Presidential election in France: The countdown is on

In a week, France will have decided who to entrust with the keys of the Élysée for five years. Meanwhile, outgoing President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will throw all their might into the fight, with a long-awaited climax being the debate that faces them on Wednesday.

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Barely a break for Easter Sunday, and the two candidates are back on track Monday but in small steps in preparation for Wednesday’s televised debate, which could mark a turning point in the second round of the campaign.

The pressure on the Rallye National candidate is all the greater that she went down against Emmanuel Macron (La République en Marche, LREM) in 2017. And there’s no doubt that even if his opponent is credited with a slight advantage according to opinion polls, he won’t hold back his punches.

He would win in a range of 53-55.5% versus 44.5-47% for Marine Le Pen on Sunday, with the presidential nominee making slight progress but within margin of error and therefore not safe from a misstep or a strong mobilization the anti-Macron electorate.

This time Marine Le Pen feels better prepared for the debate and says she is “extremely calm”.

For the far-right candidate, who is trying to boost her credibility and flatten her image, “it’s an important moment because a lot of French are watching.”

“For the past few days I’ve been reading so many inconsistencies about my project, so many caricatures, even fake news, that it’s extremely important that I can spend a moment with all the French who are interested (…). able to put everyone at ease,” she said on Saturday.

During the intermediate rounds, she held two major press conferences on sovereign issues, institutions and diplomacy, intervened extensively in the media and held a single rally in Avignon (south) on Thursday evening.

Given the support her opponent has from left and right, or from civil society, she is sticking to the issue of purchasing power rather than her first passion, immigration, and trying to win over the fringe popular with voters.

Her lieutenants worked again on Sunday to demin a sensitive issue, the wearing of the veil, and reiterated that its ban in public spaces, which the candidate wanted, was no longer her priority in the fight against Islamism.

They also came out in the face of new allegations against their nominee, denouncing “a stinky ball”.

According to a new report submitted to French justice in March, Marine Le Pen and her family are accused by the European Anti-Fraud Office of embezzling around €600,000 of European public funds during their mandates as MEPs.

For Emmanuel Macron, the debate on Wednesday will be “a moment of clarification”. “I believe that I have a project that deserves to be known and I have a feeling that there is a project on the extreme right that deserves to be clarified,” he said in an interview , which was broadcast by TV station TF1 on Sunday channel.

On the form, “the challenge is to be persuasive and persuasive without adopting an overly professorial tone,” emphasizes those around him.

Drawing lessons from 2017, when she came to the debate ill-prepared and tired after multiplying trips, Marine Le Pen will confine herself to a Monday morning incursion in Normandy (North West) at the start of the week on “A that Meeting of the French: mission to persuade”. Before agreeing to retire west for a day and a half to study his files.

She must hold her last major rally on Thursday in Arras, a town in the Pas-de-Calais (North), where Emmanuel Macron came first in the first ballot with 29.48% of the vote, followed by her in second place ( 24.03%). ) by Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France insoumise (22.86%).

Emmanuel Macron held a first between-rounds rally in Marseille (south) on Saturday, mostly devoted to ecology and climate change, sending signals to left-wing voters he hopes to win over.

He will be on the France Culture program on Monday mornings and will be a guest on the France 5 television program “C à vous” in the evenings.

He could make a short trip to Ile-de-France on Tuesday and will chair the Council of Ministers on Wednesday morning. He was due to make one final trip to the region for the post-debate, which will conclude with a public rally on Friday.

“Connecting, explaining, sharing, sometimes the joys, the anger, the fears,” he summarized in his interview with TF1.

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