most of the voters of the moderate right” and “will have to go fishing for those on the left, but they are at Jean -Luc Mélenchon”, which complicates his task, underlines political scientist Pascal Perrineau.
Zemmour behind Le Pen
Ms. Le Pen should count on the votes of far-right polemicist Eric Zemmour who, after obtaining around 7% of the vote, called “to vote Marine Le Pen” despite “disagreements” with her.
Five years ago, a quarter of the electorate did not want to decide between Mr. Macron and Mrs. Le Pen, and four million French people preferred to vote blank or null.
On this sunny Sunday all over the country, some 48.7 million voters were called upon to decide between the 12 candidates for the Elysee Palace after a campaign hit by the Covid-19 crisis and then the war in Ukraine.
For these reasons, the president-candidate entered the campaign late, making few trips, which sowed doubt in his camp.
However, he improved his previous score (24.01% in 2017), a performance that only François Mitterrand had managed to achieve on the way to re-election in 1988.
Spurred on by Ms. Le Pen on the theme of purchasing power, the Head of State has raised his voice significantly in recent days against the RN candidate, claiming that she is “lying to people”, and pinning down her “complacency”. vis-à-vis Russia.
Marine Le Pen is also progressing compared to the first round of 2017 (21.3%), after a campaign without great risk-taking. The candidate, who has smoothed her image a lot without undermining the radicalism of her project on immigration and institutions, was refocused by the outings of Mr. Zemmour, whose competition ultimately served her despite the doubts and defections of Winter.
But the step remains high to reach the Elysée, while her personality still arouses the concern of a majority of French people (51%) and that only 39% of them consider that she has the makings of a President of the Republic, far behind Emmanuel Macron (65%), according to the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.
This new Macron – Le Pen duel installs in the national landscape a cleavage which had been attenuated during the local elections of 2020 and 2021, during which LR and PS had made resistance, and the Greens a breakthrough.
Now reduced to the bare minimum, the right and the left see their future seriously obstructed by this historic debacle. For these formations, survival will now be at stake in the June legislative elections, before any refoundation initiatives.
Fabien Roussel, Jean Lassalle (3%), the sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (1/2%), the anti-capitalist candidate Philippe Poutou (less than 1%) or even the leader of Lutte Ouvrière Nathalie Arthaud (less than 1% ), contained below 5%, will have to make do with modest reimbursements for their campaign.