NewsWorldMacron heads back to campaign trail a day after first-round win

Macron heads back to campaign trail a day after first-round win

French President Emmanuel Macron, fresh off a first-round victory in his quest for re-election, jumped straight back onto the campaign trail on Monday (April 11).

He hunted for more re-election support in France’s former industrial heartland in the north, a blue-collar stronghold of far-right rival Marine Le Pen, who he will face in an April 24 runoff vote.

Macron, 44, is vying to become the first president in two decades to win a second term, but faces a tough challenge from Le Pen, who has tapped into anger over the cost of living and a perception that Macron is disconnected from everyday hardships.

Voters in Denain, who joined a crowd to meet Macron, interrogated some of his policies, expressing their disapproval of pension reforms and vaccines.

Others congratulated him and wished him well for the second round.

The town of Denain once prided itself as the mining and steel capital of France but where in 2019 almost half the population lived in poverty and one in three people of active age were unemployed in 2018.

Le Pen on Sunday won 42% of votes in the town.

“Please think of France’s impoverished…there are people here who die of hunger,” a teacher told Macron.

Left-wing voters will be crucial to determining the outcome of the election. Hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came a close third on Sunday, told supporters not one single vote should go to the far right – but he stopped short of endorsing Macron.

An interior ministry count showed that with 97% of votes counted, Macron had won 27.60% of voters’ support. Le Pen secured 23.41% and Melenchon 21.95%.

Polls predict a close-fought second round with one survey projecting Macron will win with just 51% of the vote and 49% for Le Pen. The gap is so tight that victory either way is within the margin of error.

A Le Pen win would send shockwaves across Europe and beyond, and deliver a similar jolt to the establishment as Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union (EU) or Donald Trump’s 2017 entry into the White House.


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